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Five Ways to Increase Your Site Speed

Devesh Sharma

When it comes to increasing engagement or generating more leads and sales, website speed plays a very important role. Yet, so many e-commerce sites and blogs simply ignore it.

Internet marketing firm Portent put together a test, five months ago, where they tested data from 16 e-commerce sites. From there, they tested 500 e-commerce sites, which showed pages that took less than one second to load generated the most revenue.

This is just one of many countless studies available on the Internet. People simply don't want to wait. So, if you want to increase revenue and don't want to end up getting penalizing by some Google penalty, then you should invest some time in improving your site speed.

Today, I am going to share five basic, yet effective, tips to help you increase your site speed.

Hosting Matters

Despite what some people say, web hosting matters. And it matters a lot.

If your hosting is subpar, no other fix can improve your site speed. There are a dozen of hosting companies on the Internet that promise to provide high-quality hosting, but only a handful them actually do.

Companies like BlueHost and SiteGround provide quality WordPress hosting at very reasonable prices.

Use a CDN Solution

A CDN is a group of networked services deployed in multiple data centers across the Internet. The goal of a Content Delivery Network is to store your site files (such as images and JavaScript) so when a user from Ireland visits your site, for instance, they get the content from the closest server to them in that network geographically. It is a very clever and effective concept. It also helps reduce the bandwidth usage.

If you are running a WordPress site, then setting up CDN is an easy job. There are many top CDN solutions available on the Internet, but here are two of the most popular ones:

  • MaxCDN - This CDN is the industry standard when it comes to WordPress CDN services. MaxCDN is a paid solution, priced at $90 a year for a basic plan.
  • CloudFare - Similar to MaxCDN,it also offers a free plan which is limited to 100MB.

Cache Plugin

Installing a caching plugin is the most quick and effective way to speed up your site. You can choose from W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache or WP Rocket.

In my opinion, WP Rocket is easier to use as it only provides essential features to users and does everything else via back end, while W3 Total Cache delivers more advanced options. (Though you should know WP Rocket is a commercial plugin and costs $34 for a single site.)

These plugins can easily be connected to MaxCDN or any other content delivery network, for that matter. From my own research, I would suggest you go with WP Rocket and MaxCDN.

Optimize Your Images

If you have spent some time in the blogosphere, you know the importance of using visual graphics such as stock images, infographics and slides. In case you haven't, you should know content with relevant images get more views than content without them.

Now at the same time, you have to make sure your site loads properly and doesn't take more than three seconds. To do so, you need to install these two plugins:

  • WP Smush.it - The plugin works by reducing image file sizes and improving performance using the Smush.it API within WordPress. It also strips the metadata from JPEGs, and removes unused colors from indexed images.
  • BJ Lazy Load - This plugin replaces all the images with a placeholder, and only loads the image when a visitor tries to view a page on your website.

If you don't want to use a plugin, you can also use an offline application like Shrink-O-Matic.

Note: If you are using the WP Rocket plugin, you don't need to install the BJ Lazy Load plugin.

Use a Premium WordPress Theme

This one goes without saying, but you should never download themes from unknown or illegal sources (yes, I mean torrent and "warez" sites). I always advise people against using free themes, as most of those themes are badly coded and may have malicious code included in them.

You can easily get a well-coded theme for $50-100 from sites like Elegant Themes or StudioPress. Here are few things to look for when purchasing a premium theme:

  • Responsive Design - The more responsive your site is, the better traffic you will receive. It is also directly correlated with how Google ranks a website.
  • Regular Updates - Most theme companies do provide regular updates, but you should check to see if the author has been providing regular updates or not (just to be on safe side).
  • Customer Reviews - There are dozens of WordPress-related blogs that do un-paid reviews of premium themes, so you should also check them out.

Final Thoughts

The five simple tips described above will speed up your site considerably. A bonus for non-developers? None of them require any coding or hosting knowledge.

Lastly, test your site speed before and after implementing these tips to see how effective they really were. Any other suggestions to help increase your site speed?

Image credit: Portent

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Devesh Sharma is a WordPress enthusiast and founder of WPKube.com, a WP resource site which focuses on themes, plugins, tutorials, and modifications. He also blogs at Zippy Magazine.
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