WordPress is the CMS of choice for most site owners – almost 76 million of them to be exact. Users with little knowledge about development and design can easily get into the platform’s intuitive dashboard and interface. More importantly, WordPress users will benefit from its customization options and thousands of useful plugins to choose from, among many other features.
The last sentence is crucial due to the ever-changing nature of Google algorithm. The search engine giant is focused on providing users will the best possible search results for every keyword query.
One of the more critical updates that Google has made recently is the increasingly big focus they put on mobile friendliness, which puts sites with non-responsive design lower in search results.
Aside from accommodating users with a more accessible site design when viewed on mobile devices, the so-called “Mobilegeddon” update was also putting an onus on fast-loading sites. With site speed now an on-page SEO factor, site owners need to take the necessary steps to make their pages load faster to not only get into the good graces of Google but also keep visitors from leaving their sites.
Thankfully, making a faster site is not difficult using WordPress. There are lots of tweaks and customizations that you can do, but I will only mention the most important ones in this post below.
Choose a premium theme like Genesis
WordPress themes are a dime a dozen. You can easily search for free themes from your dashboard that you can download and install out of the box. However, despite the themes passing the WordPress review process, not all of them load as fast as you want them to be. Some of the themes have extraneous code for features that you won’t use, which only eats up your site’s loading speed.
Therefore, you want a lightweight theme that has a clean code. Among the many WordPress themes in the market, you can’t go wrong with the Genesis Framework by StudioPress. If you can get past its deceptively simple theme, Genesis is powerful enough to not only load your sites faster but also enjoy additional customizations to make your sites more useful to your audience. Also, there are available child themes to choose on top of your Genesis Framework, so you enjoy a beautiful design for your site with little tweaks.
If your site relies on images, then you should be aware that these elements eat up the most time from your loading speed. You need to make it easier for your server to load the images from all your pages by optimizing them before uploading them. Using a web-based tool like Optimizilla or Compressor.io should make the file size of your images lower without compromising on quality.
However, the problem occurs when you already have hundreds and thousands of images in your WordPress. Downloading all of them to optimize each and uploading them one by one sounds like a painstaking process. Thankfully, you don’t have to do that because there are plugins that will get the job done for you.
By installing any one of the following listed in this post, you can set the plugin to compress and reduce the file size of your images automatically. Doing this allows your site pages to load faster due to your images’ lighter file sizes.
Another issue with having lots of images on your site pages is that the pages normally loads all of the elements in the page from top to become before showing them on browsers. Even if you have optimized your images, it would still take a while before the page loads completely, which might be long enough for some to cause them to leave the page.
To counter this, you can download a lazy loading plugin for images on your site. What the plugin does is load the images visible on the browser first. Only when the user scrolls down the page will the other images loads.
Use a caching plugin
With using an online tool like Google PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom to analyze your site speed, you will see areas of improvements to make your site load faster. However, unless you have coding experience, you won’t be able to apply the necessary changes on your WordPress site.
However, by downloading and installing any of the freemium caching plugins, you can resolve most of the site speed issues that pop up from online tools.
In a nutshell, a caching plugin saves files and elements from your site into the browser’s memory. Whenever a user returns to the page, instead of fetching data from the server, it will simply load the files in the cache memory, resulting in a faster loading site.
Aside from this feature, some caching plugins offers CSS and JS minification and concatenation, which means that the files from both formats are combined into the fewest files possible so that the site will be fewer HTTP requests to the server. Also, additional features of caching plugins include CDN integration, font optimization, and lazy loading, to name a few.
Go with dedicated WordPress hosting
As mentioned, most of the exchange of data that takes place between your WordPress site and visitors will be done by the web hosting server. When a user visits your site, its browser will make the necessary HTTP requests to the server to load the site on their end. Imagine the strain put on your server when hundreds and thousands of visitors come in and out to view your site.
If you chose a substandard web hosting, not only will your site load slower than usual, but there’s an excellent chance that it will experience lots of downtimes because it cannot manage the HTTP requests from visitors.
This is the reason why, as early as now, you need to invest on a premium hosting provider. Thankfully, there are lots of WordPress hosting services to choose from with servers that can withdraw thousands of site traffic without relenting on performance. Also, you will receive premium WordPress support and security to ensure that your site is always in tip-top shape.
Making a site optimized for search engines is not only possible on WordPress, but also easy. By installing a couple of plugins and paying for premium services for your site as mentioned in this post, you can be sure that your site will load faster than ever!