We all know that the longer your website takes to load, the more likely your visitors will be to leave. You have on average 7 seconds to deliver your message and this includes load time. So what can you do to ensure your website loads quickly, maximizing every visitor into generating commission?
Here’s how you can dramatically speed up your website’s load time and start increasing your conversions today.
Before You Begin
You need to know what you are working with, so before you start, run your website through the following speed tools:
The server already had OPCache & GZIP running, but we will explain these in more depth below, as your server may not.
For PHP based applications like WordPress, OPCache is a server side caching system which puts your PHP files into server memory. This can have drastic speed improvements over loading the files from disk each time.
If you are unsure about how to set this up, speak to your hosting provider. You will need to restart apache/nginx when you make PHP file changes to clear the cache.
GZIP is a way of compressing files to speed up the delivery. This will be used by W3 Total Cache, so ensure this in installed on your server.
You can check if it’s running already here: https://varvy.com/tools/gzip/
If not, speak to your host about getting this enabled.
CDN (S3 & CLOUDFRONT)
Setting up a content delivery network can drastically increase the speed of your website. We recommend setting up an S3 Bucket (Amazon) and Cloudfront (also amazon).
Link your S3 bucket to Cloudfront so everything that is added to S3 is automatically passed out to Cloudfront. You can learn more about Cloudfront here: https://aws.amazon.com/cloudfront/
This will also help should you wish to move server or scale your servers, as your content will already be stored offsite.
To get S3 and Cloudfront working with your WordPress blog, simply install and activate the following two plugins:
Here is a very helpful, step by step guide to setting this up on your WordPress blog: https://www.elegantthemes.com/blog/tips-tricks/how-to-use-amazon-s3-and-cloudfront-with-wordpress
This is the most popular cache plugin for WordPress and we can see why; it handles a large number of different jobs from frontend caching (Minify and Cache) but also helps with content delivery (CDN) and backend caching.
It can be a little difficult to get your head around right out of the box but it’s well worth the time invested in learning the different elements. For a static content/review site, you can pretty much just turn everything on.
For a more complex community site, you will need to tweak the settings.
If this is the first time you are setting up this plugin, the following guide will help you: https://www.wpexplorer.com/wordpress-w3-total-cache/
After installing all of the above, here are the Twist360 results:
W3 TOTAL CACHE – FINE TUNING
W3 Total Cache is a very complex beast and has lots of different options. But depending on what options you pick, you can make some serious speed improvements.
Every website is different. Most affiliate sites are pretty static, so you should be able to deliver some really strong results. If you have community aspects, members and forums, you will need more time to fine tune the plugin.
Spend some time understanding each section, and experiment turning on and off each item and speed testing your site: https://tools.pingdom.com/
Once you have found the best combination for your content, you can replicate this across other sites.
Although the Twist360 site is quite complex, changing different options had a drastic change to the load time.
TINYPNG WORDPRESS PLUGIN – IMAGE COMPRESSION
One thing that can really slow your website down is the size of your images. Using a plugin like TinyPNG (https://wordpress.org/plugins/tiny-compress-images/) will compress your images as you upload them. It works alongside the S3 Plugin, and will compress them before uploading to S3.
If you already have large images (especially on your homepage) you may want to re-upload them via this plugin to minimize load time.
As a test, we downloaded an image from Dreamstime and uploaded without the plugin. The file size was 291.7kb. With TinyPNG installed, we uploaded the same image; this time the size was 133.5kb.
After setting up these tools, the Twist360 website went from 4.59 seconds to 0.94 seconds to load the homepage – a great result!
The same can be seen in Google Analytics across the entire site, down from 10.89 seconds to 2,88 seconds:
Making speed improvements to your site will ensure your visitors get the most from your website and may also help gain you a position or two in the serps.
If you have any questions about optimizing your wordpress website, post them below and we’ll be glad to help answer them.