This is a guest post by Susan Peters.
Susan lives and breathes writing. She writes just about anything and everything under the sun from digital marketing, web development, and cryptocurrencies.
Developing a professional-looking website is no longer an issue for small businesses, startups, and solopreneurs.
Within minutes, anyone can whip up a presentable and functional website — thanks to the plethora of self-service web design tools and content management systems like WordPress.
Although the visual quality of most websites today seem somewhat consistent, the user experience is what separates the wheat from the chaff. This depends on several factors, such as the goal of the layout, ease of navigation, and loading speed.
As far as these UX factors go, you probably still have a long way to go if you built your website all by yourself. The best place to start, however, would be your website’s performance, which directly affects its ability to retain and convert traffic.
According to statistics, a one-second delay on a website can reduce conversions by up to 7 percent. It’s also been reported that 40 percent of web traffic would abandon a site that takes over three seconds to finish loading.
Without further ado, here are five simple tips that will give your WordPress website a guaranteed performance boost.
1. Invest in cybersecurity
Believe it or not, cybersecurity and website performance go hand in hand.
Certain breaches like malware infections and compromised WordPress credentials can definitely cause a noticeable dip in website performance.
The same goes for DDoS attacks, which are aimed to incapacitate your web server by flooding it with malicious traffic from a botnet. This pertains to a network of infected devices created for the purpose of overwhelming target systems.
It’s always a good idea to check your site’s security. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. You can use a free website malware & security scan to make sure you’re site hasn’t been affected by an attack.
There are also several security plugins specifically designed to work on the WordPress platform.
WP Security Ninja, for instance, is a plugin that takes the complicated work out of securing your WordPress website. Your site can be protected from hackers and malicious software in just a few clicks.
It includes a rock-solid firewall that prevents hack attempts and security tests that show where you need to tighten your security. There’s also a malware scanner that detects malware that may already be on your site (and helps you get rid of it).
There’s also a free version that includes all of the security tests and alerts for discovered exploits in other plugins on your site.
Another plugin is Wordfence Security, which is an all-in-one security plugin that features a web application firewall and on-demand malware scanner. You can also use it to set up two-factor authentication, which makes your website virtually impervious to brute force attacks.
Of course, most of the advanced security features of Wordfence Security are locked behind a paywall — just like other security tools in and out of the WordPress plugin repository. But this doesn’t mean you should settle for a free solution.
Remember that some of the perks of cybersecurity, such as being able to showcase an SSL certificate badge, also build buyer confidence and increase the authority of your brand. Don’t let the price tag of premium WordPress security plugins put you off from investing in cybersecurity.
2. Leverage custom WordPress hosting
It’s no secret that the quality of your web hosting plays an important role in website performance.
In addition to the hardware resources needed to transfer website data to users, a reliable web host should also provide you with dependable uptime.
Truth be told, not even reputable hosting companies can guarantee uptime all year round. But in comparison to other, budget hosting companies out there, downtimes should occur significantly less if you chose a more capable hosting solution.
To make sure you’re getting your money’s worth, use an uptime monitoring tool like the one by Pingdom to measure the frequency of downtimes.
Other than upgrading to a VPS or dedicated hosting plan, you can also improve your website’s performance and stability with WordPress hosting services that are tailored to the CMS.
WordPress hosting can be found as niche products offered by most web hosting companies. At times, they can also be availed as a part of a bundle when you buy a new domain name.
3. Minify your assets
WordPress has no shortage of plugins and external tools that can optimize your website’s performance.
Image compression plugins like WP Smush, for example, improves loading speed by reducing the file size of your images without any perceivable changes in quality. You can also enable “Automatic Smush,” which—as the name suggests—automatically compresses every image you upload to your WordPress media library.
WP Smush is a completely a plug-and-play solution that you only need to activate and use once after installation.
4. Enable caching
Put simply, browser caching works by allowing browsers to save or cache your website’s data locally — allowing them to load almost instantaneously next time they are needed.
Browser caching is traditionally implemented on websites via a piece of code inserted to its .htaccess file. WordPress websites, on the other hand, can take advantage of plugins that perform the optimization in a flick of a switch.
With a plugin like WP Super Cache, for instance, all you need to do is select a checkbox and save your settings to enable caching on your website.
5. Monitor performance over time
Finally, performance optimization is not a one-time deal.
Your WordPress website continues to grow and change as you publish more content and tweak its design. To make sure its performance remains consistent, you need to constantly monitor its performance and make the necessary adjustments whenever possible.
There are several website analysis tools you can use to detect performance-related issues on your WordPress site. The most cost-effective, however, would be PageSpeed Insights, which you can use for free.
On the PageSpeed Insights homepage, just enter your website’s URL, click “Analyze,” and wait for the tool to present the results. This should take only a few seconds to complete on average.
Aside from a complete breakdown of your website’s performance, PageSpeed Insights will also provide you with a list of optimization suggestions along with the exact steps on how to perform them.
Make it a habit to run a PageSpeed Insights evaluation whenever you perform major updates to your WordPress site. If you want to build your brand’s authority, you need to ensure every visitor a good user experience.
As you can tell, it usually doesn’t take much to boost the loading speed of a WordPress website.
You just need a tangible action plan that addresses the most problematic bottlenecks in a website’s performance.
The strategies above should be more than enough to help any WordPress website run buttery smooth. If you liked what you read, check out this post for more ways to supercharge your website’s speed with WP Rocket. Cheers!