Today’s consumer doesn’t have a very long attention span, especially when it comes to the internet. It sounds like something your grandfather would say about “kids today,” doesn’t it? But it’s true. Not only does the rising generation, those “millennials” we’ve been hearing so much about, have a shorter average attention span than the previous generation, most consumers on the internet expect immediate accessibility.

According to this study conducted by KISSmetrics, if a website takes more than three seconds to load, 40% of visitors will abandon it. Just a one second delay can mean 7% fewer conversions.

“But my WordPress site isn’t an ecommerce site, so conversions and load time don’t matter, do they?” you ask, honestly, because if you’re not selling something, does load time actually matter? It does matter. It matters for every website—every website that wants visitors, anyway. If your WordPress takes more than three seconds to load, you are missing out on 40% of your site visitors. That’s an outrageous fraction to just let fall by the wayside. And those are people that actually clicked on your link when they found it. They already took an action that indicated interest in your website.

Not to get too psychological, but in truth, this boils down to the consumer mindset online. The internet should be speedy and convenient, and a website that takes too long to load is neither of those things. A slow website annoys a user to the point that she won’t have anything to do with a website that takes too long to load.

Again, this isn’t just for those whose WordPress is used for ecommerce or as a webpage for a brick-and-mortar business. It’s for anyone who wants more traffic, but most of all, more engaged traffic. Bloggers and businesswomen alike can benefit from having better WordPress speed. It’s a better experience for your site visitors and it also means a better position on Google. That search algorithm loves a website that loads speedily.

Yes, Google actually takes this metric (and a related one: bounce rate) into account when assigning your webpage a rank among relevant search results. Why? Because Google knows that those using its search services are looking for the best website that answers their search query and sites that load quickly are more valuable to searchers than sites that load slowly. They know that if they want to continue being the top dog when it comes to search queries, they have to bring their users websites that not just answer their questions, but meet their “internet expectations.” If the link takes too long to load, the user will just click away and try a different link—making the slow-loading link less useful than others, even if it contains better information.

The consensus is in: slow websites are the worst. And though it provides a full gauntlet of other benefits, it’s hard to deny that WordPress has a problem with speed. Not the street drug, just how long it takes to load your website. How can you make your WordPress faster? WordPress support may have some answers for you, but when it comes to really improving your website speed, you have to take matters into your own hands. If that sounds daunting because you’ve never looked under your website’s hood, don’t worry. We’re going to walk you through it. Here are ten easy ways to improve your WordPress speed, and yes, these are things you can do, even if you’re not code savvy.

  1. Cut back on saved drafts of blogs or content. WordPress does this to be helpful. It holds on to drafts of your blogs, even after you published the final version. Even if you have a relatively short blog at this point, it’s still holding on to a lot of information it doesn’t actually need to store. While one or two saved drafts might do the trick, if you’re like most bloggers, you probably save far more often than once or twice during a post, especially a long post. Why would you need your very first save file when you have more recent ones? Luckily, there are plugins that will handle this problem for you, like Revision Control.
  1. Find a better host. If you plan on getting a lot of page traffic, you need to find a good host for your website. Many people start off with a shared host because of the low price and “perks” that are offered when signing up, but in reality, this only leads to a slow website, especially when you actually start getting lots of traffic.Even if your blog isn’t exactly BuzzFeed yet, if you share your host with other websites that are getting even moderate traffic, everyone’s traffic is going to be squeezing through the same small hole, and that means everyone gets crummy load speed. It probably also means that your website is going to go down during high traffic times. You know, those times when you absolutely do not want your website to go down? That’s when your WordPress is most likely to fail you when you have it hosted on a cheap host.
  1. Get a plugin that optimizes image loading. If you have any images on your site, they may be the major causes of slow load speed. The solution is not just to delete all images from your website—it’s to use a plugin that only makes the most relevant images load when a site visitor arrives on your website. In short, a plugin like LazyLoad will tell your website to only load the pictures that your visitor is actually going to see, when she’s going to see them. That means it will load all the pictures that show up when the visitor first clicks in, and loads the rest as she scrolls down to view them.
  1. Get your images to load faster. One of the reasons that it takes so long for images to load is their immense file size. Even if the image is relatively small on your website, the image itself is probably quite large, and that means your website has to work harder to load it. If you don’t need an image’s file size to be gigantic and you don’t want to manually reduce the size of every file you use, there’s WP-SmushIt to do it for you automatically, every time you upload an image. It doesn’t reduce the quality of the image—just the size of the file.
  1. Make a few simple changes to your homepage. Most of the time, your homepage is going to be the page that your site visitors land on, whether that homepage is for an ecommerce site or for a blog. That means it needs to be optimized to load quickly, no matter its purpose. Here are a few simple changes you can make to really improve the load speed of your homepage (or any page, for that matter):
    • Use “Read More” breaks instead of displaying full posts
    • Cut down on the length of the page by limiting the number of posts per page (to five to seven)
    • Get rid of plugins and widgets that you no longer use or that clutter up the page
    • Pick a standard template and keep it minimal—it makes your webpage look clean and it reduces load time
  1. Prevent others from stealing or borrowing your images and content. As your page becomes more and more popular, it’s more and more likely that someone will come along and try to take your images and content. While many will link back to your website, they’ll also put the burden of loading the images on their own websites back on your WordPress. That’s extra work for your website, which it doesn’t need to be doing. In your .htaccess file, add this code:
    RewriteEngine on
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^https://(www\.)?mydomain.com/.*$ [NC]
    RewriteRule \.(gif|jpg|js|css)$ - [F]

    Replace “mydomain.com” with your actual domain name, and it should create a failed request when someone attempts to hotlink an image. If you’re having trouble getting it to work properly or are wary of delving into your page’s code, try as for WordPress help. There are also plugins that while they don’t prevent hotlinking, allow you to substitute a different picture of your choosing for the one that they are attempting to use.
  1. Cache your website with a plugin. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are a lot of plugins that help to improve WordPress speed. Finding a plugin that caches your website is a great way to seriously improve your speed. Once activated, it caches your page, so that your page elements load more quickly, instead of loading from scratch every time someone accesses your page.
  1. Pick a better theme. We already covered this a little bit when discussing how to make your homepage load faster, but we’re going to cover it again. With hundreds of thousands of themes to choose from, many promising ultimate customizability and versatility, it’s already difficult to pick a theme. How do you pick a better theme? Many themes, especially those that are supposed to be easy to customize, come with a lot of extra code that just slows down your site. Always check and see how quickly the theme’s demo page loads. Keep in mind that if it lags a little with nothing extra added to the page, it’s going to lag a lot with real images and content added in.
  1. Find better social media plugins. Social media plugins are necessary for any blogger that wants their readers to share content across all social media. Unfortunately, social media plugins can seriously delay WordPress speed. The best way to deal with this problem is to find a social media plugin that doesn’t actually load the buttons until a user wants to click on one. Instead of loading them all as the page loads (which is what slows down your site), a plugin like Digg Digg will wait to load the specific button your visitor wants to use until they hover over the button.
  1. Consider a content delivery network (CDN). The might be more of an intermediate level change to make, rather than a change many beginners might be willing to make, but if you have or plan on having an active blog, a CDN can be a great way to improve load speeds, no matter where in the world your readers come from. Essentially, a content delivery network takes your website’s static files (from JavaScript to images) and serves the files through servers closer to your visitors. This reduces the strain on your server, making WordPress speed faster all around. There are both paid services that will help you with this and free plugins like Free-CDN.

Making all or just a few of these changes is sure to improve your website’s load speed, which means more visitors, a lower bounce rate (that’s the ratio of people who click onto your website and immediately click away to the number of people that click on and stay on), and higher engagement. And that’s really all you want as a website owner, right? More visitors and more engagement. We can’t overemphasize the importance of having a website with fast load speeds—it’s good for everything from search engine page rankings to improving customer experience, and it’s not that hard to achieve!

If you’re wary of making any changes to your website, don’t be afraid to ask for WordPress help or to check out WordPress support services. If you’ve made these changes and still aren’t seeing improved load speeds, you might need more advanced techniques, like HTTP request optimization or replacing your PHP with static HTML.