WordPress is the world’s most popular website management tool, with an estimated market share of 64%. But how familiar are you with WordPress outside of adding new posts or updating content on the homepage? If the answer is not very, your website traffic could take a hit during Google’s upcoming May update.
Google’s new update is making the page experience websites provide a core ranking factor. And the biggest issue Google is taking aim at is loading times, which makes sense because let’s face it, slow websites are the absolute worst.
Websites that don’t meet Google’s standard for loading time (under 2.5 seconds) are expected to be displayed much less frequently. By way of example and to prove IT CAN BE DONE, Virtual Internships originally had a score of around 13 on mobile – we managed to achieve 97 post-optimisation without altering design…WordPress can be fast! Find out what your score is on Google’s own PageSpeed Insights.
In this post we’re going to take a look at easy to make WordPress mistakes that are slowing down your site. Getting the following errors fixed should be at the top of your to-do list because time is running out to safeguard your organic traffic!
1. Installing Too Many Plugins
One of the great things about WordPress is plugins, there’s an abundance for every function imaginable and they make managing and building a website easy, especially for people with no coding experience.
To fix this we recommend manually auditing all plugins installed on your site to see which ones aren’t in use, from there you can remove the dead weight. One potential problem is if your website relies on a memory intensive plugin to provide core functionality to your site, which is often the case with WordPress.
By removing the plugin you risk breaking your site, but if you keep it you risk losing your organic traffic after Google’s Page Experience update.
If this sounds like your site, it’s best to consult with an expert who can optimise your code and plugin files so they load faster, and in a way that will meet Google’s new standards. Avoid adding more plugins to try and solve this problem as that’s what landed you here in the first place.
Visit Atomic’s page on Google PageSpeed Optimization to learn how we can turbocharge your site so that it doesn’t lose any functionality, reduces its dependency on plugins, and will retain its traffic after Google’s new update.
2. Uploading Images To WordPress Without Compressing Or Cutting Them
Be honest, how often do you compress images before uploading them to your site? Not doing this is adding vital seconds on to your page loading time.
Everybody wants their site to look great, and adding high-quality images is often an easy way to achieve that. What people don’t realise is that image files are HUGE. A high-resolution image is often in the region of 8MB, which is 11x higher than the recommended WordPress image file size (70kb).
By just taking a great looking stock photo (from Shutterstock for example) and adding it to your website, you’re slowing it down considerably.
Fixing this is a difficult and time-consuming task, you need to run each image from a compression program to bring the file size down without compromising on quality. Another best practice is to photoshop each image by cropping it to the exact pixel width in which it will be embedded on your site.
3. Not Updating Your WordPress Theme Files
Many owners of WordPress websites are at fault for this, often the logic is “it’s working fine so why change it?” The answer for this is because WordPress is constantly improving and optimizing its files to improve performance and run faster! Something which is soon to become more important than ever before.
Updating core WordPress files is much more difficult than it seems because it often replaces old lines of codes with the industry’s new best practises. This is problematic for websites that rely on the old lines of code.
Before updating WordPress guidelines recommend reading through the changelogs to identify if the new code could potentially damage your site. This is all well and good if you’re familiar with coding languages and programming. If, like the rest of us those changelogs look gibberish to you, simply updating your site without caution could cause problems.
To ensure that your site is running the fastest version of WordPress, reach out to a specialist (such as your friends at Atomic Digital Marketing) who will happily and safely update your site for you.
4. Finding The Right Browser Caching Settings For Your Site
Browser caching is vital to keep page loading times down for return visitors. It works by storing key information about your website in the visitor’s browser allowing them to load your website data much faster on their second visit. They’re many great caching plugins available for you to take advantage of.
The tricky part with caching is finding the right balance and using it wisely on the appropriate pages. For example, if you have a blog post or sign-in portal page which rarely changes, you can keep those cache files stored on the user’s browser for months. But if you run an eCommerce website that frequently adds new products and changes the layout, it’s best to opt for a shorter caching period so that returning visitors see the new content.
5. Move Video Players Below The Fold
Having videos on your site is a great way to get visitors engaging with your content and educating them about your products or services. The trouble is that video embeds can be memory intensive and cause slow loading times.
The technical reason is that website’s load in a logical order by reading a page of code. In general when a large file of code is high up in the page order; website’s run slow because they can’t move on until the next line until that code has been rendered.
Hence, it’s best practice to load videos below the fold where the visitor can’t see them until they’ve scrolled down, this is simply because it gives the video more time to load without interrupting the user experience.
Therefore, we recommend structuring your page in an SEO friendly way that loads video and all other slow to load files below the fold.
Don’t Let Lazy Developers Tell You A Lightning Fast Website Is Not Possible
To avoid a Google penalty and drop in traffic, you’re going to need to score 90 or above in Google’s PageSpeed Insight tool before the May update. This means your website needs to load in under 2.5 seconds.
It may sound difficult but it’s far from impossible. Bad developers have made their lives easier by convincing website owners that they can’t have both a high functioning website that loads in the blink of an eye. You can believe us when we say that’s simply not true.
Atomic’s PageSpeed Optimisation Service guarantees to get you the loading speed you need to thrive during Google’s new update whilst retaining all the key functionality of your website.
Our WordPress Performance Optimisation includes everything we discussed in this article:
- Plugin code optimisation
- Image compression and cutting
- Safe WordPress theme updates
- Page Caching tailored to your site
- On-page video enhancement
Contact us now to schedule your website speed optimisation before Google’s May 2021 update to get the best results.