Site speed is one of the Google ranking factors. And with the Google Core Vitals update, it is even more important to focus on site speed and ensure that our sites or blogs load faster on both desktops and mobile devices. In this post, I will share 8 tips to improve your site speed.
You must conduct site speed tests every month, or whenever you make any major changes to your site such as installing or activating new plugins, parent or child theme changes, ads, adding any widgets or pop-ups, etc.
These are the 2 websites that I use to conduct speed tests
Websites to check your site speed:
You can check Google Core Vital Report here
8 Tips to improve your site speed today
Here are a few tips to help improve your site speed.
Take a look at your plugins
From your WordPress dashboard take a hard look at the plugins installed. Do you really need that shortcode plugin, when the block editor has it?
In short, remove plugins that you are not using. If you can do without some of the plugins, please uninstall them. Too many plugins can slow your site down. Aim to keep 20 or fewer plugins.
Take your time to double check each and every plugin and determine if it is necessary.
When in doubt you can always deactivate the plugin and check if anything is broken on your site. If the site’s appearance is weird, then turn it back on, and keep it.
Get a better hosting plan
Your web host can also help you with site speed. They can re-adjust things on their end, suggest changes to you, etc. Get in touch with them, and just ask!
Use themes that are site speed friendly
I like pretty websites as they make a great impression. But pretty also brings in a lot of CSS style sheets, fonts, and unused codes on your sites.
Whichever parent theme you buy, you still need to tweak them a bit, but I found that some themes are better than others. For parent themes or the site framework, I recommend using Genesis, Kadence, or Generate Press. Kadence or Generate Press is free, and they are lightweight.
You can use free child themes for Kadence or Generate Press to customize the site’s menu, fonts, colors, etc, and preload fonts, and optimize your site.
About Page Builders: I do not recommend page builders at all (like Astra, Elementor, Divi, etc). They bloat your site for no reason. You can get special features like boxes, tables from Block editor instead. If not, use images to give it a unique look/feel.
Install a caching plugin
A caching plugin generates static HTML pages of your website and saves it on your server.
So each time when a user tries to access your website, your caching plugin serves up the lighter HTML page version instead of processing the comparatively heavier WordPress PHP scripts.
Caching plugins for WordPress
- WP Super Cache
- Simple Cache
- WP Fastest Cache
- WP Rocket (paid)
Asset Cleaner Plugin or Autoptimize Plugin
If you notice a warning for unused CSS, JS, and need to fix those, consider installing the Asset cleaner plugin. Using this plugin you can offload unused JS and CSS queries, and also turn off certain plugins that are not being in use on a particular page or post.
Alternatively, you can also install the Autoptimize plugin to remove Google fonts, preload, and load fonts, etc.
Both plugins – Autoptimize or Asset Cleaner – are free.
Other plugins and general site settings tips
Here are additional tips for improving your site speed, this is more of a housekeeping items
- Instagram or Pinterest feed plugins: These plugins slow your blogs. Use a generic social follow plugin that has all of your channels, and avoid displaying your Instagram feed or Pinterest feed on the footer or sidebar of your websites.
- Remove Gravator: Gravatar is an image and public profile that follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you do things like comment or post on a blog. You don’t need a Gravator profile to reply to comments or have an author profile.
Optimize Ads settings
Ad management companies like Mediavine allow you to opt for ads that are optimized for speed. You can check the settings and optimize it, or contact the ad management company for support.
Image Optimization Tips
Media files take up a lot of server data and can slow your site down. Use these tips to optimize your current media files (without compromising on the image quality)
- Short Pixel: Use ShortPixel to optimize old image files (including all the 7-8 sizes that are created by your theme), including newer ones that you will upload. ShortPixel offers 100 credits for free every month. If you have a ton of photos to optimize you will have to buy a paid plan – monthly or one time credits.
- Lazy load Images: You can use a free plugin like SMUSH or activate lazy loading of images from WP Rocket. Lazy Loading defers the loading of an image that is not needed on the page immediately. An image, not visible to the user when the page loads, is loaded later when the user scrolls and the image actually becomes visible.
Before you upload your images, ensure that they are resized. Use a software to compress the image further like LightRoom or online via TinyPNG.
As mentioned above, site speed tests should be done monthly, to ensure you stay up to date.
Also, ensure you are checking your plugins regularly for updates, and removing those that you don’t need.
My SEO and Site Checklist includes all of this – in a printable format. Download for free here