Speed has always mattered. But in today’s digital marketplace, where you can confirm that ideal Christmas gift that’s out of stock nearly everywhere whilst on the loo and find a place for a well-needed massage while you’re rubbing your neck on the bus to town, it matters more than ever.
The problem is, though, this need for speed is clearly no secret. And so even if you make every effort to increase your website’s load times, any gains you happen to make will have little effect on its overall performance in the SERPs.
So here’s the dilemma: how do you give your WordPress website a competitive edge in speed without resorting to counterintuitively filling your website with more and more optimisation plugins or digesting the same old generic advice everyone and their dog is using? Luckily, there are ways around this problem, and we’re going to share a few of the best-kept secrets used by the pros to ensure a speedy WordPress website.
The most overlooked yet impactful factor on your site’s load speed is your hosting provider. Think about it: no matter how many improvements you make and speed-enhancing plugins you install, if your site is sharing resources with a bunch more on a general, limited server, then there’s only so much (very little) they will do.
Shared hosting is cheap and cheerful — after all, it’s purpose is allowing as many people as possible to get as many sites up and running as possible. The thing is, that when you need something more than just a slot for a small business front, this cheapness and convenience quickly turns into a major drawback.
Managed WordPress hosting is hosting that’s specifically configured for WordPress — meaning faster load times, greater security, and premium support, thanks to advanced features such as your own virtual private server and a custom dashboard. It’s arguably one of the biggest WordPress speed secrets as there are so many low-cost shared hosting packages, many users don’t even bother investing a bit more time and money on their hosting — missing out, of course, on the huge benefits it has to offer.
[Our docker-based WordPress hosting platform is especially hard to beat! – Ed.]
With over five million active installations, Jetpack is not so much a WordPress secret. However, as you’d expect when the people behind WordPress come together and create a plugin, there are lots to both it’s free and premium versions that few people take the time to really explore.
For starters, Jetpack comes with features such as related posts, site stats, and contact forms, meaning you don’t have to install tonnes of separate plugins for each module. Users also get access to performance enhancements, front-end customisations, tighter security protocols, lazy loading, and a CDN.
Make the upgrade to premium, and for just a few dollars a month you also get features such as enhanced marketing tools, Google Analytics, and priority support. For media-heavy sites that need rapid speeds, particularly on mobile, — i.e. most good sites — you also get the huge benefit of unlimited video uploading and streaming services.
The number one rated caching plugin in several polls, WP Rocket is easier to configure than the popular W3 Total Cache, faster than WP Fastest Cache, and comes with a tonne of features you just won’t find with any other plugin.
Those features include speed boosters such as browser caching, database cleanup, heartbeat control, preload bot, Google tracking, Google Fonts optimisation, and lazy load, giving WP Rocket the edge over other caching plugins and even enabling your site to hit load speeds in the sub-500ms region.
Other than speedy loading, what makes WP Rocket the number one caching plugin (and a WordPress speed secret) is the ease in which it can be set up. It does away with the multiple pages of settings and options, being ready to run straight out the box as well as offering you the option to make adjustments easily within its minimal control panel.
As you can probably see as a running theme in optimising your WordPress site for speed, sometimes much less often means much, much more.