Improve website speed with low-hanging fruits

1. Use a CDN like StackPath or Cloudflare, and host your static files in a cloud that uses a CDN, like Amazon Cloudfront.

Serving static resources from a cookieless domain decreases latency. Serve static content like images, JavaScript, and CSS from a cookieless domain, backed by a CDN.

2. Install Google PageSpeed on your server to improve web page latency and bandwidth.

Google PageSpeed will automatically apply web performance best practices to web pages and associated assets like CSS, JavaScript, and images, without requiring you to modify your existing content or workflow.

3. Use a fast web host like WP Engine or LiquidWeb, and tell your host that you want caching installed.

If you have a decent amount of traffic, you should not be on budget web hosts like Bluehost, Hostgator, or GoDaddy. You need to configure your sites to use caching. Use a plugin like W3 Total Cache if you use WordPress or consult your systems admin if you use a different platform.

4. Use a tool like EWWW Image Optimizer for WordPress, or Kraken to optimize and reduce the file size of your images.

Large images increase page load times. Reduce the file size of images such as those you use on your blog posts, and other content, logo files, and graphics.

5. Minimize round-trip times (RTTs) if you use HTTP.

If you’re technically inclined, Google has a handy manual for minimizing RTTs on HTTP sites. Here’s a quick summary: Combine all your JavaScript files into one to minimize requests. Combine images with CSS sprites. Merge all tiny background images into one and use CSS to show them. Avoid CSS @import, use a tag for each stylesheet. Minimize DNS lookups by avoiding using multiple domain names when loading a site. Minimize redirects, and use HTTP redirects instead of JavaScript, if necessary.

6. Use Gzip compression to compress your website and reduce response times.

This feature is built in to some caching extensions and plugins, like W3 Total Cache. Sometimes, you may need to set it up manually at the webserver level.

7. Add an Expires header to your .htaccess file to tell browsers how long to cache components for.

While most caching systems take care of your Expires header, you need to look into it. Implement a Never expire policy by setting a far future Expires header for static components, and use an appropriate Cache-Control header for dynamic components to help browsers with conditional requests.

8. Perform a plugin audit and disable all the plugins you don't need or use.

Many plugins require loading different CSS and JavaScript files, which can significantly slow down your site.