Website Optimization – The Need for Speed

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Looking to make a great first impression with your site’s visitors? Improve your speed. That’s right – speed makes a difference on how visitors perceive your site’s value. A slow website can actually ruin your reputation.

In fact, 47% of visitors expect your website to load within 2 seconds. And, if your website takes 3 seconds to load, 40% of visitors will hit the back button.

If that doesn’t scare you into improving your website’s loading time, this should: speed affects your page rank. Speed is part of Google’s ranking algorithm. To have a prayer of reaching page one for your keyword search in Google, you’ll need to beef up your speed.

Fortunately, it’s easy to boost your load times with WordPress. Let’s take a look at the top ways to speed up your WordPress website.

Check Your Speed
Before you begin reducing your load times, check your speed. There’s two sites that offer initial speed tests: Pingdom.com and Web Page Test. Complete the test before and again after making these adjustments.

Make Sure You’re Up to Date
It seems like every other day, WordPress is asking for you to update– but it’s worth it to click the update button. Remember, the call to update is not there to annoy you– it’s there to improve your site. WordPress has an active community of members who work hard to make sure that your current version of WordPress is optimized. Not only will it improve your speed, updating will enhance your site’s security and stability.

Be sure to backup your site prior to updating.

Use a Cache
There’s at least one plugin that you want to run, and that’s a caching plugin. A cache plugin basically takes a picture of your website and stores it for quicker loading. There’s several cache programs to choose from, but here’s a couple of the most popular: W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache.

One thing to keep in mind is that some hosts may not allow the use of this type of plugin. Be sure to check with your host, optimally before signing up for a hosting account, on their policies for caching.

Load Only What’s Visible
Part of the reason your WordPress site may be loading slowly is because it’s loading all the images on your site. If you’re site is photo-heavy, there’s a plugin that can help. Meet Lazy Load, a plugin that only loads images as they become viewable on this screen. This plugin severely reduces loading demands, and can also decrease your bandwidth.

Don’t Get Carried Away With Plugins or Widgets
Although plugins and widgets are part of what makes WordPress so great, it’s easy to use too many. Having all of those extra components can decrease load times, and cause visitors to abandon before they even see how great your website is. Avoid this by getting rid of all plugins and widgets that do not directly improve user experience. (Hint: speed is also part of user experience.)

Choose a Quality Theme
There’s a lot of beautiful WordPress themes available, but don’t sacrifice speed for beauty. Here on Gridgum, we offer WordPress themes that are both beautiful and speedy. Check out themes like BizNex orinCorp for lightning fast load times.

Final Words
For whichever theme you choose, be sure to limit excess. The secret to speed is found in simplifying your theme.

Did you implement any of these tips? And did you check out your site speed before and after? Let us know in the comments below!

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