You have read countless blog posts about improving the loading speed of a site. Could this article be different from others? Does this article feature a silver bullet plugin that works miracles?
These are legit questions for anyone landing on this page, wondering if this article deserves his or her attention. We put a lot of thought into creating a compelling article; it’s our unique perspective on speed improvement. Sadly, we haven’t found a solution for speeding up your site in no time. Making a site load fast requires time; it’s a trial-and-error process.
We’ve noticed that the majority of guides start directly with tips and tools for speed improvement. This is not bad at all, but users have no feedback regarding this process. Hence, we believe that the first step for making a site load faster is a complete evaluation of the current performance.
How to Test the Loading Speed
Before tweaking code, installing plugins, optimizing images, and caching files, you have to benchmark the current site speed. Google has the biggest search market share by a large margin, so you’d better use Google tools for site performance.
Start with Test My Site, a Google tool, to benchmark your site. It will compare your site against competitors, and the final report includes the site rank, comparisons with competitors, and suggestions for improvement. It’s not a complete tool, but it’s a good starting point.
Any serious site must be mobile-friendly, but you’d better double-check your site’s mobile-friendliness. It takes around 30 seconds to test your site by using Mobile-friendly Test by Google. Your site should be mobile-friendly in order to be worthwhile.
Website Grader by HubSpot is another tool to make a first impression about the current performance of a site. It’s not a comprehensive tool, but you will spend less than 30 seconds to get that information.
Tools and Performance Indicators
Even though it takes time to learn about each testing tool and the performance indicators, you have to do it. It’s good to use tools measuring the site’s performance, but it’s vital for a professional to understand the mechanism behind them. In this way, you will fully understand the suggestions for speeding up your site.
Here we will feature the most important testing tools and their recommendations.
This is probably the most frequently used tool for checking a site’s performance. It’s no wonder because it provides in-depth information about a site’s current performance and plenty of improvement tips.
Type the address of your site into the form, and hit the Analysis button. Your site will get a grade for mobile and desktop versions; any grade below 49 means that the site speed is unacceptably low. Besides the grades, Page Speed Insights provides useful suggestions to improve site performance, such as:
- Optimize images;
- Remove unused CSS;
- Eliminate render-blocking resources.
Site admins know these by heart, and most of them have tried for many hours to tweak the code and use plugins to get into the good graces of Google and other search engines.
Check each suggestion, and do everything possible to improve your site. When I say “everything possible,” I mean everything possible! Page Speed Insights is made by Google for Google, so there is no better tool than that!
Even though it’s not a Google tool, GTmetrix is an irreplaceable tool for WordPress users who want to dramatically improve their sites. The premium accounts get more value from GTmetrix, but even the free accounts are enough for accessing precious data. Start with analyzing the site, understand the reports, and set up alerts.
You decide the location of the testing server (seven locations across the globe), the browser used (Chrome, Firefox, or Chrome on Android devices) and the type of the Internet connection. Next, GTmetrix provides Performances Scores and Page Details – two categories of data about the site analyzed.
Performances Scores consists of PageSpeed Score and YSlow Score – two rankings providing a strategic overview of the site performance. Page Details delivers concrete data about your site – the loading time, total page size, and the number of requests.
Finally, you will be amazed by the number and details of the GTmetrix suggestions. The bad news is that you should fix all these issues. It takes time, but it’s necessary!
Pingdom is another tool aimed at helping people making faster sites. Test your site and you will find out the performance grade, page size, loading time, and the number of requests. Just like GTmetrix, Pingdom offers golden suggestions for making the site load faster.
Additionally, use the Pingdom app for uptime monitoring. It’s also simple to use, and it notifies you when your site is down.
Tips for Speed Improvement
The above tools are more than enough for making your site load fast. Read each suggestion and act consequently. Sometimes, a plugin does the work for you, while in some instances you need to tweak the code. However, there are a couple of tips that are beyond the reach of these tools. Bear in mind our recommendations.
- Avoid cheap hosts. A good host costs and surely affects your budget. However, in the long run, it’s a real bargain to invest in good hosting. If you don’t want to read countless hosting reviews, you may go for one of the WordPress.org suggestions (no affiliate link here).
- Use a single tool at once. Armies of developers and WordPress users have used the above tools and were satisfied with them. However, focus on a single tool during a campaign for speed improvement. Some indicators have slightly different definitions for each tool and they drive to different results. The variations are small, but don’t forget that the devil is in the details.
- Avoid overlapping plugins and incompatibilities. Practically, it’s impossible to make your site work faster without using a plugin. However, don’t install plugins for the sake of speed improvement. Each newly installed plugin affects the loading speed, so avoid plugins that overlap their features. What’s more, overlapping might conduct to conflicts and, worst-case scenario, your site might go down.
- Optimize images. It’s a common suggestion of any tool, but I emphasize its capital role. Most likely, you constantly add images to your new blog posts. If you don’t optimize the images, though, these will burden the site with their file size and the result is simple – a slow loading site!
- Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN). You did everything possible from your end, but you still aren’t satisfied with the result? CDNs are a solution in this instance. You have to pay for quality results, but there are a few surprisingly good alternatives.
- Speed improvement is a marathon. Don’t expect that once your site gets a good ranking you’ve accomplished speed improvement. Each new blog post, plugin, and design tweaking will impact the site loading speed. Therefore, schedule a speed improvement session periodically.
The main conclusion is that speed improvement takes time and resources. On top of that, it’s a never-ending process. Luckily, there are many tools to help webmasters in this respect.
If you use any of our theme versions, you are lucky! We know how important speed is, and we tried to make our theme as fast as possible. Please let us know your experience with it. Is it as fast as you expected?