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Website Improvement Series
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How To Speed Up Your Website

Table of Contents

Introduction

We live in a fast-paced world, and people dont like to wait for anything.

A fast-loading website can greatly enhance your business’s online success. If your website doesn’t load within 5 seconds, 90% of visitors will leave. You’ll also be downgraded in search engines, decreasing your chances of ranking highly.

This is why optimising your site’s speed can make a real difference to the results you see through your website. 

Speed optimisation can be a challenge, especially for big, complex sites. It’s a case of striking the right balance between usability and functionality to achieve your scores

Unless you have an ecommerce or online education platform that requires more advanced plugins and functionality, it should be fairly easy to achieve a faster-loading website.

A slow website can happen for many reasons, including plugins, big images, poor hosting, and no speed optimisation applied to the site. 

In this step, we’ll look at these common reasons and how to identify and fix these issues.

How do we know if our site is slow?

The speed eye test 

Does your site feel slow? When you click a link, does it feel like an age to move to the next page? If your site feels fast and instant, you pass the eye test.

Technical speed test

What scores do you get when you run your site through a speed testing tool? The most widely used tool is Google Page Insights. But it’s always good to test the site on multiple tools, as this may highlight differences one may not find. We like to use GTMetrix.

When you do this, you get a score for mobile and desktop. You’ll also get a list of reasons for the issues—a lot will make no sense, but they will guide you. Don’t worry; I’ll explain these in the videos below.

Core Vitals

It’s a common myth that having great scores on Google Page Insights will mean your site is fast and will give you an SEO advantage over your competition. 

The truth is Google doesn’t factor these scores in at all. 

They care about user experience; this is where their core vitals come in. They are more likely to punish you in search engines for failing core vitals because it’s seen as a poorer user experience.

If you improve your speed audit scores, your core vitals should improve, but it can become more complex to pass core vitals on both desktop and mobile devices, so a deeper, more granular approach may be needed here. You may also have to compromise on some elements of your site or a particular page. 

For example, that massive sliding banner section may have to go, or you may need to remove the blog feed section at the bottom of the page. 

Let’s run an audit and see what we get.

So, after running a speed audit, you should have a better idea of the main reasons your site is giving poor scores.

There are a few of the default actions to take to start boosting your speed scores.

How to fix your website's speed issues.

1. Install a Speed Optimisation Plugin

There are many speed optimisation plugins available. One popular choice is WPRocket, which offers a range of features to help improve your site’s speed, including file minification, image lazy loading, and caching. 

After working with WordPress for the past 15 years and trying multiple speed optimisation plugins, WPRocket is our preferred option. 

A speed optimisation plugin will help solve many issues in a speed audit score.

Things like

  • Unminified files.
  • Wrong image formats 
  • Image Lazy loading
  • Missing Image Dimensions
  • Caching
  • and More

The tool will help you to

  • Cache and minify your files
  • Preload links and pages
  • Delay the load of scripts 
  • Clean up your database
  • Lazy load images
  • Control your heartbeat

Watch this video on how to set up WPRocket on your site.

2. Image Optimisation

Large image loading on websites is a common issue I regularly see and can have a big impact.

The more data you ask the browser to download, the longer it takes.

Adding a 3 MB and 9000px wide image when it only needs to fit in an 800px wide space can negatively impact a web page’s speed. 

The good news is that you can prevent this in a few simple steps.

We are lucky to have image resizing tools as part of our work, but if you dont have access to these tools, free online tools are available.

Tiny PNG – If you want to compress an image size, this tool does a great job.

Image Resizer – This is a great free tool for cropping, resizing, and compressing images in one place.

Onsite Image Compression Plugin

You’ll also want to add an image compression tool to your site. An image optimisation tool will allow you to auto-compress and resize images when you upload them. It will also re-optimise any images you already have 

We use a tool called Imagify.

Watch this quick video on how to resize and optimise your images.

3. Remove Plugins You Don't Need

Another common issue that can slow down your site is having multiple plugins that perform the same function. This can lead to unnecessary script and CSS files loading, significantly impacting your site’s speed. 

I recently did a web audit, and the website had three Google reviews plugins. You only need one.

I’ve also seen sites with three slider plugins and 2 Ecommerce platforms.

If you don’t use the plugin, it’s still loading in scripts and CSS files, even if they are not used or only in one place.

We want to limit the number of files and data being loaded, so doing a plugin audit can help make your website more responsive, secure, and healthy.

If you need clarification on what the plugin is doing, it’s better to speak to your web developer or seek professional help. Turning off plugins means removing features or content on your site. Review your plugins and come up with a plan to remove them one by one. 

An example could be a testimonial plugin; it could easily be replaced by building this feature straight into your site theme. With a tool like Elementor, it’s very easy. 

4. Only load the plugins you need when you need them. 

When you have a plugin on your site, 99% of the time, the files will load where you dont need them to.  For example, let’s say you have a Woocommerce site online store.

However, you are only showing the products in your store. 

The files are still loading on all site pages, whether they’re loading a product or not.

Using a tool like Asset Clean Up Pro, you can turn Woocommerce off on the About page only, meaning those files dont load. 

Resulting in less loading and improving speed.

Here is a short video showing you how Asset Clean Up Pro works.

5. Tracking Scripts

Another factor that can slow down your site is the presence of third-party tracking scripts. While useful for tracking for marketing purposes, these scripts can also add to your site’s load time. 

Common examples of these are

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Tag Manager
  • Facebook Ads Pixel
  • CRM Site Tracking
  • Heatmap Tracking
  • Live Chat Tools

These third parties cannot be cached because they are loading from an external source. Removing unnecessary scripts can help improve your site’s speed.

For example, If you have tested a Live chat tool or heatmap software but don’t look at the report or use them, remove it because their code is still loading.

If you dont do Facebook or Google ads, remove the code and re-install it when you want to run ads again. 

6. Use a CDN

A CDN or Content Delivery Network stores all your files on its servers. When someone visits your site, the browser requests the files and images from their servers rather than yours. 

A CDN reduces the load on your site and boosts the response rate. 

It can also reduce the bandwidth on your server, meaning you can have more people without it slowing down or crashing, especially if you have a site that gets a lot of traffic.

They can cost as little as £3 a month. The traffic to your site will determine how often the CDN is used, so a highly visited site will cost more than a low-visited site. 

Here are a few well know CDN’s

  • Key CDN
  • Bunny CDN 
  • Rocket CDN 
  • Cloudflare

I’ll show you how to set up and add a CDN to your site in this video.

7. Upgrade Your Website Hosting

If you’ve done everything detailed above and are not seeing any big changes in site speed, the issue may be your website hosting.

A lot of the time, cheap web hosting causes many speed problems. 

If you notice that your server’s response time is high on speed tests, this usually indicates poor hosting. 

The cost of cheap hosting

It’s surprising when I speak to businesses that rely heavily on their websites for leads and sales, yet they still opt for shared hosting, which is often the cheapest option.

We’ll happily pay £40 a month for a gym membership, vitamins or sports subscriptions, but we won’t pay more to ensure our website hosting isn’t holding us back.

Good hosting should be considered an expense, not a cost if your website generates business regularly. 

Paying £3 – £7 a month may feel like a bargain, but it may cost you much more in the long run. 

Shared Hosting 

Shared hosting is where your site is hosted on a server with other sites, which could be a few or a thousand. Shared hosting is easier to set up and manage. 

However, because you are sharing the server’s resources across all sites if one of those sites gets a lot of traffic or is hacked, it can negatively impact your site’s speed and security.

A shared hosting plan should be fine if you have a small, simple site and low traffic.

Not all hosting companies are created equally. Some will have better security features, and others can have nice built-in tools for site speed, automated site updates, and backup management.

If you have shared hosting, make sure you can manage daily backups and other security tools like malware scanning and server firewalls. 

Dedicated Servers

A dedicated server is where you have a standalone server that you administrate. You can host your sites on this server. 

The biggest benefit is that it guarantees that all the server’s resources are allocated to your site. You do not share the server resources with other websites on the same server and have more security control. 

You can get a good dedicated server for as little as £40 or manage from £70 monthly. 

Suppose you have a large site with lots of content or advanced features like a shop, membership, or directory. I recommend a Dedicated server.

You can also easily start on a shared and upgrade fairly easily.

How do I know if I need better hosting?

As mentioned earlier, if you see improved server response time, that can indicate that your hosting isn’t good enough.

Look at your Google Analytics. If you’re getting around 500 visits a day, then shared hosting won’t be good enough. Look at the server’s memory and bandwidth settings to see how that averages. 

I appreciate this can be more complicated to figure out; speak to your hosting support or web team. If you need further help, please contact us, and we can help you determine if a hosting upgrade could benefit you.

Check out our Managed WordPress Hosting service if you are considering upgrading your site hosting. It offers a range of managed hosting options, from shared hosting to dedicated servers. If you have any questions about website hosting, please get in touch with us here.

Conclusion

Speed optimisation on smaller sites should be easy, and following the guidance above should help boost your scores. Bigger, more complex sites like ecommerce or membership can be more challenging, but it’s a process of elimination and testing.

If you’ve implemented all of these strategies and are still experiencing speed issues, booking a speed audit with us may be beneficial to unlocking your site speed. 

Our speed audit service involves:

  • A comprehensive review of your site’s speed performance.
  • Identifying areas for improvement.
  • Providing tailored recommendations to boost your site’s loading speed.

BOOK YOUR FREE WEB AUDIT HERE

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