How to optimize page load speed in WordPress

by Ajit Nair October 19th, 2011 

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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 HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Minify HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • 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

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.

Use Google Libraries

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.

WP-Optimize

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.

Image Optimizers:

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.

Jpegtran

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

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

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.

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6 Responses to “How to optimize page load speed in WordPress”

  1. Koozai Mike says:

    Great post Ajit, I know a lot of people struggle with WordPress SEO because they are concerned they'll break the code, so the plugins are much appreciated.

    • Ajit Nair says:

      Thanks Mike. I agree with you completely. Plugins make WordPress an even better CMS to work with and make it more SEO friendly. However, people should be wary of the fact that too many plugins can actually slow down their website.

  2. W3 Total Cache can work, but it's more complicated than other caching plugins. And the complexity doesn't appear to add significantly to its performance (based on my own experience, not exhaustive studies). I recommend folks new to caching plugins start with WP Super Cache.

    There's also jQuery Image Lazy Load that in theory should speed page loads. I've tried it and it works as described, but I wasn't able to measure an impact to reported page load times in GWT.

  3. Ajit Nair says:

    Thanks for your input Marios! I'll surely check these out!

  4. rakesh kumar says:

    Dear Ajit, My question is when ever we upload any file into wordpress then it crop a defined size from that uploaded image. Now google pagespeed show that this croped image can be compressed loos lessly to improve page speed. Do you have any idea how to do this. Waiting for your kind attention

  5. Siegfried says:

    really good plugins, I especially like the one to use google libraries.
    if you want to optimize jpg and png try JPEGmini and TinyPNG – pretty good image optimizers IMHO!
    Best Regards!