The time taken to load a webpage can affect your website at various levels.
A study suggests 49% of users abandon a site or shift to a competitor if it fails to load fast. This means a drastic decrease in users taking any desired actions, leading to low conversion rates, higher bounce rate etc.
Page loading time is one of the metrics Google uses to rank a website. Faster websites rank higher in SERPs. Hence, it should definitely be a part of your SEO strategy.
Page performance optimization includes
- Removal of unused CSS
- Compression of images displayed on your site
- Using HTML and CSS to scale images rather than used multiple copies of an image for different sizes
- Enabling browser caching
Fortunately for those of us who use WordPress, we have plugins and tools to take care of page speed optimization without the need for (much) technical knowledge.
WordPress Plugins for database optimization:
W3 Total Cache is a very useful plugin for optimizing your webpages.
It caches and compresses CSS and JS files, enables browser caching, removes unnecessary data from CSS, JS, feed, page and post code and support content delivery network (CDN) integration. This helps reducing page load time, saves bandwidth and improves site performance immensely.
A nice plugin which lets WordPress use jQuery from Google's own super fast content delivery network instead of using files from your own site.
An important benefit of using Google Libraries is that there are good chances site visitors have the files cached by their browsers already.
Apart from this, the plugin also takes load off the hosted server and uses compressed version of libraries if available.
Optimizes your WordPress database by clearing up unused data. It removes post revisions which are saved in the database every time you save a post, the comments in spam box and unapproved comments clearing up the wasted space. The plugin shrinks database tables and optimizes them. It can also let you change WP username easily.
Images used on your site should be efficiently formatted and compressed to reduce the download time for users over slow internet connection.
PNG or JPG formats are recommended unless you have an animation or graphics to be shown for which GIF image should be used.
GIMP is a useful image editing program which can be used for basic image optimization. Here are two more simple, efficient, open-source image optimization tools recommended by Google Page Speed for performing advanced optimization which involves lossless compression the images.
Lossless compression will help compress an image without any loss of data or quality. Using jpegtran you can resize, transform or crop a jpeg image without losing its fidelity.
OptiPNG is an image optimizer tool for PNG images. Apart from its ability to compress images without losing any data, OptiPNG can also convert BMP, GIF, PNM and TIFF formats to optimized PNG format.
These are only a few ways to speed up your site loading time without many technicalities. Try it out and let me know additional ways to speed up your WordPress site.
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Ajit Nair is a web & visual media consultant and an avid tech enthusiast. Apart from managing educational projects for children, Ajit likes to dive into the depths of social and search engine media and writes for his technology blog.