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PageSpeed Insights Score: 5 Proven Ways to Boost It for WordPress Sites

After determining what website performance is (and how we measure it), it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get on with improving our websites’ performance. In this post, we will focus on improving WordPress sites’ PageSpeed Insights score in just a few simple steps.

First, a short reminder:

PageSpeed Insights is a Google tool that helps website owners improve their site’s speed. It does not automatically measure all pages on your website, nor does it continuously monitor it. It does, however, analyze a given web page and gives it a score from 0 to 100, according to the page’s current implementation of Google’s performance best practices.

By improving the PageSpeed Insights score, you actually do two things:

• The higher the score, the more likely it is that your users will enjoy a smooth, frictionless experience.
• PageSpeed Insights gives us a hint as to how Google views our site’s performance. Since performance is correlated with your Google ranking, you should care about this parameter for SEO purposes.

How to Generate a PageSpeed Insights Report?

1. Go to the PageSpeed Insights website
2. Enter your site’s URL
3. Look at the results
The report contains different issues regarding your website’s performance, sorted by their severity from top to bottom.

 

improving performance pagespeed insights score

 

If your score is above 85, you’re doing great. If you have anything less than that, you should improve your score by fixing the issues in the report, one-by-one, from top to bottom.

 

How to Improve PageSpeed Insights Score on WordPress sites

In the rest of this post, we will briefly discuss common PageSpeed Insights recommendations, and how to fix them on WordPress sites.

 

1. Reduce server response time

What does it mean?

Server Response Time measures the time it took your server to send the initial HTML necessary for rendering the web page.

The ideal server response time is less than 0.2 seconds. If your server response time is above that, it may mean many things, for example:

• Slow or inadequate hardware
• Inefficient code
• Slow database queries
• Other cause affecting your server performance

How to fix it?

On WordPress sites, the most efficient method to fix this issue is to install a good Caching plugin.

A few common plugins are:

WP Super Cache – a very fast and reliable caching plugin.
W3 Total Cache – a comprehensive performance plugin that can be used to improve many other performance factors.
WP Rocket – a popular caching plugin. Its main disadvantage is that it isn’t free.

 

2. Enable compression

What does it mean?

To reduce the amount of data sent between the server and the browser, HTML and files should be compressed using gzip compression. If your server is not configured to use gzip compression, PageSpeed Insights will show you this error.

How to fix it?

There are a few ways to fix this error:

Gzip can be enabled by editing the htaccess file. This method is simple, but be advised that the editing process of the htaccess file is sensitive. Here are the instructions for editing the htaccess file.
• Many hosting companies configure their servers to provide gzip compression. This solution is often the most effective one.
• Some WordPress plugins can also add gzip compressions, but with the simplicity of the two methods above, it’s advised not to bother with such plugins.

 

3. Optimize images

What does it mean?

Images take up much of the bandwidth required to display a web page. In some cases, more than half the bandwidth consists of images. Although having too many images may be a problem, Google is not expecting you to cut down on images at all. It does, however, expect you to optimize all your images:

• Upload images in the dimensions they are displayed in (pixels)
• Compress images before uploading (in Kb)

How to fix it?

To resize images, all you need is a simple editing tool such as MS paint. Just understand what are the exact dimensions an image needs to have, open the image editing tool and resize it to the correct dimensions. Then re-upload the image, and you’re good to go.

To compress an image, I recommend the tinyPNG online compression tool. It’s simple, free, and reliable.
Alternatively, you can install EWWW Image Optimizer – a free, standalone, WordPress plugin, and have it automatically optimize all the images on your website.
EWWW’s only disadvantage is that the free version uses a slightly less effective compression algorithm (lossless) than that of tinyPNG’s (lossy). However, EWWW’s paid version uses the same algorithm as tinyPNG, so if you don’t mind paying a few dollars – this is a good option.

 

4. Minify JavaScript

What does it mean?

A typical JavaScript file contains many spaces, line breaks and tabs. All these waste precious bandwidth, and Google reduces PageSpeed Insights score for ignoring this fact.

How to fix it?

Install a simple minify plugin. The most common ones are:

W3 Total Cache (also recommended above) – a comprehensive performance solution that takes care of minification in addition to other problems such as reducing server response time.
Autoptimize – a popular plugin that minifies both JavaScript and CSS.

 

5. Leverage browser caching

What does it mean?

A typical web page contains many assets: images, CSS files, JS files, etc. On most websites, many of those assets are common to all pages on the site. For example, the site’s logo and its style-sheet are usually the same on all the pages.

Servers need to specify to browsers which assets can be reused across the site. If the server is not configured to do so, PageSpeed Insights score gets reduced.

How to fix it?

There are a few methods to fix this error:

• Browser caching can be configured through the htaccess file. As with gzip (see above), this method simple, but the htaccess file is sensitive. You can find instructions for configuring htaccess to leverage browser caching here.
• Alternatively, you can talk to your hosting company and have them set it up for you. It should be a simple task for them.

There are many other recommendations in Google’s PageSpeed Insights report, but the above are among the most common and are the easiest to fix without having to involve web developers or getting into complicated configurations.

There you have it! Your own guide that, hopefully, boosted your PageSpeed Insights knowledge, and you found it useful for improving your sites’ score.
If you think other website owners would like this blog too, I’d love you to share it. Thanks!

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katyaor
About katyaor
PageSpeed Insights Score: 5 Proven Ways to Boost It for WordPress Sites