Wordpress Speed Optimization Service
Will Your WordPress Site Fail
the Two Second Load Test?
Take The Two Second Test Now
Ideally, it needs to be under two seconds.
Two and a half is just about OK and three is pushing it.
Any more and you need our help now!
Is your WordPress loading time slow? More than two seconds? Don’t worry, most are :).
Are you asking “how to speed up my wordpress site loading time”?
Tests have already proved that loading speed in itself is NOT a major direct ranking factor (unless it’s dead SLOW, then it can harm you).
BUT… (and it’s a big but).
You can have the most amazing site on the web but if it takes more than a couple of seconds to load, people will hit the “back” button. You’ve just lost that visitor (and will continue to do so!).
User metrics such as CTR (click through rate) and dwell time (time spent on your site) are becoming more and more important in the rankings.
Have a look at these two WordPress loading time screenshots below. They are both reports from GTmetrix.com, one of several testing sites.
These sites are excellent for telling you what is slowing down your WordPress site’s loading time.
Most can be sorted, some can not (Google and Youtube are some of the worst offenders).
The first is an unfortunate local (cleaning) business whose identity I have hidden to save embarrassment.
The second one is a report for this site. You can click on each one to get a better view.
WordPress Loading Speed Optimization using Gtmetrix
Here’s the slow local site results….
So what do the numbers on the speed tests mean?
1/ Loading Time. The time it takes for every element on the page to load. Not however, how long it takes to appear to load. More about that later.
2/ The total size of the page. The more that has to be downloaded, the longer it takes. Large unoptimised images take a long time.
3/ Header requests. These are what the browser needs to display the web page. The more things it needs to download, the longer it takes. Ideally, you want as few header requests as possible.
4/ Page Speed Score. A measurement metric that gives a rating for how fast a page loads (and what is stopping it from doing so).
5/ Yslow Score Another set of measurements which is used alongside Pagespeed to give a good overall result (and ways to improve things.
6/ The Waterfall. A graphic representation of how fast each item is loading and which ones are holding up the process. Probably the most useful of all of the measurement metrics. Now… compare those figures with those below for this website.
Can you see the difference?
1/ Loading Time.
Site 1 (“poor one”) 29.9
Site 2 (this one) 0.7
2/ The total size of the page.
Site 1 (“poor one”) 34.4 MB
Site 2 (this one) 0.45 MB
3/ Header requests.
Site 1 (“poor one”) 167
Site 2 (this one) 9 (now 14 after adding a couple of things)’
4/ Page Speed Score.
Site 1 (“poor one”) 28%
Site 2 (this one) 100%
5/ Yslow Score
Site 1 (“poor one”) 56%
Site 2 (this one) 95%
A loading speed of around about a second, compared to nearly thirty.
The slow site has a page size about seven times larger and an incredible 167 header requests compared with just nine here. It all starts to add up.
Now in fairness, this site is stripped back as much as possible with anything unnecessary thrown out.
Web designers need to ask themselves “is this really necessary?” before adding something “fancy” just for the sake of it.
Before we get carried away, look at this screenshot. It’s our site tested by Pingdom.com (another good test site).
Can you see the differences between the results for this very site above and below?
This is why it is vital to use the same testing site to check things. That way you get consistency of results.
WordPress Loading Speed Optimization using Pingdom
How to Increase Loading Speed of a WordPress site
“The Illusion Of Speed”
So, is there any hope for someone who has a slow loading WordPress website?
Why WordPress is like an empty shop window
Unlike “normal”, static websites, WordPress constructs pages dynamically.
This means that the page is constructed “on the fly” as it is requested. The best way to describe it is to imagine the site as an empty shop window.
Each time someone wants to see the site, there’s a mad rush to stock the empty shop with goods.
WE need to “fool” the visitor into thinking the shop window is already full by presenting the important stuff first.
Remember, it’s the USER EXPERIENCE that is paramount (not some arbitrary testing score).
What we need to do is get a site to APPEAR faster loading to the naked eye of the visitor. So, we…
Present the “Above the fold” stuff first
Can you see that a slow site can be made to LOOK fast if we get the right stuff to load first (before other things that will be needed slightly later?).
What we have to do is get things like the page framework to load early in the process (so the page actually looks like the page you want to see).
Rather than constructing a new version of the shop window (site) we can show a stored version of the last time it was shown / requested. This accelerates the loading and is called “page caching”.
You have things called “expires headers”. These tell the browser whether things have changed on the page since the last visit. If they have not, it does not need to call them again.
Google is a pain because often it will not set an expiry date so Google stuff (analytics code, Google Fonts, Youtube video players etc) has to be requested every time. This slows the load time down.
Images & Videos
Images and videos devour resources.
Do you need every image or video to load immediately? Large resources like these can be “lazy loaded” when (and only when), they are needed.
Did you notice how the images on this page only appeared as you scrolled down the page? That is because they were “lazy loaded”.
For example, images further down the page do not have to be loaded until the visitor / reader gets there. That could be minutes after the initial paint.
The same goes for videos. Many people may not even want to watch videos on your page.
Many people have videos that autoplay. It’s not only slows loading down but also annoys a lot of visitors.
Knowing how to increase image loading speed in wordpress is important too. Images need to be optimised (reduced file sizes mean quicker loading).
Most can be seriously compressed without negatively impacting quality.
If you have visitors from around the world, you need to use a CDN (content delivery network) service.
Basically, copies of your site are stored at locations around the globe.
If your site is in say, Australia and the visitor is from the UK (half way around the world), the files will be served from a UK based server rather than from Australia.
This results in a huge drop in how far the information has to travel (and hence a much reduced load time). They have not got to travel across the world (they are already there).
On a lighter note, you have to use a CDN to get a 100% score in YSlow (number 5 in the GTmetrix tests above)!
Remember the header requests (167 separate ones) from the site above? That’s a lot of similar requests. Why not put as many as possible into a combined file?
That way you could say ten, fifteen maybe even twenty in one file (and so under one header!). This goes for CSS too.
It’s like doing a load of food shopping but forgetting to take a couple of bags to load it all into.
Instead of putting them all in a big bag or plastic tub, imagine if you had to go back and forth to the car moving a couple of items at a time (say twenty trips, rather than one or two).
Third party header requests
A lot of things nowadays are cloud based. For example video avators. We used to have them on here (a walk on presenter who explained things).
The problem was that the extra headers and loading elements from somewhere else added a second or more to the load speed.
Bear in mind this is a page about loading times!
It’s good as it lightens the load on your server.
The problem is that you have no control on the loading speed, the number of header requests or the header expiry date (another page load factor).
One of the biggest offenders is Google Analytics. Youtube embeds are another factor in bogging down the page rendering.
Their page speed insights tool used to tell site owners off for not having expiry dates on headers but it was the GA headers that were causing the problem!
The trick is to cut out the unnecessary stuff.
Look at this. See how a simple call to an external font adds a relatively large chunk of time to the download process.
Minification This is cutting out white space / gaps in the page code and removing developer comments etc.
It makes a big difference but you can overdo it and mess up the page’s look. You have to use trial and error and then back track when you negatively impact the page.
And the elephant in the room… Hosting
If you don’t have fast hosting (Solid State Disks – SSD), then most of the above will be wasted. The base speed of this site reduced by over a second and a half just being on the present hosting package compared to a previous one.
So how much does WordPress Speed Optimization cost?
This will depend on a couple of factors…
1/ Is there anyone else involved?
Do you have a web designer who still has input into the site? They may already have their own preferred set up (especially if the site is “their baby”).
Sadly sometimes, there can be an ego aspect that does not help matters. We will work alongside them to achieve our results. Each extra step adds time to the job.
We will also require FTP access to the sites server (to check conflicts and any other problems). Sometimes one small change can upset a site. We need to get straight in to the server to reverse this (another reason why we try to work on a “dummy” copy of the site first).
2/ Size and complexity of the site.
3/ Existing set up, especially plugins.
This can be problematic with some “all in one” plugins like Jetpack, where everything is contained within one application. If we try to add or take away things according to our formula, things can react against each other.
Sometimes plugins just do not get on with one another and cause what is known as a conflict.
We have to make sure that they work together. Sometimes, the best settings for speed mean the site does not function properly. In those cases, we have to “throttle back” slightly on the speed settings.
It’s no good having a lightning fast site if important images or videos do not load.
This is very much a trial and error process. You are probably thinking “what if they break my site whilst they are working on it?”
Well we have a special way of dealing with that so your site functions as normal until we are confident the changes we make are “safe”.
Each job is priced individually but in many cases, our speed ups start at $ 195 for a straightforward job. Very rarely do they exceed $ 295