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Tjibby Blog/Content Marketing/How to increase the speed of your WordPress site? | The Ultimate Playbook

How to increase the speed of your WordPress site? | The Ultimate Playbook

Monday, April 03, 2023

Hey there, fellow speed racers! It's Sarah, your trusty Tjibby Marketing guide, and today we're going to dive into the thrilling world of WordPress speed optimization. If you've ever found yourself asking, "How can I speed up my WordPress website?" or lamenting, "Why is my WordPress website slower than a snail with a caffeine deficiency?", you're in the right place!

Our mission at Tjibby Marketing is to make complex topics like these as easy as child's play, so buckle up as we take you on a wild ride through the WP accelerator playbook. It's packed with tips, tricks, and strategies to turbocharge your WordPress site, leaving those pesky loading times in the dust. So, grab your favorite cup of coffee and let's zoom into the fast lane together!

Why should you want to increase the speed of your WordPress site?

"Why should I want to increase the speed of my WordPress site?" you might ask. Well, my fellow small business owners and marketers, the answer is simple: Speed matters!

Just like how we all love our coffee served piping hot and fast, your website visitors expect the same speedy experience. Here's why speeding up your WordPress site should be on your priority list:

  • โ€‹User Experience: We live in a fast-paced world where time is of the essence. A slow-loading site is like a boring thriller book โ€“ nobody wants to stick around to see how it ends. When your website loads quickly, you keep your visitors engaged and coming back for more.
  • โ€‹Search Engine Rankings: No one likes to be stuck in the slow lane, especially not Google. Search engines prioritize faster websites when it comes to rankings. By improving your site's speed, you'll boost your chances of appearing higher in search results.
  • โ€‹Conversion Rates: If your website is as slow as a mouse on a lazy Sunday, you're likely to lose potential customers. Faster sites have better conversion rates, which means more sales, sign-ups, or whatever goals you've set for your business.
  • โ€‹Mobile Experience: With more people browsing the internet on their smartphones, having a fast-loading site is crucial. A speedy site ensures a smooth experience for mobile users, keeping them on your site and increasing the likelihood they'll become customers.

Now that you know why it's important to speed up your WordPress site, let's jump into the WP accelerator playbook and kick your site into high gear!

Checklist
Before we dive headfirst into the WP accelerator playbook, let's make sure we're all set for the adventure. Like any good thriller book, it's best to have a safety net in place just in case things get a little wild. So, grab our handy checklist [Click here] and make sure you have everything you need to follow along.

Ready? Great! Let's get started with Play 1.1: Backup!

Play 1.1: Create a Backup!

Before we tinker with anything on your WordPress site, it's essential to create a backup. Think of it as a safety net, like the marshmallow in your coffee โ€“ if something goes wrong, it'll be there to catch you!

Creating a backup ensures that you can quickly restore your site to its original state if anything goes awry during the optimization process. There are several ways to backup your site, such as using a plugin like UpdraftPlus, a backup service like VaultPress, or even manually through your hosting provider.

Now that you've got your backup in place, we can move forward with confidence, knowing we've got a safety net ready to catch us if needed. Next up: assessing your website's current performance!

Play 1.2: Checking your website performance

Before we can speed up your WordPress site, we need to know where it currently stands. It's like figuring out how fast your favorite coffee shop serves up your cup of joe โ€“ you need a baseline to measure improvements. In this step, we'll use Pingdom, a fantastic tool to evaluate your site's performance.

Here's a step-by-step guide to using Pingdom:

  • โ€‹Visit the Pingdom website at https://tools.pingdom.com/.
  • โ€‹In the "Enter a URL" field, type in your website's address (e.g., https://www.example.com).
  • โ€‹Select the testing location closest to your target audience (e.g., if your audience is mostly in North America, choose the North American server).
  • Click "Start Test" and watch as Pingdom works its magic.

Once the test is complete, Pingdom will provide you with a detailed performance report, including an overall performance grade, load time, and page size. It will also identify bottlenecks and potential improvements, which we'll use later to optimize your site.

Keep this report handy โ€“ it's like a treasure map that will guide us through the optimization process. And don't worry if you feel a little lost right now; we'll decipher the results together in the next plays.

With your website's current performance measured, it's time to move on to Play 1.3, where we'll take a look at another built-in tool for assessing your site's speed!

Play 1.3: Using Chrome's built-in tool: Lighthouse

Aside from Pingdom, we can also use Lighthouse, a fantastic built-in tool in the Google Chrome browser, to assess your site's performance. It's like having a secret decoder ring for your website's speed mysteries.

Here's a step-by-step guide to using Lighthouse:

  • โ€‹Open Google Chrome and navigate to your website.
  • โ€‹Right-click anywhere on the page and select "Inspect" from the context menu to open the Chrome Developer Tools.
  • โ€‹In the Developer Tools window, click on the "Lighthouse" tab. If you don't see it, you may need to click the double arrows (>>) to access the additional tabs.
  • Make sure the "Performance" checkbox is selected, and choose the device type (either "Mobile" or "Desktop") for which you want to run the test.
  • โ€‹Click the "Generate report" button, and let Lighthouse work its magic.

Once Lighthouse has completed the test, it will present you with a detailed report, including a performance score, metrics like First Contentful Paint (FCP) and Time to Interactive (TTI), and suggestions for improvement. The higher the score, the better your website's performance.

Don't worry if the jargon feels overwhelming โ€“ we'll use these insights to guide us in the following plays as we work together to speed up your WordPress site. Like a gripping thriller book, the excitement is just beginning!

With both Pingdom and Lighthouse reports in hand, we're now equipped with the knowledge needed to optimize your site. In the next play, we'll start analyzing your website's performance in greater detail. Let's go!

Play 2.1: Analyzing your website's performance

Now that we have our Pingdom and Lighthouse reports, it's time to put on our detective hats and dig into the data. Analyzing your website's performance is like solving a riddle or cracking a code โ€“ every piece of information is a clue that brings us closer to the ultimate goal of a lightning-fast WordPress site.

Here's what to look for when analyzing your website's performance:

  • โ€‹Performance Scores: Both Pingdom and Lighthouse provide an overall performance score. A higher score indicates better performance. Compare the scores from both tools to get a general idea of how well your site is doing.
  • Load Time: Pay attention to the load time on both reports. This is the time it takes for your site to fully load for users. Ideally, your site should load in under 3 seconds. If it's taking longer, there's room for improvement.
  • โ€‹Page Size: The size of your page, measured in kilobytes (KB) or megabytes (MB), affects the load time. Smaller pages typically load faster, so try to keep your page size as low as possible.
  • Requests: Each element on your website โ€“ like images, CSS files, and JavaScript files โ€“ requires a separate request to load. The more requests, the longer it takes for your site to load. Look for opportunities to reduce the number of requests to improve load time.
  • โ€‹Improvement Opportunities: Both Pingdom and Lighthouse offer suggestions for improving your website's performance. Make a note of these recommendations, as we'll be tackling them in the upcoming plays.

With a deeper understanding of your website's performance, we're ready to dive into the optimization process. We'll start by searching for unused tools and scripts, finding bad response codes, and more. It's time to roll up our sleeves and get to work โ€“ our website speed adventure is just getting started!

Play 2.2: Examine your website's performance reports in greater detail

As we continue on our thrilling website speed adventure, it's time to scrutinize our Pingdom and Lighthouse reports more closely. Like a detective searching for clues, we'll examine these performance reports in greater detail to uncover hidden optimization opportunities.

Here's how to delve deeper into your website's performance reports:

  • โ€‹Check Resource Types: Both Pingdom and Lighthouse provide a breakdown of resource types on your site, such as images, scripts, stylesheets, and more. Look for any resource types that are disproportionately large, as they may be causing your site to slow down. For instance, if images are taking up a significant portion of your page size, it might be time to compress or optimize them.
  • Analyze Load Time by Resource: Review the load time for each resource on your site. This information can help you identify problematic files or scripts that may be slowing down your site. In Pingdom, you can view this data by clicking on "File Requests" and sorting by load time. In Lighthouse, you can see this information in the "Opportunities" section of the report.
  • โ€‹Identify Unused or Redundant Resources: As you examine your website's performance reports, you may discover unused or redundant resources that are unnecessarily weighing down your site. These could include inactive plugins, outdated scripts, or multiple copies of the same resource. Make a note of these resources, as we'll address them in the upcoming plays.
  • Review Warnings and Errors: Both Pingdom and Lighthouse will flag warnings and errors that could be negatively impacting your site's performance. These may include issues like render-blocking resources, unoptimized images, or slow server response times. Keep track of these warnings and errors, as we'll tackle them one by one in our optimization journey.

With a deeper understanding of your website's performance, we're ready to dive into the optimization process. We'll start by searching for unused tools and scripts, finding bad response codes, and more. It's time to roll up our sleeves and get to work โ€“ our website speed adventure is just getting started!

Play 2.3: Searching for tools and scripts that you haven't used in a long time

As we continue our exhilarating website speed adventure, it's time to address the forgotten, neglected, and abandoned tools and scripts lurking in the corners of your WordPress site. It's like cleaning out the attic of an old house โ€“ you never know what you might find!

Unused or outdated tools and scripts can bog down your website and negatively impact performance. Here's how to hunt down these performance-hindering relics and give your site a fresh, clean start:

  • โ€‹Review your theme: Evaluate your current WordPress theme and any additional scripts or stylesheets it may be loading. Are there any unused scripts, styles, or features that can be removed or disabled? Streamlining your theme can lead to significant performance improvements.
  • Examine custom scripts: If you've added any custom scripts to your site, take the time to review them. Are there any scripts that are no longer needed or could be replaced with more efficient alternatives? Clean up your custom scripts to ensure they're not slowing down your site.
  • โ€‹Check for external resources: Review your site for external resources, such as fonts, stylesheets, or scripts loaded from third-party websites. Are these resources still necessary, or can they be replaced with more lightweight alternatives? Minimizing external resources can help speed up your site.

By searching for and removing unused tools and scripts, you're giving your WordPress site a much-needed performance boost. With a leaner, meaner site, we're ready to tackle the next play: finding and fixing bad response codes. Onward to an even faster website experience!

Play 2.4: Finding bad response codes

As we forge ahead on our website speed adventure, it's time to tackle bad response codes. Like a pesky mouse that scurries out of sight, these sneaky little errors can cause your site's performance to suffer without you even realizing it.

Bad response codes, such as 404 (Not Found) or 500 (Internal Server Error), indicate that something's not quite right with your site. They can lead to broken links, slow loading times, and a subpar user experience. Here's how to hunt down and fix bad response codes on your WordPress site:

  • Use an online tool: Several online tools can help you identify bad response codes on your site. One popular option is Screaming Frog's SEO Spider. Run a crawl of your site with the tool, and then filter the results by response codes to find any problematic URLs.
  • Check your logs: Your web hosting provider likely maintains logs of your site's requests and responses. Examine these logs to identify any recurring bad response codes, and then investigate the corresponding URLs to find the root cause of the issue.
  • โ€‹Review your .htaccess file: The .htaccess file is a configuration file used by your web server. It can be a source of bad response codes if it contains incorrect or outdated rules. Review your .htaccess file to ensure it's correctly configured and free of errors.
  • โ€‹Monitor your site: Regularly monitoring your site's performance and health can help you catch bad response codes before they become a significant problem. You can use tools like Uptime Robot or Pingdom to monitor your site and receive notifications if any issues arise.

By finding and fixing bad response codes, you're smoothing out the bumps in your site's performance and paving the way for a faster, more enjoyable user experience. Now that we've addressed these hidden troublemakers, it's time to move on to Play 3.1 and start making some impactful optimizations!

Play 3.1: Decrease your homepage size by showing fewer blog posts upfront

As we continue our exhilarating quest for a faster WordPress site, let's shift our focus to the homepage. Like the cover of an enticing thriller book, your homepage is often the first thing visitors see when they land on your site. To ensure a speedy, welcoming experience, we need to keep the homepage size in check.

One effective way to decrease your homepage size is by showing fewer blog posts upfront. Displaying too many posts can lead to long load times, as each post requires additional resources like images, scripts, and styles. Here's how to reduce the number of blog posts displayed on your homepage:

  • Log in to your WordPress dashboard: Navigate to your WordPress admin area by visiting https://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin (replace yourdomain.com with your actual domain). Enter your login credentials to access the dashboard.
  • Navigate to the Reading Settings: In the left-hand menu, hover over "Settings" and click on "Reading."
  • โ€‹Adjust the number of posts: In the "Blog pages show at most" section, you'll find a field where you can set the number of posts to display on your homepage. Reduce this number to a more manageable amount, such as 5-7 posts. This will help decrease the overall size of your homepage and speed up load times.
  • โ€‹Save your changes: Click the "Save Changes" button at the bottom of the page to apply your new settings.

By displaying fewer blog posts on your homepage, you're taking a significant step toward improving your site's overall performance. With a lighter, faster homepage, your visitors can enjoy a smoother, more satisfying experience from the moment they arrive.

Now that we've optimized the homepage, it's time to move on to Play 3.2, where we'll audit your WordPress plugins and make even more performance improvements!

Play 3.2: Auditing your WordPress Plugins

On our action-packed journey to a lightning-fast WordPress site, we've now arrived at the critical task of auditing your plugins. Like a well-organized toolbox, your WordPress plugins should be efficient, up-to-date, and essential to the function of your site. Unnecessary plugins can weigh down your site, increase load times, and create security vulnerabilities.

Here's how to conduct a thorough audit of your WordPress plugins:

  • Log in to your WordPress dashboard: Navigate to your WordPress admin area by visiting https://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin (replace yourdomain.com with your actual domain). Enter your login credentials to access the dashboard.
  • Navigate to the Plugins page: In the left-hand menu, click on "Plugins" to see a list of all the plugins installed on your site.
  • โ€‹Review each plugin: Carefully examine each plugin on the list. Ask yourself the following questions:ย Is this plugin necessary for my site's functionality? -ย Is this plugin up-to-date and compatible with my current WordPress version? -ย Are there any known security issues with this plugin? -Can the functionality of this plugin be replaced with a more efficient alternative or built-in WordPress feature?
  • โ€‹Deactivate and delete unused plugins: If you find any plugins that are no longer needed or have become obsolete, deactivate them by clicking the "Deactivate" link below the plugin name. Once deactivated, click the "Delete" link to remove the plugin completely.
  • โ€‹Update plugins and themes: Keeping your plugins and themes updated is essential for maintaining optimal performance and security. From the Plugins page, click "Update Available" to view a list of plugins with available updates. Select each plugin you want to update, and click "Update Plugins" to apply the updates. Perform a similar process for your themes by navigating to the "Themes" page under "Appearance."

By auditing your WordPress plugins, you're streamlining your site and ensuring that only the most efficient and essential tools are at play. With a leaner, meaner plugin lineup, we're ready to rocket into Play 4.1, where we'll explore the power of the WordPress WP Rocket plugin!

Play 4.1: The WordPress WP ROCKET Plugin ๐Ÿš€

As our thrilling journey to a super-fast WordPress site continues, it's time to introduce a powerful ally in our quest for speed: the WP Rocket plugin ๐Ÿš€! This premium caching and performance optimization plugin can help transform your slow WordPress website into a lean, mean, speed machine.

Here's a quick overview of the benefits and features of the WP Rocket plugin:

  • Caching: WP Rocket creates a static HTML version of your pages, which reduces server load and speeds up page load times for your visitors.
  • GZIP Compression: WP Rocket automatically enables GZIP compression, which reduces the size of your files and makes your site load even faster.
  • โ€‹Minification and Concatenation: WP Rocket minifies and combines your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files, reducing their size and the number of requests your site needs to load.
  • โ€‹Lazy Loading: WP Rocket's lazy loading feature ensures that images and videos only load when they are visible to the user, improving initial load times.
  • โ€‹DNS Prefetching: WP Rocket prefetches DNS requests for external resources, like Google Fonts and analytics scripts, reducing the time it takes to load these resources.
  • โ€‹CDN Integration: WP Rocket is compatible with most Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), which can further speed up your site by serving your content from a server closest to your visitors.

To start using WP Rocket on your WordPress site, follow these steps:

  • Purchase and download WP Rocket:Visit the WP Rocket website and purchase a license. Download the plugin .zip file.
  • Install and activate the plugin: In your WordPress dashboard, navigate to the "Plugins" page, and click "Add New." Upload the .zip file, and click "Install Now." Once installed, activate the plugin.
  • โ€‹Configure WP Rocket settings: WP Rocket offers a user-friendly interface to configure your caching and performance settings. Navigate to "Settings" > "WP Rocket" in your dashboard, and adjust the settings as needed. WP Rocket provides helpful documentation and tooltips to guide you through the process.

With WP Rocket on your side, your WordPress site is ready to blast off at warp speed! But our optimization adventure isn't over yet. In Play 4.2, we'll explore how to install an image optimizer plugin to further improve your site's performance.

Play 4.2: Installing an Image Optimizer Plugin

As we soar through our WordPress site speed journey, it's essential to remember that images can be significant culprits when it comes to slow loading times. Like that extra shot of espresso in your coffee, optimizing your images can give your site the boost it needs to deliver content faster and more efficiently.

An image optimizer plugin can compress your images without sacrificing quality, ensuring that your site loads quickly while still looking great. Here's how to install and configure an image optimizer plugin on your WordPress site:

  • Choose an image optimizer plugin: There are several excellent image optimizer plugins available, such as ShortPixel, Imagify, and EWWW Image Optimizer. Review their features and pricing, and select the plugin that best suits your needs.
  • Install and activate the plugin: In your WordPress dashboard, navigate to the "Plugins" page and click "Add New." Search for the chosen plugin, and click "Install Now." Once installed, activate the plugin
  • โ€‹Sign up for an API key (if required): Some image optimizer plugins, like ShortPixel and Imagify, require you to sign up for an API key to use their service. Visit the plugin's website and sign up for an account. You'll receive an API key via email, which you'll need to enter in your plugin settings.
  • โ€‹Configure the plugin settings: In your WordPress dashboard, navigate to the settings page for your image optimizer plugin (usually found under the "Settings" or "Media" menu). Adjust the settings to your preferences, such as the level of compression and whether to optimize images on upload. If your plugin requires an API key, enter it in the designated field.
  • โ€‹Optimize existing images (optional): If you've been running your site without image optimization, you may want to optimize your existing images. Most image optimizer plugins offer a bulk optimization feature, which allows you to compress all the images on your site with just a few clicks. Follow the plugin's instructions to perform bulk optimization.

With an image optimizer plugin installed and configured, your WordPress site is now primed for delivering content quickly and efficiently without sacrificing image quality. As we approach the final stretch of our optimization journey, it's time to move on to Play 5.1 and re-test your site's performance!

Play 5.1: Re-Testing your pages

As we near the end of our thrilling speed-boosting expedition, it's time to put your newly optimized WordPress site to the test. Re-testing your pages will allow you to measure the impact of your optimization efforts and make any final tweaks if necessary.

Here's how to re-test your pages using Pingdom and Lighthouse:

Using Pingdom:

  • Visit the Pingdom Website Speed Test tool.
  • Enter your website URL in the "URL" field.
  • โ€‹Select a testing location that's closest to your target audience.
  • โ€‹Click "Start Test" and wait for the test to complete.
  • โ€‹Review the test results and compare them with your previous test to see the improvements in load time, performance grade, and other metrics.

Using Lighthouse:

  • Open Google Chrome and navigate to your website.
  • Right-click anywhere on the page, and select "Inspect" to open the Chrome Developer Tools.
  • โ€‹Click the "Lighthouse" tab in the Developer Tools panel
  • โ€‹Ensure the "Performance" checkbox is selected, and click "Generate report."
  • โ€‹Review the test results and compare them with your previous test to see the improvements in performance score, load time, and other metrics.

Take note of the improvements and celebrate your hard-earned success! If you're still not satisfied with your site's performance, revisit the previous plays and make any additional adjustments as needed.

Conclusion

Congratulations! You've successfully completed the WP Accelerator Playbook and transformed your slow WordPress website into a speedier, more efficient experience for your visitors. By implementing these optimization strategies, you're ensuring that your site ranks higher, retains visitors, and provides a better user experience. Now that your site is running smoothly, it's time to kick back, enjoy a well-deserved cup of coffee, and watch your site soar to new heights!

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