Forget about minutes how many seconds you wait for a site to load while performing a search on Google?
Maybe ten seconds or if you are in a hurry maybe five seconds, right?
Do you think a visitor visiting your site will wait any longer? Of course not!
It is frustrating to wait for minutes for the web page to load thanks to the faster internet connections and our ever-decreasing patience.
Did you know if your site loads in 5 seconds then you are approximately only 25% faster of the web?
Because let’s face it.
No one really cares about optimizing the page load speed of their website.
Everyone is caught up in creating the best piece of content on the web and focusing on building high authority backlinks but their fundamentals are wrong or they might don’t know how to optimize site speed the right way.
How about I show you 17 power packed ways to improve your site speed?
If implemented correctly it is sure to increase your site speed.
Would you be interested in learning what very few are doing?
NOTE: Take a cup of hot coffee before you start reading as this is a massive guide that covers the in and out of mastering how to improve website’s page load speed.
So without wasting any further time let’s jump right into it. Shall we?
What You Will Learn
- Page Speed: Why Is It Even Important?
- How to Test Website Loading Speed?
- How Fast Is Really Fast?
- 17 Ways To Optimize Website Speed & Reduce Page Load Time
- 1. Use A Content Delivery Network (CDN) For Improving Website Loading Speed
- 2. Compress Your Images : Load Web
- 3. Minify Your CSS & JS Files: Improve Blog Performance to Next Level
- 4. Enable Website Caching & Optimize Cache Performace
- 7. Reduce Redirects
- 8. Remove Less Used Plugins
- 9. Use A Fast Web Hosting Service To Save Site Speed Optimization Cost
- 10. Clean Up Your Database : Unknown Site Optimization Technique
- 11. Minimize HTTP Requests To Improve Site Performance
- 12. Avoid Excessive Use of Ads
- 13. Prioritize Lazy Loading
- 14. Optimize CSS Delivery
- 15. Run A Compression Audit
- 16. Choose A Better Theme To Optimize Website Speed in Quick Time
- 17. Reduce Time to First Byte
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Improving page speed has several benefits of boosting your online business effectively. Here are some of them:
1Better SERP Rankings
User experience is a direct ranking factor in Google. In fact, it is one of the top three ranking factors as reported by SEJ.
Once your site starts to rank in the top 10 spots for a particular keyword user experience plays a significant role in moving up the rankings more than anything.
If you are interested in learning how to drastically improve your website’s user experience check out this brillant article from Hubspot.
Did you know Amazon.com lost 1.6 billion USD in sales because the website was loading 1-second slower than the usual time?
Moreover, sites that load in 5 seconds see 70% longer average sessions as reported by Unbounce.
Did you notice a pattern here?
If your site loads slower than your competitors’ chances are you might not only lose your valuable readers but also miss out on higher conversions and rankings.
3Retain Traffic For More Time
Research from MachMetrics shows that 53% of people will leave a mobile page if the site takes more than 3 seconds to load.
However, an average mobile landing page takes around 22 seconds to fully load which means if you are not working on increasing your page speed for mobile site visitors will hardly wait for your website to load.
For this article, I am taking Pingdom as an example.
Once you are on the Pingdom website, in the URL section paste your site URL and select the server. Finally, click on the green “Start Test” button and allow the site a couple of minutes to run the test.
As you can see from the screenshot our site loads in 556 ms (which is really fast) with only 27 requests.
You can also scroll down to see a detailed explanation on improving your page performance provided by Pingdom.
Similarly, you can use GTMetrix to calculate your site loading speed.
While optimizing your site for better load times, you should aim for a site that loads in under 1 second.
However, a site that loads in 3 seconds is decent enough.
If it’s 7-8 seconds, you can and should improve the optimization. But if your site takes over 10 seconds to load there is something wrong with your site, in that case, hire a developer and get it optimized.
Here are 17 practical tips for you to reduce page load time and get higher rankings in search results. Let’s dive right in!
1. Use A Content Delivery Network (CDN) For Improving Website Loading Speed
Investing in a CDN is the best decision you can make for improving your website speed. There are several reasons as to why you should invest your money in a CDN.
- Reduces the number of server requests
- Hosts your images and site files all across the world on various servers
- Saves you from DDoS attacks
For instance, if someone is visiting your site from Canada, now if you have a CDN installed on your website all the files and images will be downloaded from the server that is nearest to Canada. That way visitors can download the site content faster which results in better loading speeds.
However, if you don’t have a CDN service on your website, in that case, they will have to wait for a more extended period to download all the site files as there are no other servers from where they can download the files.
Talking about the best CDN services, if you are looking for a free CDN Cloudflare is by far the best and can work wonders for you. Nonetheless, if you are in search for a paid CDN, you can definitely try out KeyCDN or MaxCDN.
We have been using the free version of Cloudflare on some of our sites and premium version of KeyCDN on our main sites.
Check out the screenshot for a quick overview of Cloudflare dashboard.
2. Compress Your Images : Load Web
Images eat up a lot of your site memory and make it slow. However, if you are using WordPress, you can use an image optimization plugin to save you from the mess.
We are using ShortPixel for all our image optimization needs and we highly recommend it to all our readers.
So as you can see we are currently using the premium version of the plugin.
They do offer a free version in which you can optimize 100 images/month. Directly search for Shortpixel and install the plugin on your site.
Once installed, go to its Settings and choose the same settings as shown in the below image.
Finally, go to Media -> Bulk Shortpixel.
In here, click on the “Restart Optimizing” button and allow the tool some time to optimize your images.
Here’s the proof on some of the images that were optimized using the Shortpixel premium WordPress plugin. As you can see, images are reduced in size up to 70% in some cases.
If you want to try out any other image optimization plugins, you can try WP Smush, EWWW or TinyPNG.
3. Minify Your CSS & JS Files: Improve Blog Performance to Next Level
Depending on the number of CSS and JS files your site consists, the higher the number of requests it will send to the server.
To reduce the number of requests we need to either minify the code file or combine them and make it one master file.
Well to make you understand in simple words, minifying a file has to do with the extra bit of code the file has which includes unnecessary code, white space, formatting, etc.
All the extra bit of code adds to the size of the files, so it is recommended to remove all that if not needed and keep the file as minified as possible.
However, doing this manually can be time-consuming and also painful. To solve the problem, you can use an online tool like Minifier.org. All you need to do is copy paste your CSS or JS code or the file URL in the editor and click on the “Minify” button.
If you are on WordPress, you can make use of the caching plugins like WP Rocket or LS Cache to minify all your CSS and JS files.
In LS Cache you have to go to “Optimize” and turn on the CSS & JS Minify option. However, be sure to have a backup of all the files to remain on a safer side.
4. Enable Website Caching & Optimize Cache Performace
Minifying CSS & JS files, compressing images, using a CDN service are sure to increase your website load speed. However, we are here to make your site load super fast and for that, we need to implement more of the advanced optimization strategies.
Here we will implement website caching to make your site load faster than ever.
For instance, a user visits your website; all the files, and images of the visited page will be stored in cache or temporary storage. Now, when the same users revisit your site this time the browser can load the page faster without sending a new request to the server.
When you apply this similar concept on your site for all the readers that visit your site frequently for them the site will load fast.
As I mentioned above, in WordPress you have plugins to perform almost anything. For enabling website caching, you can use plugins like LS cache or W3 Total Cache.
For this example, we are using LS Cache. After you install the plugin go to the plugin settings. You’ll see something like this.
For advanced caching options you can click on the “Cache” tab.
Most of the settings are enabled by default, so I recommend you do not change anything unless you know what you are changing.
When you want to purge all the stored cache from the server click on the diamond icon located on the top of your WordPress site.
You’ll see a notification like “Notified LiteSpeed Web Server to purge all LSCache entries.”
If you have a custom coded site where you want to enable caching here’s what you need to do.
Copy & paste the exact code in the .htaccess file.
## EXPIRES CACHING ##
ExpiresByType image/jpg “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/png “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType text/css “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType text/html “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/pdf “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access 1 year”
ExpiresDefault “access 1 month”
## EXPIRES CACHING ##
Here you can also set different time limits depending on your requirements. For instance, if you would like to increase the expiration time of HTML code from 1 month to 1-year change the “ExpiresByType text/html” to
ExpiresByType text/html “access 1 year”
7. Reduce Redirects
We all delete and restructure our site content periodically which results in broken pages and to fix that we use 301 redirects. To a certain level, it’s okay to have 301 redirects; however, be aware that your site sends a new HTTP request whenever it finds a 301 redirect.
The following practice can affect your site speed, especially on mobile devices. Nonetheless, you can always run a site audit and prepare a plan to get rid of the redirects and broken links forever.
To do so, you need a tool like Screaming Frog or Website Auditor for running a quick site audit.
In Screaming Frog, I tried the experiment with Forbes.com and I was blown away by the number of 301 redirects the site has. And guess what? The tool only finished 10% of Forbes site and there are already more than twenty plus 301 redirects.
It’s always recommended to have fewer redirects, however, if the redirects are relevant, is is still okay. With Screaming Frog you can also find redirect chains and by using the .htaccess file you can point all the redirects to the most recent version of the page.
8. Remove Less Used Plugins
Getting a plugin for doing the simplest task in WordPress is easy. You have plugins for creating contact forms, email opt-in forms, building responsive landing pages all that without knowing a single line of code.
However, at times, due to this availability of plugins, we start to use a lot of plugins which in turn eats up the server resources and increases the load time of a website.
On our site, we currently have 22 plugins installed which are okay as we are using all of them.
But I’d advise you to carefully check all the plugins and see what all are the plugins that you don’t use and are sitting their ideally doing nothing. Moreover, at times we also install plugins which more or less does the same job.
I have made the same mistake in the past by installing two plugins for the landing page which has identical features.
One last tip I have for you is before you install any plugin make sure to check whether or not the plugin is compatible with the current version of WordPress or not. There plugins are untested and not compatible with the current version of WordPress (stay away from those plugins).
9. Use A Fast Web Hosting Service To Save Site Speed Optimization Cost
I have seen that the majority of webmasters opt for the cheapest solution possible when it comes to web hosting.
If you are starting out and have budget constraints you can go with the cheap hosting solution in the beginning. However, once your sites start to get more traffic you need to upgrade your web hosting to keep it up and running.
While selecting your web host, you have several options to choose from:
- Shared hosting
- VPS hosting
- Managed hosting
- Dedicated hosting
There are hundreds of web hosting companies so always do your due diligence and some research before making a purchase decision. Out of all the available hosting companies these are the top ones.
- Digital Ocean or Vultr
- WPX Hosting
- WP Engine
For all those who are confused in selecting one of the many available options you can take the help of a tool like Pickuphost, the site has a database of all the popular hosting companies and it shows you the speed test depending upon the hosting company and the server location you choose.
For experimental purpose, I tried checking speeds for Bluehost and Siteground and the results were shocking. I kept the server location as the USA.
To sum it up, if you are a beginner who is just starting their online journey, you can go with shared hosting initially. Once your website starts to receive traffic move to the VPS hosting plan.
10. Clean Up Your Database : Unknown Site Optimization Technique
You can say your site database is everything from start to end that you see on your site. Although, applying the nine techniques shown above will drastically improve your site speed but there’s always a scope to improve even more.
The other fantastic way to optimize up your site is to clean up the MySQL database.
Now before I talk any further let’s have a brief overview of what exactly is MySQL database tables?
Simply put, MySQL database tables are the building blocks of your site. Everything starting from website categories, images, videos, posts is stored in different tables under one database that WordPress creates automatically in the backend.
Check out this complicated image of MySQL database of our site:
As you site gets older you database will start to preserve some junk data in it like the pingbacks, spam comments, post revisions – all these increases the size of your database and eventually affect the site performance.
However, for all the non-techies out there you have a great option to “Optimize Tables” command in the “With Selected” drop-down menu.
The following settings can be found in the “phpMyAdmin” tool under “Database” section in your CPanel.
Okay, so for anyone who doesn’t want to get this technical you always have an option to install a relevant plugin and get the job done.
You can use the WP-Sweep plugin which performs the same task but directly within the WordPress dashboard. After you install and activate the plugin, head over to the “Tools” and in there you would see a “Sweep” option.
Once you click on it, you’ll see all the junk data stored in your database in individual tables. You can either individually click on Sweep if you want to clear a specific database or you can perform the action for all the tables by clicking on the “Sweep All” button.
11. Minimize HTTP Requests To Improve Site Performance
Most of the page loading time goes in downloading the content of the page. The server makes multiple HTTP requests depending upon the type of content you have on the page.
Let’s suppose your page only has text content written, in that case, the number of HTTP request would be less compared to a page that has images, videos and text content on it.
Your target should always be to minimize the number of HTTP requests to make your site load faster.
If you are using the Chrome Browser, you can use the Developer tool to get an understanding of the number of requests your site currently makes.
To do that, right-click in your Chrome browser and click on “Inspect.” After that go to the Network tab and hit Ctrl+R (Windows) or Command+R (Mac) and the system will start to track the number of requests.
I quickly went ahead and tried the same on one of the biggest sites on the Internet – Salesforce and this is what I got to see.
There are over 135+ requests and the page load time is 8 seconds. I guess they can improve it by implementing proper optimization strategies.
You can do the same for your site and see how many requests you have and if it is more figure out how you can reduce them.
12. Avoid Excessive Use of Ads
No doubt earning money through advertisement is one of the fastest and the easiest way to make money online.
If you notice we here at BloggingLabs don’t use advertisements to monetize our blog. There are multiple reasons for the same.
First, it annoys our readers and we don’t want to do that at any cost. Secondly, ads are loaded in the backend from other servers which takes extra time for our site to load completely. Thirdly, we feel making money through affiliate marketing is more stable and scalable business model.
The more ads you use on a page the longer it will take for that page to load. However, that doesn’t mean monetizing through advertisements is a lousy business model. But, we recommend you to not flood your website visitors with a lot of ads.
On the flip side, if you use affiliate marketing to earn money from your blog, with the right audience, you can make far more money than Adsense and also you won’t have the ads to slow down your site by any means.
13. Prioritize Lazy Loading
Not all users who visit your site read till the end. However, when they open the page, your server tries to load up the entire page which takes extra time in loading.
But what if you can reduce the page load times with the help of lazy loading?
Before that let’s understand what exactly is lazy loading.
Lazy loading has everything to do with the images on your page. For example, while I visit your site and if the site has lazy load enabled the page will not load entirely just yet. Instead, the images will only load when I’ll scroll down and view the content. That way all the text content will load initially which in turn decrease the page load speed.
To enable lazy loading on your site all you need to do is, go to LS Cache plugin settings and click on the green “Show Advanced Options” button.
Once done, you’ll see all the advanced options of which one would be “Media” click on it.
Right at the top, you’ll see a Lazy Loading Images toggle button which by default is turned off. Your job is to turn it on and finally on the right side click on the “Save Changes” button.
To check it in real-time, visit any of your site pages and start scrolling down you’ll notice all the images are not pre-loaded and they will only load when you scroll down to it.
14. Optimize CSS Delivery
Heard something like “eliminate render-blocking resources”?
Then keep reading…
CSS is the core of how beautiful your website look in terms of visuals and animations. Usually, your website reads CSS code in two ways – either in the external CSS file which loads before the page renders or the inline CSS which is directly written in the HTML code.
The external CSS is a file which you create as a whole and load it with the help of a code snippet in the HTML file.
The code is:
<link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” href=http://urlname/style.css />
Inline CSS is directly written inside of the HTML check out the image below for better understanding.
There’s nothing wrong with both the methods, however, when you are optimizing for page load speed, it is recommended not to use inline CSS and always use external CSS files to keep the code clean.
Also, try and create a master CSS file and use it all across your website because creating multiple external CSS files will send more HTTP request thus increase the page load time.
For all the non-techies who want to know how many external or internal CSS files they currently have on their website you can use the CSS delivery tool by Varvy.
I plugged in Forbes and they only have one external CSS file which is the way to go.
However, on putting up Search Engine Journal (SEJ), I was astounded that they had five external CSS files which are a lot and there’s a room for improvement.
Here’s a snapshot of the inline CSS of SEJ. Not bad.
But as I mentioned above if you have more external CSS file it all adds up in your website load time. The best solution to this problem is to copy paste all your CSS code and create a master CSS file. Finally once done, use it all across your site.
You can read this fantastic resource by Varvy for combining external CSS.
Once you have combined all your CSS code into one external file, head over to Google Pagespeed Insights and check if you have any render-blocking CSS issues or not.
If you are using any of the WordPress caching plugins like LS Cache or WP Rocket, then you might not face any such issues, however, if you do check out Google’s recommendation on optimizing your CSS delivery.
15. Run A Compression Audit
In a timely manner keep a habit of running a compression audit. The smaller the file size the better because they load faster compared to large files.
You must have noticed that some of the big websites have a ton of images in a single page which increases the overall size of the page. Due to a lot of media content the pages get more than 300kb big and it takes more time to load.
One great way is to compress those heavy pages and increase the page speed.
You should use GIDNetwork to run a quick compression audit of your site and see how you can improve the page speed.
I went ahead and tried checking it for one of our site’s URL and here are the results.
As you can see our page is compressed adequately with the compression type as GZIP.
If for any reason the page is not properly compressed you’ll see a detailed analysis on how you can improve your page speed by making the required changes on the page.
16. Choose A Better Theme To Optimize Website Speed in Quick Time
WordPress has thousands if not millions of free and premium themes available in the repository.
My recommendation to you before you select a theme for your website is, don’t opt for a super fancy looking theme that has a lot of CSS files, sliders, and carousels.
Because those large CSS files will take a huge lot of time to load and make your site load slow even after doing all the above optimizations.
Before you install the theme, in the WordPress repository you have an option to preview the theme. Preview all the themes that you like and decide which one has simple design.
We always look for a theme that is minimalist in design yet powerful in features. The theme we use on BloggingLabs and recommend to our readers is Generatepress.
Generatepress is one of the most lightweight and fastest loading theme in the entire WordPress repository.
You can check out our in-depth Generatepress review to know more about the product.
17. Reduce Time to First Byte
Everyone is focusing on how fast their site fully loads but no one is bothered about the time it takes for the page to start loading.
When a reader visits your site it sends the first HTTP request to the server to receive the first byte of data and in the middle of that three things take place:
- DNS lookup
- Server Processing
Thankfully, if you use the Chrome browser, you can see how much time the entire process takes with the help of Developer tools.
But before that keep in mind, that the server response time would be highly dependent on your ISP speed.
That being said, to check the TTFB, right-click on your chrome browser and select “Inspect.” In that head over to the “Network” option and in the last tab which is “Waterfall” hover your mouse and you’ll see the following image.
For BloggingLabs our TTFB is 219 which is a bit high compared to what Google recommends but we will get it fixed for sure.
Now for any reason you are not using Google Chrome browser in that case, you can use free online tools like WebPageTest` it will also show you the TTFT.
If you already have 200ms TTFB, you can skip this section.
But for all those who have not reached there just yet, there could be multiple reasons for the same.
You have four primary reasons for this to happen:
- Web server configuration
- Content creation
- ISP issue
From the above four reasons, you have control over two of them – server configuration & content creation.
Here’s a great image and article on TTFB by Varvy which you should check out to know in detail about the topic.
For all the WordPress users, your site has dynamic pages which needs to interact with the database before the page is delivered or load. However, you can reduce the page load time by enabling caching which we talked about earlier in the post.
Q1) How can I speed up my WordPress mobile site?
To improve your site speed on mobile, all the above tips from the article will apply here as well. However, one additional thing which you should implement is start using Accelerated Mobile Pages aka AMP.
To install AMP on your WordPress site, download the AMP for WP plugin, install it and you are good to go. After successful installation, you’ll see an energy symbol in the SERPs.
Q2) How do I reduce server response time in WordPress?
To reduce the server response time, there are several things to perform. Here are some of them:
- Eliminate high CPU plugins
- Upgrade to HTTP/2 servers
- Ditch EIG hosting
- Upgrade your PHP version
- … and that’s not all
You can read this detailed guide from Online Media Masters for better understanding.
Q3) Does Jetpack slow down my WordPress site?
It’s a myth that Jetpack slows down majority of the WordPress site; however, that’s not true. The code is highly optimized and you can control all the features of the plugin which means the weight of the plugin is entirely under your control.
Q4) How do I reduce TTFB in WordPress?
To reduce TTFB of your WordPress website here are a couple of things which you need to keep in mind:
- Use a fast WordPress host
- Implement a CDN
- Use a premium DNS service
- Perform WordPress caching
For diving deep into the technical details of reducing TTFB and understanding it to the core check out this in-depth article from Kinsta.
Q5) Why is my page loading slow?
The only reason for the website to load slowly is your server on which the site is hosted. Your server is in ideal state before someone clicks on your website. If anyone clicks on your site, the server starts to respond and that’s when the speed of your server comes in to picture.
Look, improving page speed is a wide ocean and has a lot to touch upon. I hope after reading this massive guide you would implement some of the tips that I have shared with you and I’m sure it will improve your overall site performance.
I have tried and covered the topic in as much detail as I can keeping the language simple. However, if you feel stuck in the middle, please feel free to leave a comment down below and let me know I’d be more than happy to help you out.
Also, if you have any more great suggestions for improving page speed keep’em coming in the comments section.