Working to improve WordPress website performance is more important than ever these days. Google recently confirmed what many website owners long suspected; the search engine giant takes page loading speeds into account before determining search result positioning.
WordPress users have long relied on the platform’s ability to help them create great websites. However, WordPress enthusiasts also tend to go overboard with plugins such that they hamper overall performance. You can design the prettiest website ever, filled with the best content, but if users can’t access that content quickly…your efforts are of little use.
Listed below are six tried-and-true techniques you can leverage to improve WordPress website performance.
1. Opt for selective asset loading.
Digital assets such as images, videos, and infographics add tremendous value to the user experience. By conveying information in different forms, website owners can connect with their audience across multiple mediums. The problem is that many of these assets take a while to load and this creates performance issues.
According to WordPress website designing platform Elementor, selective asset loading is a great way to boost performance. Instead of loading everything on the page when the user first arrives, pages prioritize loading elements that carry the lowest HTML demands.
Videos and high-resolution images load as static images. The asset itself loads only if the user clicks on it and wishes to engage with that content. Not only does this reduce the number of HTML calls the page makes, it also gives the user full control over the content they download.
Many WordPress site managers use image-compression plugins, but these solutions don’t normally solve the primary issue. Additionally, these plugins have to be loaded along with the content. This nearly always creates a daunting headwind for page speed. It’s far better to opt for selective asset loading via backend solutions and eliminate the need for a plugin.
Constantly check your code for opportunities to optimize it for performance. Eliminate any empty spaces, irrelevant lines, and unnecessary characters. Remove references to outdated libraries to reduce the number of HTML calls. Relying on native browser support is probably the most effective way of boosting performance.
For example, some websites use infinite scrolling but pages that make use of this feature tend to load slowly as intersection-detection routines engage. Elementor replaces the Waypoints library with the native Intersection Observer API. This is a great way of boosting performance as it enables the underlying page code to execute a callback function any time one element interferes with the operation of another. Following this protocol results in pages that load faster and more smoothly.
3. Improve caching.
Images, custom fields, and colors tend to have separate CSS which also creates performance issues. These issues occur since each element’s dynamic value has to be retrieved and the relevant CSS would be written into a <style> tag before being injected into the document object model (DOM).
4. Use custom breakpoints.
Responsive design elements improve user experience considerably. Users access websites from as many as seven different platforms nowadays. Accounting for all of them and ensuring that a website performs well under all conditions is critical.
Breakpoints transform a website across platforms but they can be a drag on performance. Incorporating them — without impacting page loading speeds — is difficult, but Elementor 3.4 allows the use of customized breakpoints without any impact on speed.
By making sure breakpoints for laptops, mobile, desktop, and tablets are correctly inserted, designers can boost user experience and lower page bounce rates. While not directly related to page loading speeds, responsive design impacts a website’s ranking nonetheless.
5. Reduce redirects.
Redirects help divert web traffic when content changes take place. While pages need to be migrated and deleted over time, minimizing such activity reduces the number of HTTP requests a website makes and preserves page loading speeds.
Mobile users, in particular, suffer diminished performance as a result of additional HTTP requests. Given that the majority of web traffic is now on mobile, this can result in swift demotion in search engine results page (SERP) rankings if website owners aren’t careful.
Google uses mobile-first indexing to rank websites. If a large number of redirects are detected on a website, a tumble in search rankings is inevitable.
6. Use reliable host servers.
Your choice of a web hosting provider has a huge impact on page loading speeds. There are many choices available, but it’s best to choose one with a large number of servers in your target audience’s region. For instance, choosing a host with a negligible presence in Japan is useless if you’re trying to appeal to a Japanese audience.
The technology a hosting service uses is also important. Reliable web hosts now use HTTP 2.0 technology and offer 24/7 customer support as standard. When making your choice, evaluate how easy their onboarding process is and how efficiently they handle your support requests.
At the very least, your host should provide daily backups, server-side caching, regular updates to software and plugins, and advanced security features. Take memory and usage limits into consideration when choosing a host and whether they host email addresses as well. Most managed WordPress hosts don’t offer this service but you can use G Suite’s service for as little as $5 per month.
When making WordPress tweaks, always prioritize speed.
Fast loading speeds are achieved through constant work, optimizing every aspect of your website.
Many website owners compress images and leave it at that, expecting their websites to be blazing fast. However, you need to “dive under the hood” to make sure your code backs up your performance-related aims. Follow the tips listed above to improve WordPress website performance. You’ll want to make sure your website performs well and rises in search rankings.