How to Build an Ultra-Fast WordPress Website
Do you own a WordPress website? Do you want it to be faster? Website performance is an important factor that can affect your search results and bottom line. This article will tell you why performance matters and how to build a hyper-fast WordPress website.
Why performance matters
The performance of your website affects two critical areas of your business:
- Your search engine rankings.
- Your earnings.
Page speed has been a Google ranking factor for desktop search since 2010 and for mobile search since 2018.
In 2020 , Google announced that the page experience signals would be introduced in the rankings in 2021:
"The new page experience signals combine Core Web Vitals with our existing search signals, including mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines." (Analogous translation from English)
In addition to the performance signals that become ranking factors in Google's search algorithm, performance also influences visitor behavior and conversions.
In 2017 , Google researched page load speed in relation to bounce rate - the rate at which visitors leave your website without interacting. Google found that with a page load time of:
- 1 to 3 seconds, the bounce rate increases by 32%.
- With 1 to 5 seconds, the bounce rate increases by 90%.
- 1 to 6 seconds, the bounce rate increases by 106%.
- 1 to 10 seconds, the bounce rate increases by 123%.
If visitors leave your website without scrolling, tapping, or clicking, they can't be converted into leads or sales for your business. As a result, a poorly loading website can affect your company's ability to generate revenue.
WordPress is the most widely used content management system.
In 2019 , WordPress announced that it powers a third of all websites on the internet. BuiltWith.com shows that 43% of websites are now using WordPress, with a sample size of over 64 million websites.
In terms of performance, we can compare WordPress websites to those of Joomla and Magento thanks to HTTPArchive.org. Their report " State of the Web " contains the following analysis of websites on which the respective platforms are used.
Over 2 million WordPress websites, 52,000 Magento websites and 133,000 Drupal websites were examined from July 2019 to July 2021. The results are as follows.
- WordPress websites had a mean total page weight of 2,437.7 KB on desktop browsers and 2,275.6 KB on mobile browsers.
- Magento websites had a mean total page size of 3178.8 KB on desktop browsers and 3039.5 KB on mobile browsers.
- Drupal websites had an average total page size of 2192.1 KB on desktop browsers and 2061.6 KB on mobile browsers.
According to Google , the total size of a website should be less than 500 KB. WordPress websites are in the middle when it comes to page size, but still well above the maximum page size recommended by Google.
- WordPress websites had an average total of 85 requests on desktop browsers and 81 requests on mobile browsers.
- Magento websites had an average total of 182 desktop browser requests and 176 mobile browser requests.
- Drupal websites had an average total of 75 requests on desktop browsers and on mobile browsers.
Google recommends a maximum of 50 requests (individual pieces of content) that are required to load a web page. Here, too, WordPress websites are in the middle of the field for page views, but above the recommendation of Google.
What does this information tell us?
To meet Google's website performance goals, your WordPress website needs to be optimized as much as possible.
How to Speed Up a WordPress Website
Choose fast WordPress hosting
In a question and answer session with John Mueller, the Google Search Advocate discusses the difference between shared hosting and dedicated hosting. With regard to hosting, he said the following.
"However, there is one thing to look out for. If too many websites are hosted on a system with limited capacity, the server can become overloaded. This can cause the server and its websites to become very slow . " (analogous translation from English)
He continues, "When a website is hosted on a slow server, your users are dissatisfied and they can be harder to crawl."
Since the performance of your website depends on your server, nextron uses a speed-optimized server stack from GridPane for WordPress hosting. The GridPane WordPress Stack is a custom technology stack trimmed for speed with advanced caching.
In addition to the GridPane Stack, our servers are equipped with NVMe SSD (approx. 40x faster than spinning drives and approx. 8x faster than SATA-SDD drives) and 4.9 GHz AMD processors to ensure that your website outperforms your competitors . This high-performance infrastructure is designed for I / O-intensive data workloads, demanding applications, and high-traffic websites.
Use caching plugins
All self-hosted WordPress websites can benefit from a caching plugin. You create a snapshot of your website that visitors can access on the server instead of loading all the elements of the website each time. This translates into faster loading times and better overall website performance.
Popular free WordPress caching plugins include the following.
- W3 Total Cache: W3 Total Cache (W3TC) improves the SEO and usability of your website by increasing website performance and reducing loading times. It leverages features such as Content Delivery Networks (CDN) integration and the latest best practices, and has a 4.5 out of 5 star rating from over 4,500 users.
- WP Super Cache: This plugin from Automattic generates static HTML files from your dynamic WordPress blog. After an HTML file has been generated, your web server will serve this file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive WordPress PHP scripts. It has a 4.5 out of 5 star rating from 1,100+ users.
- WP Fastest Cache: The free version is enough to speed up your website, but the premium version has additional features like Mobile Cache, Widget Cache, Minify HTML Plus, Minify CSS Plus, Minify JS, Combine JS Plus and more for better loading times. It has a 5 out of 5 star rating from 3,300+ users.
- Simple Cache: Simple Cache was developed after we became frustrated with the large caching plugins available and created websites with complex caching solutions that are only used by developers and receive millions of page views every day. It has a 4.5 out of 5 star rating from 50+ users.
With our WordPress Speed Hosting , the Redis Nginx caching module is already set up on the server side.
What is Redis?
The abbreviation Redis stands for Remote Dictionary Server and is an extremely fast and open-source in-memory key-value data store. Redis was originally developed by Salvatore Sanfilippo and is probably the most widely used in-memory key-value data store.
How does Redis work?
Redis is an in-memory database with a simple data structure and belongs to the NoSQL database family. This simple database structure is therefore less suitable for complex data structures. On the other hand, Redis has the big advantage that it is faster than relational databases like MySQL.
In contrast to other databases that store their data on the hard drive, Redis stores all data in the main memory of the server. There are no delays due to the elimination of access times to the physical data carrier. All data is accessible within microseconds and is more than directly available to the user.
What are the advantages?
Redis now offers response times of less than a millisecond and can therefore accept and process millions of requests for real-time applications in a wide variety of areas. Redis is therefore often used for caching, session management, real-time analysis, chat and messaging services and media streaming.
Optimize your pictures
Do you have photos, screenshots or other graphics on your website?
While they play an important role in marketing your products and content, they can also affect loading speed if not properly optimized.
How big can an image file be?
An unoptimized screenshot with a resolution of 1,213 × 1,642 pixels that was created on an iPhone in PNG format is 3.1 MB (3,100 KB) in size.
An unoptimized photo with a resolution of 4,337 × 2,891 pixels in JPG format is 18.6 MB (18,600 KB).
There are several ways you can reduce the size of your images.
- Choose the right format for your images. Shutterstock recommends JPEG for photos, screenshots, and most other images. PNG works best for images with sharp geometric shapes, curves, and lines. GIF should only be used for animation.
- Choose the right size for your pictures. Adobe recommends a maximum size of 1280 x 720 pixels for HD quality, 3840 x 2160 pixels for 4K quality, and 7680 x 4320 pixels for 8K.
- Compress images. Use image tools like TinyJPG, Tiny PNG, Optimizilla (JPEG and PNG), and Compressor (JPEG, PNG, SVG, GIF and WEBP).
- Remove the white space around the pictures. GTMetrix recommends cropping the white space of images and padding it with CSS instead.
- Provide responsive images. Google web.dev offers advice on how to code appropriately sized images for desktop and mobile screens.
Remove unnecessary plugins
Another area of your WordPress website that can cause performance issues is your plugins.
Plugins cause additional HTTP requests, database requests and security holes on your website.
Take some time to review your current plugins and make sure they are all being used and absolutely necessary.
For example, the plugins you use for caching and search engine optimization are paramount as they improve search performance and visibility. The plugin that imports your latest tweets can help you grow your Twitter fan base, but it can increase your page load time.
There's no magic number when it comes to how many plugins you should or can have. What matters is the quality of the plugins.
When browsing the plugins in the WordPress plugin library which has over 58,000 free plugins, you should check out the following stats.
- Who developed the plugin? Is the manufacturer known for creating reliable tools for WordPress?
- When was the plugin last updated? If a plugin is out of date, it can pose security risks.
- Has the plugin been tested with your version (the latest version) of WordPress? If the plugin is not fully compatible with your version of WordPress, it can cause performance and loading issues for your website visitors.
- What do the ratings and reviews say? If there are serious performance issues or risks related to the plugin, other users may mention them.
- Does the plugin author offer support in the forums? Each plugin in the WordPress library has its own support forum. On the plugin page you can see the number of support requests that have been resolved in the past few months. You can also browse the latest posts to see if the plugin developers respond to support requests.
While there are plenty of free plugins out there, the main benefit of a paid plugin (aside from additional features) is that it usually includes regular updates and priority support.
To keep both your website visitors and the search engines happy, you need to optimize your WordPress website for speed and performance. Learn more about how our fast WordPress hosting can improve your WordPress performance.
We are also happy to be at your disposal for web design in Basel or for the whole of Switzerland and let our experience in the area of speed optimization flow into it.