Hint: all of them are free and most take less than 5 minute to apply
Google PageSpeed insights results page
We are not going to give you a lengthy explanation about the importance of your website's speed, because we value your time. If you are not sure how important it is, let's just put it this way: do you care about your website's ability to get more traffic and convert it into leads or sales? Are you interested in your website's ranking on Google? Do you have empathy for your users and customers and value their time?
If your answer to any of these questions is a resounding YES – we've got a treat for you. We have teamed up with Ziv Raviv from Booster Monster to help us understand the top 8 ways of improving site speed. Let's dive right in!
A CDN, or Content Delivery Network, is the service responsible for delivering webpages and other web content to your user. It consists of a grid of local servers, which all hold a copy of the "heavy" content of your website – images, static files, etc. When a user navigates to your site, the CDN data center which is closest to the user serves them the website's content.
Which CDN should you use, then? We recommend starting with Cloudflare, simply because their service is reliable, easy to configure, and has a free basic plan that supports SSL.
Some tips from our experts: "Using Cloudflare's CDN also helps with migrating your website to
a faster host, plus, there is no down time. Replacing your host with a faster one is something you should always consider. But do remember this: if you are making significant changes in your website, purge the files or pause the service while your team is in there. If the changes are only textual, you will be fine as is."
2. Caching plugins
This is probably the most well-known tactic in optimizing websites for speed. While there are awesome free caching plugins available, like WP Total Cache or WP Super Cache, you might want to consider paying for a premium version, in the case that your website is trying to reach a higher ranking or has a well-defined sales/marketing funnel in place.
A word of caution: "Some features of the cache plugin bring minimal improvement in terms of load time and have the potential to mess with other plugins installed on your Wordpress website. Bear that in mind and always test to see how they affect your website.
For measuring site speed, Booster Monster mostly uses Pingdom, and occasionally also GTMetrix. Just make sure you test your website from a location which is nearest to your host."
The configuration of the cache plugin might seem intimidating – but simply test your website's functionality to make sure everything's in place. If nothing has changed and Pingdom shows that your speed has increased – well done you!
3. Expires headers
If you have more than 10% returning visitors (which you can verify with Google Analytics), you should consider using .htaccess to configure your expires headers. It isn't much fun doing it manually, but luckily there are plugins that can do it for you.
Watch a simple demo here:
Or use this plugin as a shortcut:
Just remember this one can create a conflict with WP Rocket caching plugin (but if you have that premium plugin, you are good to go).
4. Compress your website with gzip
If you only take one thing away from this article today, it should be the CDN tip. But if you want something fast and solid that will improve your site speed significantly – that would be enabling gzip compression.
This clip shows how to edit the .htacces file. Please be careful and backup the file before you change it. You can do that by using the websites cpanel file manager or via FTP.
5. Minify your CSS and JS files
Basically, minification means getting rid of comments and spaces (or directives in the code that are never used), in order to make your code lighter in size. This principle is valid in general: if your website is less then 1mb in size, it has a better chance of loading fast. There are many plugins that help with minification, and some caching plugins also support it tremendously well.
Why not consider the plugin that we mostly use on our websites? To try it, go to https://wordpress.org/plugins/bwp-minify/
6. Use CSS Sprites
Perhaps the most difficult tip to apply from this list will be using CSS Sprites. This usually requires the help of a developer and mostly helps websites with logs of graphics. CSS Sprites helps create one big image from all your small images and icons and then teaches your webite how to find each specific image insider the larger image.
We can't emphasize enough how many http requests this technique saves. So if you want your website to load fast like a boss, order your guy or hire one at http://www.upwork.com.
7. Use mod_pagespeed
Google's mod_pagespeed module is actually not a feature of your website but rather a feature of your host. We strongly recommend you consider activating it and testing to see if it fits your website's needs.
On SiteGround, where Booster Monster is currently hosted (on one of their manually tweaked VPS servers) you can configure the module on the cpanel, under the SuperCacher option:
8. Remove all external JS/CSS
This tip is mentioned a lot by Google Page Speed Insights and is discussed through out the web in details. So instead of getting into the bits and bytes of it, we will just put this here for you to consider:
What else can we do to improve speed, and can we get someone else to do it for us?
Ziv told us that Booster Monster helps business owners get better results from their websites by doing only one thing – boosting the site's speed. When it boosts your website, it also takes care to optimize your images, edit your .htaccess for you, configure your plugins for better performance and tackle any obstacle or bottleneck in your website in order to make sure that it loads as fast as it can.
Have fun speeding up your website! Your customers will surely appreciate it.