How To Reduce Website Load Time And Speed Up WordPress Blog
Website Load Time is one of the most critical factors which is often ignored by bloggers and webmasters. Slow loading times will not only make your visitors shun your website and visit your competitor’s website, it will also affect your search engine rankings.
I have already covered how important it is for a blogger as well as webmaster to reduce website load time in my article on Tools To Test Page Load Time . So I am not going to discuss that in detail.
However, to understand how to reduce Website Load Time, you must understand the various factors affecting the same. So we will discuss the same in brief.
Factors Affecting Website Load Time
Below are the main factors that you need to address to reduce website load time. It may sound a bit too technical, but you just need the basic idea about it so that you understand things properly.
1. Reduce Server Response Time
Server Response Time is nothing but the time taken by your host server to begin loading the necessary HTML. Google recommends having your server response time under 200ms.
To make sure your server response time is less, you must use a good quality host.
2. Reduce HTTP Requests
The number of HTTP requests generated depends largely on your theme and the plugins you use with your WordPress blog. Poorly coded themes and plugins will increase the number of HTTP requests and hence slow down your website.
3. Enable Compression
If your website is Image and Graphics rich, your total page size would be very high which may take a lot of time to load at the user end depending upon his connection speed.
To avoid this you can compress your web page using Gzip. Almost all the modern-day web browsers support and negotiate Gzip and hence users can quickly download and view the web page compressed to GZIP format.
Most hosts provide you an option for GZIP compression. You can also use WordPress plugins to achieve the same.
4. Enable Browser Caching
When you enable browser caching, a cache of your web page would be created on the user’s device. Now, whenever the user visits the web page from the same device, instead of downloading all the elements from your server, most of them would be served from the Browser cache thus reducing the number of HTTP requests to your server and improving page load time.
6. Reduce The Size of “Above The Fold” Content
Google encourages you to prioritize loading of “Above The Fold” content and also to keep it size lower, typically under 14.6Kb compressed. This makes sure your main content is visible to your readers while your widgets and other scripts are executed.
7. Optimize CSS Delivery
As you know, CSS is used for styling of your web page. You can either use this CSS as inline by including it along with HTML or you can use the same as an external code.
Using your CSS Inline can make your page load faster. However, you must make sure to include only a small piece of codes as inline. Complex codes should be used as an external sheet as it may affect the rendering of “Above The Fold” content.
8. Use Asynchronous Scripts
Scripts tagged as Asynchronous are downloaded in the background while other scripts are being executed. This makes sure that the browser has to wait for only execution of script which considerably reduces the website load time.
9. Optimize Images
Images can considerably increase your website load time. Unless you have a photography blog where you may need high quality images, you must use images with lower resolution. You can also use plugins and external tools which help in lossless compression of the image.
10. Avoid Landing Page Redirects
Each redirection of page triggers an HTTP request increasing your website load time. Therefore you must minimize redirection to the landing page and as far as possible, avoid it.
How To Reduce Page Load Time For WordPress
It may be difficult understanding above mentioned factors, but luckily, it is not as difficult to reduce page load time for a WordPress Website. Even people with basic knowledge of WordPress can easily reduce their website load time to acceptable levels.
Below are the factors that you need to consider for reducing your Page Load Time.
1. Selecting Quality Hosting Server
It is imperative for you to select a quality host that suits your requirements. Following are the main points you should keep in mind while selecting your hosting company.
1. Type Of Hosting Server
Depending upon the traffic your website is getting, you could either go for shared servers, VPS, Dedicated Server or cloud servers.
Shared hosting is generally suitable for basic websites getting less than 30k monthly visitors. Some shared hosting can handle up to 100k visitors per month on shared hosting.
However, a shared hosting can considerably slow down your website if other websites hosted on the server too are getting lots of traffic. So for Ecommerce websites and other time critical websites, you must either go with a VPS or a Cloud Server.
Dedicated servers are recommended in case of very heavy traffic websites. Though, I would still prefer cloud servers over dedicated servers as they provide better uptime than dedicated servers. Also, cloud servers are scalable, which means you can quickly upgrade and downgrade your server resources without any downtime.
2. Location Of Hosting
It is generally recommended that your hosting servers are based at locations from where you are expecting maximum traffic. Doing so, will reduce the latency and hence speed up your website.
If no quality servers are available in your region or if you are targeting global traffic, you can use free or paid CDN to speed up your website. Most hosting companies allow you to enable CDN from your CPanel.
3. Features Provided By Hosting Company
SSD servers are much faster than servers which serve files through normal HDD. So it is always better to go with hosting companies providing SSD based servers.
You can also check if your hosting provides GZIP compression and CDN configurations in the Hosting Panel. Though, this is not very critical as you can always deploy both externally.
4. Overall Reputation Of The Hosting Company
There are many hosts who claim to provide good infrastructure at very affordable rates. However, few live up to their promise. Also, many cheap hosting companies will overload their servers on shared hosting thus slowing down your website considerably.
It is, therefore, necessary that you must select a hosting company which has been tried and tested before and has a decent overall reputation.
Based upon above parameters, for shared hosting, I always recommend my readers to buy servers from any of the below hosting companies
Dreamhost is one of the best and fastest hosts with great uptime and awesome customer support. They provide 100% Uptime guarantee with SLA. So you can claim compensation for any downtime. It also provides industry best 97-day money back guarantee with their annual hosting plan.
They just have one plan that will cost you $9.95 per month. However, you can get a special discount of $50 with its annual hosting plan which brings down the monthly hosting charges to $5.78 per month through the link below.
Dreamhost also offers unmanaged Cloud VPS servers starting just $4.5 per month. So if you are familiar with Linux commands and can set up and manage your own servers, this is the cheapest and the best option.
If you are low on budget, Namecheap turns out to be the best hosting option. They are extremely cheap at just $0.82 per month for their value plan. This is extremely cheap considering the fact that you get to 3 websites with the said plan along with up to 1GB of RAM. They provide 99.9% uptime guarantee and 14 days money back guarantee.
The best thing about Interserver is that they claim to load their server at just 50% of the total capacity. This makes sure our website runs smoothly. With Interserver you get to host unlimited websites with unlimited storage and unmetered bandwidth. You get 99.9% Uptime guarantee with SLA along with 30 days money back guarantee
2. Using Well Coded Themes And Plugins
Often times bloggers choose free or cheap themes and plugins that are rich in features. However, they fail to check if the themes and plugins they are using are well coded and fast to load.
Most free themes coded by new developers use redundant scripts that generate unnecessary requests which increase your website load time. Same applies to plugins. So you must make sure to get the right theme and plugin
Below are the top sources for free and paid themes and plugins
1. WordPress Repository
WordPress has certain guidelines that a theme or plugin author has to follow before his theme or plugin is approved to be listed in the WordPress Repository. Though the themes at WordPress Repository are usually well-coded, you must check the user ratings and comments before using a theme.
After installing and activating the free theme, you should also check if it causes your blog to slow down or if it interferes with any plugins on your blog.
2. Genesis Themes By StudiPress
Themes based on Genesis Framework are often considered to be the best as the developers behind them have years of experience with WordPress Themes. Hence, all the themes by them are well coded and SEO friendly.
You can either buy the basic Genesis framework for $59.95 and build your own child theme or you can buy a child theme of your choice for $99.95.
Each theme comes with a lifetime support for unlimited websites. Since there is no developer license, you can use the theme on your client’s website too.
MyThemeShop provides over 100 free and paid WordPress themes. You can buy any paid theme for $59. However, if you need to get access to all the themes and plugins by MyThemeShop, you can get MyThemeShop membership by paying a one-time signup fee of $87 and $9 per month recurring charges.
The single theme comes with lifetime updates and supports. However, in the case of MyThemeShop membership, if you cancel your membership, you can use any theme and plugin you downloaded but you will not receive any updates or support for the same after canceling the membership.
For free Plugins, you can check my list of Top 15 Free Plugins which are well coded and quick to load
3. Use Cache Plugins
There are many free as well as paid cache management plugins available for WordPress. Below are the top 3 cache plugins for WordPress.
1. W3 Total Cache
I prefer W3 Total Cache over other plugins as it provides you a lot of advanced configurations to speed up your website. The number of configurations it provides can also be considered a drawback as most bloggers may find it difficult to set up the same.
I have covered a detailed article on Configuring W3 Total Cache which will help you walk through the necessary configurations to reduce your page load time. However, if you do not want to get into hassles of configuring the plugin, the developers do offer professional plugin configuration for $100.
2. WP Super Cache
WP Super cache is the most popular caching plugin and has been downloaded over 10 million times. It is a free plugin and requires little to no configuration. This makes it ideal for people who do not want to play with the settings.
However, for the professionals, it does not provide as many configuration options as W3 Total Cache. The lack of advanced options also makes it unsuitable if you want to fine tune your caching settings.
3. WP Rocket
Though WP Rocket comes with very limited advanced options, it is the fastest caching plugin out of the three. However, unlike the other two, it is not free and it’s price varies between $39 to $199 depending on the number of sites you want to use it on.
The main downside of the plugin is that, though you can use the plugin for the lifetime, you receive updates and support only for the first year from the date of purchase of the license. To continue receiving support and updates for the plugin, you have to renew the license every year.
4. Use Content Delivery Network (CDN)
If your hosting server is not located in the same region as your target readers or if you are targeting the global audience, use of CDN becomes imperative. A CDN backs up and delivers the content of your website through servers located as close as possible to the visitor which reduces latency and speeds up the website loading time.
I generally prefer and recommend using Cloudflare CDN which is freemium CDN service provider with most of its necessary functions available for free. Apart from serving files to your viewers from nearest location, Cloudflare also adds a security cover to protect your website from DDOS attacks.
Apart from serving files to your viewers from nearest location, Cloudflare also adds a security cover to protect your website from DDOS attacks. Add to it, CloudFlare also provides cache, minify and other settings to optimize your website to make it load faster.
5. Optimize Images
Images can increase your page size considerably. This, in turn, will drastically increase your page load time especially for users with slower internet connectivity. It is, therefore, necessary that you optimize your images to reduce its size.
There are various free and paid desktop software as well as WordPress plugins that help you to reduce your image size through lossless compression. While the latest version of WordPress does compress the image, I generally prefer using WP Smush, which is a free Image optimization plugin.
6. Delay Loading Of Images
If you use a lot of images on your blog, no matter how well you optimize it, it will take a lot of time to load as all the images will be loading simultaneously.
However, you can use free plugins like Lazy Load, to delay the loading of images until the user scrolls down. If you are using WP Rocket caching plugin, you get Lazy Load feature with the same.
7. Use Excerpts For Blog Page And Archives
Using full post for blog page and archives can significantly increase your page size as each post may contain lots of images and data. This will result in increased page load time.
By using excerpts, you can thus reduce your website load time. Additionally, unless you are running a magazine style blog, it is recommended to keep the number of post on blog page as less as possible. I prefer keeping it to 5 posts per page.
You can easily limit the number of posts per page by navigating to Setting > Reading on your WordPress Dashboard. On the same page, you also have the option to switch from “Full Text” to “Summary” view. However, some themes may require you to change the settings to show “Excerpts” in their theme control panel as well.
8. Deactivate Unused Plugins
Often times we install plugins only to realize that they do not add any value to the blog. Also, the default WordPress installation comes with a couple of plugins which most people may not need. You must make sure to uninstall these plugins as they may affect your website load time.
9. Cleanup WordPress Database
Larger WordPress database can slow down your website. Therefore you must clean your WordPress Database regularly to remove spam comments, post revisions, auto-draft posts and posts in trash.
WP-Optimize is a free plugin that allows you to automatically optimize your WordPress database at specified duration.
10. Disable Pingbacks And Trackbacks
Pingbacks and trackbacks are used by WordPress to notify you whenever someone links to your blog post. This can put unnecessary strain on the servers. Since there are other ways like Google Search Console to find out who is linking back to you, it is recommended to disable it.
To disable Pingbacks and Trackbacks, navigate to Setting > Discussion on your WordPress Dashboard and uncheck the option “
11. Block Crawler Spam
Crawler Spam is a black hat technique used by some SEO’s to increase traffic to their website. It sends unsolicited visitors to your server using fake referrer and the same is recorded in your Google Analytics thus also spoiling your data. The idea is, most webmasters will visit the link trying to figure out the source of traffic.
Crawler spam can put unnecessary load on your server by using your server bandwidth and other resources causing it to slow down. Hence, you must block them all.
If you are using CloudFlare CDN, it blocks most of the referral spam. For the rest, you can modify your .htaccess file to block them.
For more information on how to block Crawler Spam, you can read this guide from Ohow
Reduction Of Website Load Time For Bloggerz Arena
Using the above mentioned points, I managed to keep one my website, Bloggerz Arena’s load time close to 1 second. While I had already configured most of the above points for my blog, I decided to disable W3 Total Cache and Cloudflare CDN to see what difference it makes to my blog. Below are the results from this mini test.
With W3 Total Cache and Cloudflare disabled, according to GTMetrix, Bloggerz Arena generated whopping 99 requests with a Page load time of 4.7 seconds which is more than double of recommended 2 seconds.
According to Pingdom Test, Bloggerz Arena generated 113 requests with a Page Load time of 4.06 seconds.
Soon after capturing above results, I activated and configured W3 Total Cache and Cloudflare CDN and checked website load time using above 2 tools. The results were much better than what I expected it to be.
The number of requests generated by Bloggerz Arena came down from 99 to just 31. The page load time reduced from 4.7 seconds to just 0.8 second which is a reduction of 82%.
The above results show how important it is to use a caching plugin as well as CDN.
Website Load Time is certainly a critical factor both from user experience as well as SEO point of view. While bringing down your website load time may seem very complicated, if you follow the above points, it is not going to be very difficult.
Also, from the above tests carried on Bloggerz Arena, we can safely say that caching plugin and CDN has the greatest effect on your page load time. Having said that, it is also important for you to choose the right host, themes, and plugins and also optimize your images.
Are you following all the points suggested in this article? If yes, do let us know its effect on your website load time.