Improve the mobile speed of your WordPress site

If you’ve ever run a PageSpeed or other speed test for the mobile version of your site, you’ve undoubtedly been horrified by the low speed and score compared to the desktop version  of your site.

In this post I’ll explain:

  • Why mobile performance is typically worse
  • The primary cause of slow mobile pages
  • How to create mobile-specific versions of your pages
  • How to remove unnecessary files from your mobile pages

Optimizing for mobile does take a bit of extra effort since site owners are usually “retrofitting” their sites for mobile performance.

If you are starting a new site, it will be easier if you consider mobile performance from the start, and make it a priority.

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What’s Making Our Websites Slow? We Are!

This is the blog post that accompanies a talk I gave at WordCamp Seattle in 2019. You can see the slides here. The video of the talk is up on WordPress.tv

Additionally, the HTTP Archive Web Almanac was published around the same time so I’ve also interspersed some of the insights from that report since they dovetail really nicely.

Providing excellent context for this post, the CMS chapter shows how sites built with a Content Management System (and WordPress sites comprise almost 75% of those in the report) tend to:

  • be more bloated with heavier page weights
  • use more 3rd party resources
  • use heavier images

Additionally it reported that WordPress sites tend to have slower performance metrics.

Now this is not really the fault of WordPress itself, it’s really due to what we site owners have done.

While it’s possible to build bloated pages and use techniques to make them seem fast, that shouldn’t be the goal. Let’s just build lighter pages to begin with!

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How to avoid enormous network payloads in WordPress

If you are using Google PageSpeed Insights to test your site, you’ll see this “avoid enormous network payloads” warning if the total size of your page is more than 1.6MB.

It sounds technical, but this is actually one of the recommendations that you as the site owner have the most control over. Unlike some PageSpeed recommendations, you can fix this one!

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Google PageSpeed Insights – A Guide for WordPress Users

Google PageSpeed Insights Guide for WordPress Users

Listen, let’s keep it real, PageSpeed Insights is a tool best used by developers. Its intentions are good but it’s not targeted at the average WordPress site owner. Even with the recent introduction of some WordPress-specific messaging, many aspects of the report are too technical to be clearly actionable.

In this guide I’ll try to translate what PageSpeed is talking about and let you know which factors you can control, as a WordPress site owner, and which you can’t.

The basic principles that PageSpeed Insights is trying to communicate are:

  • Keep your pages light and simple.
  • Avoid unnecessary fanciness.
  • Consider mobile users, particularly those who pay for every byte of data.

These are solid principles but PageSpeed communicates them in somewhat obscure ways.

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How Will Google’s Core Web Vitals Affect Your WordPress Site?

Core Web Vitals are the 3 key metrics that Google believes indicate healthy performance for your web site.

Whether you agree with their selection of metrics or not, soon you will not really have a choice.

Unlike their previous PageSpeed metrics, which did not impact ranking at all, Core Web Vitals will eventually be used as a ranking signal.

Today, we’re building on this work and providing an early look at an upcoming Search ranking change that incorporates these page experience metrics. We will introduce a new signal that combines Core Web Vitals with our existing signals for page experience to provide a holistic picture of the quality of a user’s experience on a web page.

https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2020/05/evaluating-page-experience.html
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