Improving the loading speed of WordPress is a task in which different factors come into play.
For that reason, in this post, we want to explain step by step how to maximize the WPO and how load speed affects the SEO.
To explain the whole process and to do it as simply as possible, we have divided the article into different specific sections.
In addition, for the part related to SEO, we have explained how load speed affects positioning.
So, if you want to improve the loading speed of your WordPress, we invite you to get comfortable and follow the advice that our team gives you.
Why should you improve the loading speed of WordPress?
Reducing WordPress loading time is very important for two main reasons:
- On the one hand, to improve the user experience that visits our website. It’s true, and you are always in a hurry and, if you access a website and you see that it does not load fast, you automatically close the page and leave, right?
- On the other hand, it is fundamental for The speed of loading a website significantly affects your positioning in Google (below we explain).
What factors affect the speed of loading WordPress?
There are several factors that affect the loading speed of WordPress. Some of them are:
- The accommodation. Working with a good hosting provider will determine the loading speed of your WordPress.
- The plugins that you have installed. The plugins are wonderful, right? plugins that you improve your website or blog in terms of design, functionality, options, etc., but they take up space, and this is a factor that also affects the loading speed. The greater the number of installed plugins, the longer the loading time.
- The weight of the images. This is one of our biggest struggles with clients. If you need a photograph for a post and its maximum width is 800px, why upload it with a width of 2500px and uncompressed? Therefore, the size of the images also affects. If you keep reading this post, we will teach you how to compress them effectively.
- The external tools that you have linked to your website also consume data and, therefore, reduce the loading time. Pop-ups, forms, tracking pixels, etc. make a series of calls to their own servers and ensure that the loading speed of your WordPress is higher to provide better results.
Tools to measure the loading speed of WordPress
Before starting the optimization process of WordPress, the first thing you should do is an analysis of the loading speed of your website.
For this, there are several tools and pages that offer you all the information you need to optimize your website.
# 1 Pingdom
Pingdom is a tool that analyzes the time of a website. It uses more than 70 centers to test and verify the analyzed pages.
With Pingdom, you can measure the loading time, performance and interactions of your WordPress in order to improve the user experience.
# 2 GTmetrix
GTmetrix is another very complete tool to analyze the speed of your site and thus make it faster.
Your results give you an idea of the status of your WordPress in terms of loading speed. In addition, it provides you with useful recommendations on how to optimize it.
Some of its most outstanding results are PageSpeed Score, YSlow Score, total load time, total page size or requests to other external servers.
# 3 PageSpeed
PageSpeed is a Google tool that measures the performance of a website on both mobile and desktop versions.
Your score goes from 0 to 100 points. Logically, the higher, the better it is.
# 4 Test my site
Test my site is also a Google tool that works with PageSpeed Insights technology and is specifically focused on mobile optimization.
The scores that it throws must be considered important points of improvement and valued in relation to the objectives of the website.
Some of its metrics are loading time or mobile optimization, all presented in a very visual and ordered through scores ranging from 0 to 100.
Plugins to reduce WordPress loading time
Now that you know what the factors that affect the speed of loading a web and the different tools to measure its speed are, we want to review the types of plugins that you can use if you are going to improve the loading speed of WordPress.
The Cache Plugins
The cache plugins are responsible for creating and storing a copy of the HTML files of a website to load them from there and increase the loading time.
That is, they store a copy of your website and, when the browser requests your upload, the plugin serves those files that you have stored.
In the market of cache plugins for WordPress, there are several options. These are some of them:
# 1) WP Rocket
In our opinion WP Rocket is the best plugin in its modality, that’s why we put it in the first place.
It is a payment plugin in which it is worth investing since its main objective is to accelerate the loading speed of your website.
Its functionality highlights are: caching, preloading the cache, load images “on demand” and compression of static files.
Throughout these years, we have tried the different cache plugins, and WP Rocket is by far the one that offers the best results.
Anyway, if you do not have the resources to invest in a paid plugin, here are some free options.
# 2 WP Super Cache
WP Super Cache is responsible for creating static HTML files from your website. Once the copy has been created, your server will serve that file instead of processing the WordPress PHP scripts, which are much heavier and consume a lot of resources.
# 3 W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache is a plugin designed to improve SEO and user experience by increasing the performance of your page, reducing download times through functions such as the integration of the content delivery network (CDN).
# 4 WP Fastest Cache
Like all other plugins, WP Fastest Cache creates static HTML files from your website.
When a page is processed, PHP and MySQL are used. Therefore, the system needs RAM and CPU.
The configuration of this plugin is very simple. You do not need to modify the .htacces file, because it does it automatically.
# 5 BJ Lazy Load
BJ Lazy Load is not exactly a cache plugin, but we wanted to include it in this category because loading images on demand make the speed of the website faster and save bandwidth.
This plugin replaces all the published images and the content of iframes with a placeholder and loads the content as the user slides the page.
Since it works with iframes, it also covers embedded videos from YouTube, Vimeo, etc. You can also upload other images and iframes to your theme, using a simple filter.
When do we recommend the use of these plugins?
In our experience, it has worked very well in blogs that use many photos in their posts and pages, such as a fashion blog, kitchen or lifestyle, where images take precedence over the rest of the content.
Plugins To Clean The WordPress Database
Every website created with WordPress (the .org version) is associated with a database in which the data related to our website is stored.
This database must also be optimized and cleaned every so often so that it does not store “junk” that makes the website load slow.
There are several plugins to perform this maintenance task of the database. We detail them below:
# 1 Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions
This plugin serves to optimize the WordPress database after eliminating revisions of entries and pages.
Surely you did not know that every time you check a post or a page, WordPress keeps a full copy, right?
This means that, if you check an entry three times, WordPress automatically saves the same entry three times in full, which makes it occupy three times as much space in the database.
Therefore, this plugin deletes all those copies that WordPress stores by default so as not to consume so much space in the database.
It is possible to configure it to be cleaned by days or by the maximum number of recent revisions. In our case, we have it configured to clean for revisions that exceed five days old.
# 2 WP-Optimize
WP-Optimize is a very effective plugin to automatically clean the database of your WordPress so that it works with maximum efficiency and loads in the fastest way.
The most exciting features of this plugin are: optimize the tables in the database, clean all revisions of entries, clean all automatic deletions and discarded posts, and delete spam messages and comments from the bin or not have been approved.
It is the one that we use and recommend!
Plugins To Optimize And Compress Images
As we said before, one of the main factors that affect the speed of loading WordPress is the size and weight of the images contained in the website.
Therefore, we always recommend installing a plugin that is responsible for resizing and compressing its weight.
In particular, for this task, we use the Smush Image Compression and Optimization plugin or better known as WP Smush.
The objective of this plugin is to compress the images of your website once you have uploaded them.
Optimizing images is essential to improve the performance of WordPress and speed up its loading process.
In that sense, WP Smush is responsible for resizing, optimizing and compressing all the images that you upload to your website.
It is one of our essential plugins when it comes to designing a website or blog in WordPress.
Plugins To Minify The Code In WordPress
Finally, there is a type of plugins whose objective is to minify the code generated by WordPress, plugins, templates or layout templates.
And the minified code would look like this:
# 1 Fast Velocity Minify
To carry out this task, in our designs we use the Fast Velocity Minify.
Did you know that Alejandro has a plugin? No, right?
The fundamental objective of this plugin is to eliminate the unnecessary chains of code. You just have to install it, and you do not need to do anything else.
# 2 Autoptimize
Autoptimize is a plugin responsible for adding, minimizing and caching scripts and styles.
It also injects CSS into the page header by default, moves and differs the scripts at the bottom of the page and minimizes HTML.
# 3 WP Super Minify
To check if the plugin is working correctly, you can check the source code of your site or press Ctrl + U on the keyboard.
# 4 Better WordPress Minify
Better WordPress Minify allows you to combine and minify CSS and JS files to improve the loading time of your page.
This plugin uses the PHP Minify library and is based on the WordPress encryption system instead of the output buffer, which respects the order of the CSS and JS files, as well as their dependencies.
How to compress the images in WordPress to reduce its weight and size (our method)
Compressing the images before uploading them to your website is essential since it is one of the resources that consume the most data and you should optimize them if you want to improve the loading speed of WordPress.
Next, we are going to explain the process that we use, and it offers us satisfactory results (sure there are many more):
# 1 Photoshop
The first thing we do, before uploading our images to the WordPress image library, is to work them in Photoshop.
The program has an option called Save for the web, which allows you to choose the size and format of the image you want to save especially to upload it to your website.
# 2 Compressor.io
we have saved a web for the web using Photoshop, and we are going to compressor.io and recompress them.
Done this second step, the images would already be ready to be uploaded to WordPress.
# 3 WP Smush Plugin
Finally, the images are re-optimized with WP Smush, a plugin that we have installed and configured so that the pictures are compressed automatically when we upload them.
So far the part related to plugins and image optimization to improve the loading speed of WordPress now we leave you with all the details about how the WPO affects SEO.
Load speed factors to be evaluated for SEO
When an initial audit or examination is prepared for an SEO project, there are common points to be analyzed in all web projects. One of them is the WPO and within this, our beloved loading speed.
The first thing we must do is to make an initial general diagnosis about the loading speed. According to the characteristics of the type of web project, we must evaluate mainly these points:
- Download time. The download timeis a direct and important indicator to evaluate the download speed. It is obvious that if a web takes a long time to load, the user’s time is not infinite and will end up leaving before browsing our website. If the download time is longer than 3 seconds, we should start worrying.
- The number of HTTP requests. Another indicator to consider is the number of HTTP requests. The more files your website has, the more HTTP requests are made. This influences the increase of loading time and especially in the user experience.
- HTTP2. It is convenient to check if the website is updated with HTTP2. If the previous HTTP 1.1 protocol has been updated and passed to HTTP2, the benefits in UX and upload speedare innumerable.
- Latencies / Bandwidth. We must not only diagnose internal factors. The latency influences the time it takes to load a web. HTML, CSS, JS and images files can be downloaded with several connections in parallel, but each connection has a time cost between the request and the first byte is received. Therefore, latency is a key point to consider.
- The weight of the files. We must measure large files, as they will significantly affect mobile devices and the desktop. Many CSS and JS files have additional characters (line breaks, spaces or others) that influence the weight of our website and its loading speed.
Once we have measured and checked the general indicators that affect the speed of the load, we move on to the next step. For this purpose, all indicators are usually examined from two perspectives: Front-End and Back End.
Indicators of loading speed in Front-End of the web for SEO
From the Front-End point of view, to evaluate the loading speed we must examine these possible causes:
- CSS and JS files. How many types of files are there? How are they located in HTML? Can JS and CSS files be combined? Can JS and CSS files be minified?).
- Size and format of images and media files in web design. How much space do they occupy? What type are they (PNG, JPG, GIF, etc.)?
- Compression (files and formats). Considering the size of the files, have all the files been compressed? Is the type of files with less weight used?
- Preload actions. Has preload been carried out? Have preload tags been included (prefect or preloads)?
- Third – party APIs. Are there third parties APIS (e.g., Google Maps)? What is the API used for? Does it benefit the user experience? Does it affect web performance?
Speed indicators of the load in Back-End of the web for SEO
It would help if you also diagnosed possible causes that may affect the web loading speed in the Back-End, such as:
- CMS used. Check the type of CMS used (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Prestashop, etc.) and its specific characteristics.
- Exam of the PHP code. Examine the quality and optimization of the PHP code that may influence the loading and browsing of the web.
- Examination of the database:
- Examine queries to the database and ways to improve queries to it.
- Search optimization formulas to them.
- Check if there is a plugin that hinders the loading of the web.
- You can also check the utility of them, their performance and the pros/cons of their use.
- Type of server:
- Measure server response time (tools such as ServerTest).
- Check the placement of the server taking into account our users.
- Evaluate the type of IP (shared, dedicated, etc.).
- Check if the server misuses the resources.
- Study accelerate your response by installing other software (Ex: Change Apache by NGINX or LiteSpeed). Study changes in technology (e.g., SSD disks instead of HDD).
- Type of hosting: You have to evaluate if the web is hosted in a shared hosting, cloud server, or if you host your website in a free cloud server. You have to see the convenience of hosting with the web project.
Why does loading speed affect our SEO-SEM strategy?
The question in this article is clear: Why load speed affects or is important in our SEO-SEM Strategy. What are the consequences of having a certain loading speed?
Web loading speed is an important factor in organic SEO positioning. We would call it key. Every SEO-SEM specialist would have to take it as a further duty when optimizing a website.
The statistical data and the conclusions drawn from them corroborate this:
- 47% of users expect a page to load in less than 2 seconds.
- 14% change web e-commerce if the page takes time to load.
- 40% of users leave a page that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
- 64% of the buyer-people, who are not satisfied, go to another site for their next purchase.
With all this information and the previous one, we can draw several conclusions that will serve as an answer to the question in this section:
- The loading speed directly affects the conversion rate and the number of sales.
- It influences the user’s satisfaction and experience in navigating the web itself.
- Optimal web speed performance will reduce the bounce rate and increase the number of page views in the navigation.
- It can favor a return of the user to the website and its subsequent loyalty.
- The loading speed directly impacts the Google Ads rating on the user experience in the Landing Page.
- It will help reduce ad costs and improve the position of the ads.
- It’s better to prevent than to cure. Since Google announced in 2013 that websites with poor optimization could suffer penalties in search results, the loading speed is one more index to optimize.
We hope that with all these tips that we give you in this post you can improve both the SEO and the loading speed of WordPress.