Having a blazing fast website provides a great experience for site visitors. This speed is also rewarded by Google – your search engine rankings improve as your website speed increases. There are a few quick wins that you can take advantage of to improve the performance of your website.
Optimize Your Images
Did you know the performance of your website could be negatively impacted by the size of the photos across the site? The worst part is, Google will punish you for having a slow website by sending you further down the search results page. The images on any given web page can make up to 50% of the page size, so you can get some pretty big improvements just by adjusting your image sizes before you upload.
There are two ways to accomplish this (and you should do both). The first way is changing the actual dimensions of the image.
Open your photo in a photo editor (Lightroom, Photoshop, or even Preview on a Mac) and resize the image to 1200-1400 pixels on the longest edge. This will keep the file size around that 200-300 KB mark. Keep in mind that the average screen size that websites are viewed on is about 800 pixels wide. If you size an image way above that, many devices won’t even be able to display that full resolution.
For large, full-screen hero images or other displays, we’ve seen images up to 1,900 pixels wide used for those areas. While the extra resolution is great, the increased file size is not. For existing WordPress websites, we’ve used the Smush plugin to resize and compress the photos.
The next piece of the puzzle is compression. When you export/save the image, the program will take the properly sized images and make them even smaller from a file size point of view. Smush is a freemium plugin in WordPress that will take care of these steps for you with a bit of patience.
Use a Good Website Host
Choose a good website hosting provider. Your website will only be as fast as the server that powers it. A good host will provide fast loading speeds for users around the world while minimizing downtime.
Your website’s loading speeds and overall performance also have a direct correlation to your search engine rankings. If your site is super slow and doesn’t load quick enough for users, the bounce rate will be high and your search rankings will hurt.
Good hosting providers spend an enormous amount of time and money on the security and performance of their servers. We’ve seen websites get hacked from being hosted on platforms that are not so reputable or stable. Those sites were often slow to begin with.
We always use a dedicated WordPress host that provides super fast speeds and great reliability.
Find and Remove Slow Plugins
If you’ve had your site for several years, there may be unnecessary plugins that are slowing the site down. Some developers rely on many different plugins to accomplish different things on a website. We’ve seen sites with 30+ plugins and most of them don’t need to be there. Aside from being outdated and potentially posing a security risk, these unnecessary plugins are running in the background while the page loads which prevents a quick page load.
If all of your plugins are necessary for the website to work properly, make sure they are being updated regularly. Updated plugins often come with new features, better code quality, and/or better security performance.