Chances are that if you have a website – whether it’s your publicly-ranting blog or a well-known ecommerce store – it’s likely on WordPress. After all, it powers the vast majority of websites.
Yet if there is one commonality that is shared by all websites, whether it is on WordPress or not, is the speed at which they operate.
And it’s not just website owners and managers that are concerned about site performance. Search engines have prioritized it, too. And in particular, Google.
Google’s Core Web Vitals are important site metrics that evaluate every webpage. Its criteria is site responsiveness, structure, and speed, measured by three metrics: Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, and Cumulative Layout Shift.
They play important roles in determining the quality of a page and also help to determine its ranking on Google – which in turn influences digital revenue streams.
Page speed has actually been a Google ranking factor for desktop searches since 2010 and for mobile searches since 2018.
“The new page experience signals combine Core Web Vitals with our existing search signals including mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines,” according to a Google announcement.
In a study by Google, the tech giant looked into the correlation between site speed and bounce rate. And they found the following connections:
- When a page load time goes from 1 to 3 seconds, the bounce rate increases by 32%.
- When a page load time goes from 1 to 5 seconds, the bounce rate increases by 90%.
- When a page load time goes from 1 to 6 seconds, the bounce rate increases by 106%.
- When a page load time goes from 1 to 10 seconds, the bounce rate increases by 123%.
And in other research – this time regarding the weight of websites – where more than 2 million WordPress websites were analyzed between July 2019 and July 2021.
The median page weight across all those WordPress pages was 2,437KB on desktop and 2,275KB on mobile.
For those of you wondering, that is quite a lot of weight. In fact, according to Google, the total size of a webpage should be below 500KB – with most WordPress pages being well above the suggested maximum.
These stats mean one thing: in order to meet the website performance goals of Google, WordPress websites need to be truly optimized.
Speed it up
Ideally, you should choose hyperfast hosting. “There is, however, one thing to watch out for,” said Google’s John Mueller. “Sometimes, when too many websites are hosted on a system with limited capacity, it can happen that the server is overloaded. This can result in the server and its website becoming very slow.
“Having a website hosted on a slow server makes your users unhappy.”
In addition, use caching plugins, which will create a snapshot of your website that visitors are able to access on the server – as opposed to loading all the elements of the webpage every time. This will lead to faster loading times and overall website performance.
Popular free caching plugins on WordPress include W3 Total Cache, WP Fastest Cache, Simple Cache, and WP Super Cache.
Thirdly, optimize images on the page. Yes, images can play a major role in the storytelling that is spread out across a page, but they are probably affecting the speed of your page.
So, what are ideal image file sizes? Typically, a screenshot that is unoptimized, with a resolution of 1,213 x 1,642 pixels, and taken on an iPhone in PNG, weighs 3.1MB. Meanwhile, an unoptimized JPG image with a resolution of 4,337 x 2,891 weighs 18.6MB.
There are multiple ways to suppress the size of images. These include choosing the right format (JPEG is ideal for photos while PNG works well for sharp-shaped images); compressing images using tools such as TinyJPG and Optimizila; and eliminating white space around images.
And finally, get rid of any unnecessary plugins. Plugins can be great – they can give you greater functionality, for example – yet they come at a cost. So don’t overload a page with plugins. In fact, do the opposite: be sparing in using them.
That’s because they add more HTTP requests, more database requests, and added security vulnerabilities.