The speed with which your WordPress web pages load has a direct correlation with the success (or failure) of your Website goals. Google, Amazon.com and others have performed various studies and all show that slower loading Sites reduce the likelihood of a sale occurring and increase abandon rates (i.e. people will leave your site if it isn’t fast enough). Page load speed has even become an important SEO factor as Google use Page load times in their ranking algorithm.
The first step in understanding whether your pages are slow to load and how to improve page load speeds is to measure performance.
How to measure whether your website is slow
Fortunately there are various free services available that do a great job of measuring your page load speeds. Two that I use are Pingdom Website Speed Test and WebPagetest; The Pingdom tool runs very quickly and provides a great snapshot. Of particular use with Pingdom is the first result offered is a percentage faster or slower the website being tested is compared to other sites. If you need more thorough results then the WebPagetest is excellent (WebPagetest also allows for testing from Sydney, Australia or Wellington, New Zealand locations).
Once we have a baseline measure of how fast or slow our web pages load then we can start to optimize.
Knowing what to change to improve Web page load speeds
When starting to optimize it’s important to know what to change in order to improve page load times. Are your images causing speed problems, or what about your Webhost or perhaps you don’t actually know what needs improvement. Chances are that there are many factors that can be improved that will result in faster loading pages. Because there is so much that can be done to improve website load speeds, we really need to use the Pareto Principle in order to get the best improvement for the least time/cost.
Again we fortunately have a few very good (and free) tools available that will help us understand where improvements should be made to improve our page load times. Two of the best tools are Google PageSpeed Insights and Yahoo Yslow. In Australia PageSpeed Insights seems to be the more popular probably because of the vast market dominance that Google Search has in Australasia.
Continually having to run speed tests via the PageSpeed Insights page can become time consuming therefore it is very convenient having PageSpeed Insights results show within your WordPress dashboard.
How to show Google PageSpeed Insights results in your WordPress Dashboard
Here are the instructions for showing updates PageSpeed results in WordPress (the instructions assume you use the new version of the Google Developers Console).
Get an API key for the new Google Developers Console
We need a free API key from Google in order to show the PageSpeed Insights results in WordPress. Here is how to get an API key.
- Go to the Google Developers Console.
- In the Console, under APIs & auth click APIs and change the status of PageSpeed Insights API to ON.
- In the Console, under APIs & auth click Credentials.
- Under Public API access click Create New Key then click Server key in the pop-up.
- Add the IP address of your Webserver (you should be able to find this within Cpanel) and click Create.
- Copy the API key provided.
Implement PageSpeed Insights to show in WordPress
- Install and activate the W3 Total Cache Plugin for WordPress.
- Within your WordPress Dashboard go to Performance -> General Settings.
- Under Miscellaneous check
- Paste your Google API key into the field titled Page Speed API Key and click Save all settings.
- You’ll now see the report by going to Performance -> Dashboard.
What to do next to improve page load speeds
As can be seen from the image, PageSpeed Insights provides various recommendations to improve website performance (note that the image show a report for a very heavily optimized website running on the Google PageSpeed Service so there would normally be more recommendations for improvement). During the tutorial above we installed W3 Total Cache which is a very good start in optimizing your Website. Services such as CloudFlare can help even further.
If you need help in optimizing the speed of your WordPress Website please contact me.