Pingdom Website Speed Test

Improving Page Load Time for WordPress

I have recently been spending some time looking at ways of improving page load time for WordPress websites. This has the twin benefits of improving user experience whilst at the same time improving Google ranking.

In this article I will look at some practical ways in which I am seeking to improve the page load time on this website.

Benchmarking is critical when seeking to bring about measurable, quantifiable improvements in page speed. One possible test model would involve measuring page load speed on a clean default installation of WordPress and then again after adding individual plugins, or replacing templates. However, some results would be more relevant when performed on a site containing a representative sample of content.

This blog, started in 2008 and subject to repeated and prolonged periods of neglect since then, is as good a place to start as any.

At the time of writing it is using WordPress 4.1.1, running the TwentyFourteen theme, on a shared server. It comprises 3 pages and 48 posts, written over a period of 7 years. There are just 33 images, reasonably optimised.

There are currently 6 installed plugins, all of which are active and up-to-date, although this will by definition change over the course of the experiment. These plugins are: Akismet, Digg Digg, Duplicator, Official Statcounter plugin, Social Media Widget and UK Cookie Consent. Of these a typical site I developed now would include Akismet, Duplicator and possible the Statcounter plugin. Additionally I would usually install Yoast SEO for WordPress and W3Total Cache.

I will be measuring page load speed using Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix and Pingdom.

Let’s go:

Pingdom
Perf grade. 73/100
Page load time 2.88 sec
Faster than 55% of all websites tested

PageSpeed Insights
Mobile Speed 48/100
Desktop Speed 56/100

GTmetrix
Page Speed Grade 59% D
YSlow Grade 76% C
Page Load Time 5.24 sec

These are the benchmark scores from which I hope to improve WordPress page load time, while at the same time improving site functionality.

Firstly, we’ll look at the impact on page load speed of installing the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin, a comprehensive, widely used, well-supported free SEO plugin for WordPress.

Pingdom
Perf grade. 73/100 [No change]
Page load time 3.13 sec [+0.25 sec]
Faster than 51% of all websites tested -4%

PageSpeed Insights – No change

GTmetrix
Page Speed Grade 59% D [No change]
YSlow Grade 76% C [No change]
Page Load Time 8.08 sec  [+2.84 sec]

Next, we’ll install the Smush.it plugin.  The WP Smush.it plugin claims to improve performance and page load time by stripping hidden, bulky information from images, reducing file size without losing quality.  Our example confirms it’s claims, giving us an overall improvement in page load speed from our initial benchmark, even after installing our new SEO plugin.

Pingdom
Perf grade. 73/100 [No change]
Page load time 2.66 sec [-0.47 sec]
Faster than 58% of all websites tested +4%

PageSpeed Insights – No change

GTmetrix
Page Speed Grade 59% D [No change]
YSlow Grade 76% C [No change]
Page Load Time 4.98 sec  [-3.10 sec]

The final stage in this experiment in improving page load time for WordPress is to install the W3 Total Cache plugin. In my experience this does improve page load speed, through a combination of caching: browser, page, object, database, minify and content delivery network support. See my recent post on Improving site speed with W3 Total Cache on a Shared Server for more information.

Pingdom
Perf grade. 83/100 [+10]
Page load time 0.693 sec [-1.967 sec]
Faster than 95% of all websites tested

PageSpeed Insights
Mobile Speed 58/100 [+10]
Desktop Speed 67/100 [+11]

GTmetrix
Page Speed Grade 68% D [+9]
YSlow Grade 88% B [+12]
Page Load Time 3.85 sec [-1.39 sec]

These results highlight the improvements that can be made simply and easily through the use of Performance optimising plugins.

In subsequent posts I will be looking at improving page load time for WordPress through the use of cleaner and faster-loading themes and through the use of a CDN (Content Delivery Network).

I have now added an additional plugin – BJ Lazy Load.

GTmetrix offer a useful guide to optimising WordPress sites, which I would recommend following if you are seeking to improve page load times on your own WordPress website.

 

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