If Your Not First Then You Are Last
In the infamous words spoken by Ricky Bobby’s father, “If you ain’t first, then you are last”, website design and SEO have live by it. Google rewards responsive sites, with quick loading times and relevant content. As much as we would want all of your business we also don’t mind sharing a few tips for success. In this guide, we will explore the basics of speed optimization inside of WordPress.
Step 1: Choosing a High-Quality Hosting Provider
A good hosting provider is the foundation of a fast website. Before choosing a provider and plan be sure to estimate your traffic and have a general idea of the purpose of your future website. This is a very competitive industry and each hosting provider has a list of freebies they offer. Who hates free stuff? Here’s a list of some of the top hosting services known for their speed and reliability:
- SiteGround: Known for its excellent customer service and great uptime. SiteGround offers built-in WP caching, CDN services, and much more for WordPress users. (LUD Marketing Top Choice)
- Bluehost: It is officially recommended by WordPress and offers a lot of beneficial WordPress-specific features.
- WP Engine: Offers managed WordPress hosting, which means they take care of the technical side of things for you and offer excellent customer support.
- A2 Hosting: Known for its speed and reliability, A2 Hosting also offers managed WordPress hosting.
- DreamHost: Provides numerous tools and services to help WordPress websites load quickly.
Step 2: Use a Lightweight WordPress Theme
There are some impressive themes out there. Some of them have more options than a Swiss army knife. We all like a little flash and pizzazz with our website, after all, it’s a competition of who is the coolest brand on the block. However, those heavy themes that are overly prebuilt are also a lot for a server to handle. The code the browser has to process, then the slower your site will run. This is one of the most compelling cases for using a Website Designer.
A Website Designer can take a lightweight theme and develop the essential tools your business requires. That being said there is a lot of amateurs out there that don’t have knowledge of basic languages such as HTML, CSS, and JS. Without the knowledge of the basics, they have no idea how your website should perform or how to optimize it. Steer clear of these guys, they will cost you a hell of lot more than getting a professional to start with. Google estimates that every 400ms you lose .6% of search traffic. If your site is delayed by a few seconds over the course of a month, think of the number of potential clients, leads, and sales that you have donated to your competitors!
Some might say that Website Design and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) go together like peanut butter and jelly. They are right, a well-designed website will have the technical SEO fine-tuned.
Step 3: Reduce Image Size
Images are the main reason website experience speed issues. We once worked on a global news site that used .jpg images instead of webp. The server was so bogged down that it took hours just to install updates. Then it took our SEO professional two full days to complete the technical optimization. Use modern web-friendly formats and basic compression to avoid serious speed issues. Your SEO professional will appreciate you for it.
Step 4: Minification of CSS and JS Files
Remember what we mentioned about amateurs before? If they don’t know CSS and JS work, then how do you expect them to know the steps for minification? Much like we said before, the larger the code base, the longer the site takes to load. The longer your site takes to load, the more clients you’ll send over to your competitors. There are plenty of plugins that handle this plus much more. For the sake of all things fast, don’t skip this critical step.
Step 5: Use Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)
A CDN delivers your content, like images and JS files, from servers that are close to the geographical location of your users, which makes your site faster. Cloudflare and MaxCDN are good CDN services but there are many more to choose from. Most WordPress hostings companies offer some sort of CDN add-on. A CDN is critical to improving the speed of your WordPress website.
Step 6: Use Caching Mechanisms with a Caching Plugin
I almost cringe when telling someone to use another plugin on their site. However, an advanced caching plugin is a good thing for the speed and performance of your website. There are numerous options out there and the selection and utilization of a plugin could be its own subject. Use one that you understand, but be careful. Make a wrong choice or enable something that you don’t understand and you’ll crash the website. Back up everything prior to starting. Again, this task is better suited for a professional website designer, SEO Expert, or Digital Marketing Company.
Step 7: Optimize the WordPress Database
Your website database stores a lot of data, including stale data. Cleaning the database, deleting unneeded revisions, pages, and plugins will go a long way toward making your site perform better.
Step 8: Keep Your Site Up-to-Date
Due to the extensive echo system of plugins and the tenancy of black hatters, you’d be a fool not to do daily updates on your website. Not only does it speed things up, but it also keeps your website safe and functioning well.
Remember, that speed isn’t just about website design and user experience. Google includes speed into its ranking algorithm, so a faster site will rank higher and equate to more traffic and conversions.