Did you know most consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less? [source: KissMetrics blog]
Yet, most of the WordPress websites out there take much longer to load. More like 4-8 seconds.
And Google found that even half a second can cause traffic to a website to drop by 20% [source: SearchEngineJournal.com].
Needless to say, a fast website is important.
But do you know how long your website takes to load? If you don’t, you can use Pingdom’s Website Speed Test tool. It’s free and takes just a moment. You can even do it right now and come back. And don’t be too scared by the number as in this article, I’m going to share five free, simple tools you can use to make your WordPress site load much faster.
Cloudflare is one of those tools that, after you use it, you can’t believe it’s actually free.
Without getting too technical, CloudFlare is like an intermediary to your site. Instead of sending traffic directly to your site, it first goes through CloudFlare.
Then, using some software, it makes your site load MUCH faster.
The tool is so powerful that’s it’s used by some of the biggest brands on the web.
Sign up is fairly simple. You need to first create your account here: https://www.cloudflare.com/sign-up.
Once you do, CloudFlare will guide you through the process. It takes less than 15 minutes to complete. And once you do, you’ll begin seeing blazing fast speeds.
2. W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache is a free caching plugin for WordPress.
Caching is basically the process of taking snapshots of your website and delivering those to your visitors.
With WordPress, pages don’t actually exist as files. Instead, every time someone visits a page on your site, WordPress has to build that page.
As you can imagine, this takes some time to do.
So caching software delivers these “screenshots” instead to your visitors, which load faster.
Setting up W3 Total Cache can seem daunting at first, but WP Beginner has a great step by step tutorial on how to set up W3 Total Cache.
3. WP Smush.it
Have you ever had issues loading images on websites? Sometimes they load very slowly.
That’s because images are one of the largest elements on your site in terms of data. The more images you have, the longer it takes your site to load.
Luckily, there is a way to reduce the data size of images without degrading the quality of the image or the physical size.
You can compress them using a plugin called WP Smush.it.
Once this plugin is installed on your site, it automatically goes through all the images on your site and removes any extraneous data that isn’t needed from the images.
The result is a site that can load faster because the images aren’t as large (in terms of data).
4. BJ Lazy Load
In addition to reducing the size of images, you can use BJ Lazy Load to help with the image problem.
This is how it works:
Without BJ Lazy Load, when a website is loaded in your browser, it loads every single image on the page, including the ones that you can’t see unless you scroll.
But when you install BJ Lazy Load, those images that the user can’t see aren’t loaded until they scroll down the page.
To the user, they don’t notice that the images haven’t loaded.
But they will notice that your site is loading faster.
The final tool is a plugin that helps keep your WordPress database maintained.
You may not know it, but all of your content is stored in a database. This includes your posts and pages, your website settings and information about the media on your site.
As your website grows (as you add more content, more pages, more posts and more media), your database grows as well. But there are elements in your database that don’t need to be there. This includes spam comments and old drafts of posts.
WP-Optimize goes through your database and removes these extraneous elements. And in the process, optimizes your database so your site can load faster.
What Tools Do You Use?
Do you have any tools, services or plugins you use to speed up your WordPress site? If you do, feel free to share them in the comments below.