If you’ve watched last week’s video about how to assess your website’s page speed, you should now have a solid footing in what page speed is and why it’s something you definitely need to pay attention to on your website.

So let’s focus on some of the ways that you can help to optimize your website’s page speed, particularly if you’re on WordPress.

There are 7 main steps I recommend when it comes to improving your page speed:

  1. Create page speed friendly images
  2. Make sure that your Video & Audio Files are embedded
  3. Get a Caching Plugin
  4. Review Your Plugins
  5. Implement Advanced Manual Changes
  6. Get better website hosting
  7. Consider if it’s time to build a new website

Create Page Speed Friendly Images

Use the Correct Image Format

It’s important to remember that photos on your website should be JPGs and not PNGs, GIFs or other formats.

Your logo may be in SVG or PNG format, and other transparent images on your website will likely be PNG files but make sure that any photos are in JPG format.

JPGs are more web-friendly files because they are much smaller and, therefore don’t demand as much bandwidth to load. The bigger the file, the more work it takes to load.

So that is going to be your first step.

Resize Your Images

Make sure that you have re-sized all of your images to be only the size you need for the spot an image is being placed into on your site.

For example, if you have a feature image on your website that is ideally 1000 pixels wide, you should upload an image that is exactly 1000 pixels wide.

Anything smaller will look pixelated and grainy. Anything larger is going to require users to unnecessarily download a larger image, slowing down your page load speed.

You wouldn’t want to be uploading an image that is straight off of your digital camera into that spot, as they are often 5000 or more pixels wide.

It makes far more sense to change the dimensions of your images before you upload them so that you don’t end up forcing a website visitor to load a giant image when a much smaller one will do.

You can use a tool like Adobe Photoshop or Preview on Mac in order to resize your images. Canva can also be a great option here for creating a specifically sized image as well.

Choose the Right Image Resolution

You’ll also want to ensure you choose the right image resolution. In addition to resizing your images, reduce your images to web resolution at 72dpi.

The images that come directly from your digital camera, a photographer or a stock website are often 300dpi and those images should always be reduced to web resolution if the original is higher than that.

You should be able to use the same image tool you used to resize your image to also change the dpi setting.

Optimize Your Images

If you’re on a WordPress powered site, I highly recommend getting a plugin that is designed to optimize your media library’s images.

We usually implement a plugin called Imagify for all of our clients and we’ve seen very good success with it, in terms of reducing image file size.

Imagify has both free and paid plans, and typically a small paid plan is often necessary to optimize all of your images initially. Afterwards, their free plan is often sufficient for ongoing optimization of images, unless you’re adding a lot of new images each month.

Imagify also provides a solution for tackling the challenge of low mobile Google PageSpeed Insights scores, which I talked about in last week’s video about why page speed optimization is important.

The Imagify plugin provides you with an option to serve up a mobile image format (.webP) instead of the jpgs that your desktop is displaying.

Reduce the number of images on your website

Quite honestly, the best advice I can give from a website speed standpoint is:

If you don’t need an image, ditch it.

Prospective clients love images to look at and obviously, if you’re in a visual industry, it’s going to be extremely important to show what you do.

However, too many images will weigh down your website, so curation is really going to be important.

Taking this step can be difficult for a lot of business owners, and photographers, I’m thinking of you in particular with the number of images I know you love to add to your blog posts… but you need to curate and reduce your image load.

Pick the images that are the most valuable and illustrate what you do and what you offer. Be mindful of how many you have and be aware of the effect it has on your page speed.

If you have a million pictures throughout your website, in blogs or in galleries, no matter how you resize or optimize them, they will slow your site speed.

Embed Your Video

Make sure that if you are including videos on your website, that you embed them using a solution like YouTube or Vimeo, rather than hosting them directly on your website platform. Vimeo is the platform I use myself for my videos, like the one above.

When you host video files directly on your website, they’re going to load with the page. Sometimes those videos can be very large file sizes, which will definitely slow down your page loading speed.

Consider any video testimonials you’ve incorporated on your website, samples of your work that are in video format, or educational video content you’ve included on your blog posts.

Make sure you’ve embedded them using a third party video hosting service.

Use a Caching Plugin

If your website is self-hosted on WordPress, it will be important to install a high quality caching plugin.

What is a caching plugin?

Caching is a complex technology that does one simple thing really well: it makes your website fast.

There are various caching plugins out there, but the one we recommend and use ourselves is WP Rocket.

It’s a premium plugin, which means it’s going to have an annual fee associated with it, but I believe it’s worth it.

This is one of those places where paying a bit of money is a good investment, as we’ve seen far superior performance on WP Rocket than any free caching plugin.

I have been very happy with the results it has consistently given in terms of improving website page speed, especially in combination with Imagify, which is the image optimization plugin I mentioned in last week’s video about creating page speed friendly images.

However, an important note before you start implementing new plugins on your website. Make sure you have a solid backup system in place first.

Go back and watch my previous video about how to choose a web host which included content on how to determine if your hosting company has sufficient backups.

Review Your Plugins

If your website is on WordPress, you may want to go through all of your plugins and disable and delete any plugins that you are not using as they could be adding assets to your website that you aren’t aware of and that could be contributing to slowing down your page speed.

However…

Alert: Back It Up!

Just like I mentioned with implementing WP Rocket for caching, another big backup warning applies here as well.

While you are capable of pruning your plugins if you are comfortable navigating your WordPress admin area, you must do this very carefully and absolutely make sure you have a backup service in place first before you tackle any sort of plugin clean up.

You don’t want to be deleting plugins without a proper backup in place because it’s entirely possible you may accidentally delete something that you actually do need.

If you have a website developer that you trust, this may be a task to bring them on the team since they are likely to know better what certain plugins are for and if they’re necessary.

And a side note that if this is an area you need support on, we offer a WordPress Health Checkup service that you should consider for your website.

Advanced Manual Changes

There are also some other changes that an experienced developer can do.

This is where we get into territory where you are not going to be able to make changes yourself, but I want to mention a few other items that you might want to take a note of if your website is on WordPress and you have an experienced developer that you trust.

In that situation, you may want to ask your developer to also take a look at the following items, as improvements here could also contribute to improving your site’s sluggishness.

  • Htaccess edits
  • Image optimizations within the theme files
  • Loading plugin assets on the pages they are used

Get Better Website Hosting

As I talked about in a previous video about choosing your website hosting provider, this is absolutely one of those places where you get what you pay for.

It can be tempting to sign up for the least expensive hosting package you can find, but I would strongly advise that you not go that route.

What many of the cheaper website hosting providers do is to “crowd” their servers. Essentially, they put a lot of customers on a single server. As a result, you can end up with a slower website because the server resources are being exhausted.

Another downside of the cheap hosting companies is that some of them don’t properly maintain their servers. They just keep customers on old servers because it saves the company money.

The only way to know for certain if your hosting is a primary contributing factor to a slow-loading website is to actually move your website off your host to a really reliable hosting company. At that point you can compare the before and after page speed test results.

However, migrating a website is not a super quick thing to do a lot of the time, so it’s usually one of the last measures we’ll recommend. That is, unless we know with some certainty that you are on a poor-quality hosting provider.

If you’re looking for a hosting company that has solid performance when it comes to page speed, pay close attention to the recommended hosting providers I mentioned in What to Look For in a Website Hosting Provider.

Consider if it’s Time to Build a New Website

You may focused on wanting to improve the page speed of the website you already have.

However, in some situations, you may also need to start evaluating whether it’s time to start with a fresh new site. This will be particularly relevant if you are on a theme or website platform that is coded in a way that all your optimization efforts are still resulting in a glacially slow website.

If you do go that route, you will need to ensure you work with a developer who has experience building websites with page speed optimization in mind.

As such, that is a question you’ll need to ask whoever you’re considering hiring. You will find it included on the Interview Questions Cheat Sheet that you can find alongside my How to Hire Your Next Website Developer video series.

What to Expect from Page Speed Optimization

There is no clear answer about how much to expect your page speed to improve after you’ve implemented the recommended changes. A lot will depend on how your website has been coded.

Just because your website is custom coded on WordPress isn’t automatically going to mean better page speed over a pre-built, premium theme. That is, unless whoever built it was considerate of page speed from the beginning.

If you’ve done all the recommended optimization tasks, and you still have a low score, it’s likely just a result of how your site has been coded.

In that case, you’ll need to evaluate if the site is slow enough that it’s impacting your SEO and conversions. If it is, you may need to start planning for the next iteration of your website

So there you go, a plan of action to tackle your slow-as-molasses website!

Website Quiz

Is your WordPress website hurting your business goals? Find out now!

Take the Quiz