Why WordPress Site Speed Matters for SEO and Increased Traffic

Last Updated on April 23, 2020 by Sunny Staff

Why WordPress Site Speed Matters

WordPress is a great platform but can be quite slow for several reasons.  A slow site is not only a hassle for repeat visitors but will cause you to lose subscribers and customers.  By taking the proper precautions, you can speed up your WordPress site and get business moving fast.

You only have a few seconds to capture a visitors attention to convince them to stay on your site. According to a report by the Microsoft Bing search team, a 2-second longer delay in page responsiveness reduced user satisfaction by 3.8%, increased lost revenue per user by 4.3%, and reduced clicks by 4.3%.

If your site takes too long to load, most people are gone, lost before you even had a chance.

Google now includes site speed in it’s ranking algorithm. That means that your site’s speed effects SEO, so if your site is slow, you’re now losing visitors and reduced rankings in search engines.

The Number One Way to Speed Up WordPress: A Good Host

A shared host might seem like a bargain with “unlimited page views” and all those other great-looking hooks. The hidden cost you pay is incredibly slow site speed and frequent downtime during high traffic periods.

You are killing your business by running your WordPress site on shared hosting. The stress of your site going down after getting a big feature upgrade is enough to create a few gray hairs: don’t be a victim, invest in proper hosting.

Enter Sunny HQ.  Sunny HQ utilizes the best hosting data centers coupled with enterprise-level services to provide blazing fast WordPress site speed.  We have combined these under one brand to make the best WordPress full service hosting available.

We are so sure that you will love Sunny HQ, that we’ll migrate your site for FREE just to show you how much better it runs in our environment.  Also, all of our subscriptions are entirely risk-free for 60 days.  If you don’t like Sunny HQ for any reason, just tell us, and we will help put your site back where it was – FREE.  Check out our plans.

If you want to do it yourself…

You can host and run your own site, but make sure to read further to make sure you handle everything needed for your WordPress site.  One word of warning,  you will find yourself spending tons of time and resources to do something that you should be outsourcing.

Start with a solid framework/theme

The Twenty Fifteen “framework” (aka the default WP theme) is lightweight and quite speedy.  It is essential to use a premium theme.  While premium themes aren’t free, they are kept up to date regularly and significantly outperform free themes.

Use an effective caching plugin

Caching drastically improves page loads time, and best of all, many of the best caching plugins on WordPress.org are free and easy to use.

Use a content delivery network (CDN)

All of your favorite big blogs are making use of CDN’s, and if you are into online marketing using WordPress, you won’t be surprised to hear that some of your favorite blogs like Copyblogger are making use of CDN’s.

Essentially, a CDN, or content delivery network, takes all your static files you’ve got on your site (CSS, Javascript and images etc) and lets visitors download them as fast as possible by serving the files on servers as close to them as possible.

Use CloudFlare

To put it bluntly, CloudFlare, along with a caching plugin are a potent combination (they integrate with each other) that will greatly improve not only the speed, but the security of your site.

Optimize images (automatically)

Yahoo! has an image optimizer called Smush.it that will drastically reduce the file size of an image, while not reducing quality. There is also a fantastic, free plugin called WP-SmushIt which will do this process to all of your images automatically, as you are uploading them.

Optimize your homepage to load quickly

There are a few easy things you can do to ensure that your homepage loads quickly.

  • Remove unnecessary sharing widgets from the home page (include them only in posts).
  • Show excerpts instead of full posts.
  • Keep it minimal! Readers are here for content, not 8,000 widgets on the homepage.
  • Remove inactive plugins and widgets that you don’t need.
Overall, a clean and focused homepage design will help your page not only look good, but load quicker as well.

Optimize your WordPress database

Optimization can be done manually or you can use the WP-Optimize plugin. This plugin lets you optimize your database (spam, post revisions, drafts, tables, etc.) to reduce their overhead.

Disable hotlinking and leeching of your content

Hotlinking is a form of bandwidth “theft.” It occurs when other sites direct link to the images on your site from their articles, increasing the load on your server. This can add up as more and more people “scrape” your posts. As your site and especially images become more popular, disabling hotlinking is a “must do” if you create custom images for your site regularly.

Add an expires header to static resources

An Expires header is a way to specify a time far enough in the future so that the clients (browsers) don’t have to re-fetch any static content. This way can cut your load time significantly for your regular users.

Head here for some great examples.

Adjust Gravatar images

Set the default Gravatar image to nothing.  It will improve page loads by having nothing where there would typically be an unneeded Gravatar logo.

Add LazyLoad to your images

LazyLoad is the process of having only the images above the fold load until a user scrolls down. This will not only speed up your page load, but it can also save bandwidth.

To do this automatically, install the jQuery Image Lazy Load plugin.

Control the number of post revisions stored

WordPress, by default, saves an unlimited number of drafts, every time you work on a post. Use the Revision Control plugin to make sure you keep post revisions to a minimum, set it to 2 or 3 so you have something to fall back on in case you make a mistake, but not too high that you clutter your backend with unnecessary amounts of drafted posts.

Turn off pingbacks and trackbacks

By default, WordPress interacts with other blogs that are equipped with pingbacks and trackbacks. For more detail, read this explanation of WordPress Pingbacks, Trackbacks and Linkbacks.

WordPress Site Speed – Conclusion

Well, it’s obvious by now that it can be a lot of work to keep your site humming along at top speed. If you’d like to find out more about WordPress, take a look at our other posts. If you need help or would like to talk to us about how we can take the stress out of managing your website, just drop us a line!


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