Upon visiting a website, the last thing anyone wants to do is wait for a page to load. In an Akamai study done in 2009, 47% of visitors anticipated that a webpage should load in fewer than 2 seconds, and 57% of visitors stated that they will leave a website that takes more than 3-4 seconds to load.

Example: Amazon stated in 2006 that they experienced a 1% increase in revenue when they decreased their website load time by 100-milliseconds. A couple of years later, Google announced in a blog post that its new algorithm update would take page speed into account when ranking websites.

HOW TO SPEED UP YOUR WEBSITE’S LOAD TIME

Usually, a website can run slow due to several on-site issues which we walk you through below. The best way to speed up your WordPress site loading time is to review the following points we’ve shared with you, and to make sure any issues you may find are addressed.

Once you’ve gone through and checked off all of the topics mentioned below that can be causing your website to load slowly, you can then take appropriate measures to resolve each issue. While some things may need to be removed entirely from your site, we will also offer you better alternatives to replace them with.

speed-up-website-loading-time

11 QUICK FIXES TO SPEED UP YOUR SITE

1. IDENTIFY BAD PLUGINS
A good diagnostic plugin is P3. It helps detect the plugins that are slowing down your website by showing the impact each plugin has on the page-load time of your site. This will essentially help you identify which plugins will need to be removed.

The most common culprit to an increase in page-load time is adding a social-sharing plugin. Most of these plugins will bloat your page-load time. Instead, the best way to add social sharing buttons to your website is by embedding social buttons into the source code of your theme.

2. COMPRESS YOUR WEBSITE
Just like compressing files on your PC to reduce a file’s size, Gzip does the same thing but with the files on your website.

Once you’ve installed Gzip, it can automatically start compressing all of the files into ZIP files. This will save on bandwidth, and ultimately speed up your page-loading times. Consequently, whenever anyone visits your website, their browser unzips the files to show the contents of your site. Using this technique is the most efficient for transmitting content.

Installing Gzip has no disadvantages, and alone can dramatically decrease your sites page-loading time.
Some plugins allow you to add Gzip to your site, but most would agree that installing it manually works best in all cases. Follow the instructions below to add Gzip to your website.

Add the following code to the .htaccess file:

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript

After adding that snippet of code to the .htaccess file, you can test whether Gzip is working correctly by checking the compression here: http://checkgzipcompression.com.

3. COMPRESSING IMAGES
On most websites, images are usually what take up most of the bandwidth. Plugins that instantly compress images uploaded to the media library take up less space, and help your page load faster. Doing this should not affect the quality of your images, and plugins like WP Smush.it allow you to upload as many images as you want at a time.

4. BROWSER CACHING
Expiry headers speed up a website by allowing returning visitors to save a copy of your site’s files in their browser, and this will also reduce the number of HTTP requests made. This method will only work for visitors who have already visited your website.

You can add the Expiry Header to your website by adding this code to the .htaccess file:

#
# associate .js with “text/javascript” type (if not present in mime.conf)
#
AddType text/javascript .js
#
# configure mod_expires
#
# URL: http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.2/mod/mod_expires.html
#
ExpiresActive On
ExpiresDefault “access plus 1 seconds”
ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType image/png “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType text/css “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType text/javascript “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType application/x-javascript “access plus 2692000 seconds”
ExpiresByType text/html “access plus 600 seconds”
ExpiresByType application/xhtml+xml “access plus 600 seconds”
#
# configure mod_headers
#
# URL: http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.2/mod/mod_headers.html
#
Header set Cache-Control “max-age=2692000, public”
Header set Cache-Control “max-age=600, private, must-revalidate”
Header unset ETag
Header unset Last-Modified

5. CLEANING UP YOUR DATABASE
WordPress’s auto save feature is great, and also not so great. While automatically saving trackbacks, pingbacks, post revisions, trashed items and unapproved comments can be a neat feature for many reasons, it can also fill up your database rather quickly.

WP-Optimize is the solution in a plugin for this. It helps by routinely clearing out the trash in your database that you don’t need to hold on to, and that stacks up overtime. It’s always best to back up your site before making any changes to the database.

6. MINIFY JS AND CSS FILES
When installing plugins, your website links to many individual style sheets and JS files on every page. Putting all JS into one JavaScript file and all CSS into one CSS file works effectively with your page speed. Doing this is actually vital when you’ve added over a handful of plugins to your website.

The plugin Better WordPress Minify combines your JS files and style sheets into one, and thus reduces the number of requests a browser has to make.

7. CHARACTER SETS AND IMAGE DIMENSIONS
Browsers have to figure out how the content around the images on your site should fit before displaying a website. If the image sizes are not specified, then the browser has to work harder, causing your site to take longer to load.

It’s also important to specify a character set in your HTTP response headers. This is another useful trick to speeding up your page-loading time, and can be applied by adding the character set to the head section of your website.

8. CSS THEN JAVASCRIPT
Since browsers don’t render pages only until after they’ve rendered the CSS files of a website, it is recommended to link to your style sheets in the top section of the page (above the fold).

JavaScript should be inserted below the footer of a page since JS must fully finish loading before allowing browsers to analyze the remaining parts of a website. This method is not for websites that require JavaScript to load prior to allowing the rest of the site to load.

Setting your site up in this fashion enables browsers to download your site’s content easily, and supports faster page-loading times.

9. USING CSS SPRITES FOR IMAGES
Sprites are large image files comprising of all of the collective images on your site, side by side. By specifying a set of coordinates using CSS, you are able to set rules for what you would like to have remain visible to users, and what you want hidden.

CSS sprites can have a positive impact on your website’s performance. It takes much less time to load one big image than it does to load several small ones. Although, for the not so tech savvy, using sprites can have a few downsides when it comes to maintainability or if your website is not setup responsive. Learn more about Responsive Web Design.

SpriteMe is an easy to use tool that mechanically fits all of your images into a CSS Sprite. Since some browsers don’t support large sprite files, you can check to see if your sprite will meet a browsers size requirements by using William Malone’s calculator, which you can access at this URL: http://bit.ly/1JzDnuc.

10. ENABLING “KEEP ALIVE”
When viewing websites, you device sends a message to the Web server requesting permission to download a file. This message is referred to as HTTP Keep Alive. When you enable Keep Alive on your website, you save on bandwidth by allowing viewers to download multiple files without having to constantly request permission.

You can enable Keep Alive by pasting this code into the .htaccess file:

Header set Connection keep-alive

11. REPLACING PHP WITH STATIC HTML
Although PHP lowers the amount of times you’ll have to input the same data into a website, calling information via PHP utilizes a lot of your server’s resources and should only be swapped out with static HTML in the areas that won’t save any time.

FINALLY…

Most of us use our smart devices to search online, and the numbers only continues to rise. This means having a fast page-load time should be important for every website owner. Users won’t surf through pages that take forever to load, and websites that can’t meet the online expectations of users won’t last next to those providing the ultimate online experience.

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