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The average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 7 seconds. This is based on studies from 2000 to 2016. You may be wondering how this will affect your website. It would only mean that you have a little time to show users your content and convince them to stay on your WordPress website. Users may leave your site before it even loads. Site speed optimization is necessary to prevent that.

Read on to learn how you can speed up your WordPress sites to get a higher conversion.

The Importance of Fast Loading for SEO

SEO, or search engine optimization, is essential for anyone who wants brand recognition and increased consumer traffic. The purpose of SEO is to increase your ranking on search engines, which makes your website visible to as many people as possible. Considering that over 90% of site traffic comes from Google searches, it’s essential that your site ranks well.

There are several digital marketing tactics to increase your WordPress site performance, such as incorporating keywords, producing high-quality content (or stylesheets) and creating an engaging website layout. However, no matter how beautiful or compelling your website is, no page will survive technical bugs.

Over 50% of mobile users will exit a web page that has a loading speed of over three seconds. While that may seem like a short timeframe, the advancement of technology has gotten people used to speed and convenience. Ultimately, slow websites negatively impact user experience, which translates to a higher bounce rate and a lower search engine ranking across the entire site. It also negatively impacts your reputation; if you can’t offer quality website functionality, how can people trust the quality of your products or services?

A slow website also impacts your SEO. The longer the site loading speed of your website, the lower your ranking factor. WordPress page speed optimization has become more important than ever. A faster site can directly increase both organic traffic and conversion rates.

Working the Algorithm

Google graphic logo

Currently, Google’s algorithm is mobile-based, meaning Google relies on mobile statistics for indexing and ranking. Thus, your website speed across smartphones and mobile devices impact your ranking. Page load time has been a factor in SEO since 2010, and it became an even bigger one in 2018 when the algorithm underwent a “speed update” that increased the importance of loading time.

As of August 2021, page speed will become an even more important part of Google’s algorithm via the Core Web Vitals update. This new update will be based on three main factors:

  • The loading time of the hosting provider
  • The amount of time spent on the webserver
  • The visual stability of the website (such as the quality of pixels and image files)

As the new update takes place, any website that hopes to succeed needs to adapt. Most web owners should be asking themselves, “How do I increase my site speed?”

screenshot of PageSpeed Insights with a score of 18

screenshot of PageSpeed Insights with a score of 38

screenshot of GTmetrix performance report

What Causes your WordPress Website to Slow Down?

The primary key to improving the speed of a WordPress website is to learn what slows it down. By gaining this important knowledge, you will be able to improve your performance and will be able to make smarter long-term choices.

The main causes for a slow WordPress website are:

  • Web Hosting – If your web hosting server configuration isn’t properly set up, it can greatly affect your website speed.
  • External scripts – External scripts can also have a huge impact on your website performance since it adds a great amount of data to your loading time.
  • WordPress Configuration – If your WordPress site is not configured to serving cached pages, it will overload your server which will cause your website to be slow or even crash.
  • Page Size – Images on your web page that aren’t optimized for web.
  • Bad Plugins –Using a poorly coded plugin can significantly slow down your website.

WordPress Hosting

A good WordPress hosting service is important for your website performance. It is best to choose the one that will best work for you. Shared hosting service providers takes the extra step to optimize your website. However, it may tend to provide a poorer performance because you share the server resources with many other customers or websites. You won’t be able to tell how much resources other customers are using.

Managed WordPress Hosting service provides you with the most optimized server configurations to run WordPress.

Make Your WordPress Website Load Lightning Fast

No website owner wants a low conversion rate that doesn’t offer a return. Some case study that every second delay can cause a loss in conversion, fewer page views, and a decrease in customer satisfaction.

Fortunately, there are methods to help increase your site speed. Below are some of the options you can check that can help your website.

Optimize Your Images

A great way to reduce your page load time is to optimize your images and image size. Large images and files will take longer to load, which negatively affects the experience of the user. Optimization involves compressing, or minimizing, the size of your HTML, CSS and JavaScript files. When doing this, it’s important not to compromise the image quality; some programs like gzip let you decrease your file size but don’t consider the way the final product will look.

How to Speed Up Your Website graphic

Clean Up the Clutter

You can also clean up your WordPress database. Your database will start to accumulate unnecessary data over time. This clutter can affect your WordPress site speed. Deleting unwanted data will help your database keep its size to a minimum.

WordPress Plugin

Remove unused plugins and themes. Since the plugins and themes need to be up to date, unused ones can pose a security vulnerability and they can also affect a WordPress site’s performance. Deleting unused ones is the correct step to speed up your website.

Lazy Load

Another option is lazy load images. Lazy loading is an earlier technique to speed up WordPress, where the images are loaded as the user scrolls down the web page. This is to avoid putting stress to the web server which will prevent slower load times. Since you are not loading all the elements of the web page all at once, this will help reduce the burden on your server resources.

Reduce External Scripts

It is also best to keep external scripts on your website to a minimum. External script usage on your web pages adds a big amount of data to your total loading time. Hence, it would be best to keep it at a low number and include only the essentials like Google Analytics.

Minify Your Files

Another way to decrease load time is to minify your CSS, HTML and JS files. In other words, you should remove unnecessary characters such as commas and spaces from your code. Getting rid of characters that don’t contribute to your code will allow your website to operate faster.

screenshot of PageSpeed Insights with a score of 99

Content Delivery Network

Many sites also rely on content delivery networks, or CDNs, to handle their load page needs. In essence, these networks share the task of delivering content by storing copies of your site at different data centers. These servers, which are scattered on a geographic basis, work together to increase website speed and reliability.

Leverage Browser Caching

This is a tactic in which you temporarily store website information, including JavaScript files, images and web page information, to prevent website lag. By storing this information, your website doesn’t need to waste time loading unnecessary files. Many sites set expiration headers that will cache the information for a specific amount of time (such as a year).

Monitor Bandwidth Usage

Bandwidth is the rate at which your website transfers data, which can be either outbound or inbound. Outbound bandwidth refers to the server sending something to a user, such as responding to a request. Inbound bandwidth, on the other hand, refers to data that’s coming into the server, such as uploading a file. Using more data than your website can handle is a quick way to decrease quality and speed.

screenshot of PageSpeed Insights with a score of 100

Fewer Redirects

Many websites feature links that redirect users to another page, such as an internal page of your site or an external website altogether. Every time a user is redirected, they must wait for the HTTP request-response cycle to complete, which makes your page response time slower and frustrates the user.

Optimizing Your Site

Now that you know the different methods available to optimize web speed, how do you go about implementing them? While there are some methods you can employ on your own, such as installing Google Chrome plug-ins (like PageSpeed Insights) or conducting a speed test, it’s difficult to reach your necessary speed without professional assistance. Moreover, attempting to take on the task on your own can be time-consuming and distract from your day-to-day e-commerce and business tasks. Fortunately, there are WordPress speed optimization services available.

screenshot of GTmetrix performance report

Core Web Vitals Optimization

WP SitePlan is a U.S.-based WordPress website maintenance and support service that offers a team of experts who will manage, protect and enhance the quality of your site. In addition to optimizing your page speed through proven methods such as image compression, minification and browser caching, our team will also provide:

  • Daily data backups
  • Real-time uptime monitoring
  • Daily security scans
  • Database optimization
  • Core, plug-in and theme updates
  • Monthly reporting

For websites that want a higher level of personalized service, we offer a Support plan (which includes desk and WooCommerce support) and a Support Pro plan (which comes with unlimited desk help, complete malware removal and daily performance and speed checks).

Once you’ve signed up for an account, our team will conduct a backup, analyze your metrics and update your site as needed. By applying our knowledge of SEO and website optimization, we can ensure your site aligns with any forthcoming updates to the Google algorithm — and if it doesn’t, we’ll execute the necessary changes.

silhouette of a man working at his desk with the sun setting in the background

Running a business is practically a full-time job, and so is managing a website. If you’re not sorting out technical bugs and ensuring your website loads properly, you risk losing out on valuable business. However, nobody should have to take on two full-time jobs; instead of burdening yourself with website optimization, let a professional page speed optimization service like WordPress SitePlan take care of it. Contact us now to learn more about how we can help.