Google has made two major announcements in 2018 that have had a significant impact on website owners. The first was that their long-planned mobile-first search index was finally deployed on August 1. The second announcement let web developers know that Google now uses page speed as a significant ranking factor.

What does this mean to you? As a WordPress user, it means you need to focus a lot more attention on mobile users and speed. Mobile users are taking over the internet bit by bit. What’s more, they don’t like waiting. Your WordPress site needs to be as fast as possible if you hope to compete in the mobile era.

Mobility and responsiveness are not big issues anymore for WordPress. Theme developers now develop for mobile as a matter of course. But speed is still an issue in many cases. Here are five ways you can speed up your WordPress site:

1. Use a Lightweight Theme

There are two kinds of WordPress themes: free and premium. Most free themes are light on the features for obvious reasons. The opposite is also true. Developers tend to load premium themes with a variety of special features designed to sell. But the more features, the more bloated the theme. And bloated themes are slower.

There is a reason WordPress comes out-of-the-box with just a few simple themes. Default themes are fast because they are lightweight. That being said, you can find premium WordPress themes that are fast as well. Make sure to do your research before committing to one.

2. Limit Plugins

WordPress users can add functionality to their websites by installing plugins. This is not a bad concept in theory, but it can be quite problematic in practice. It is best to limit plugins to only what is absolutely necessary to achieve basic functionality. Every plugin slows down WordPress, so the fewer the better.

3. Use Image Compression

Compressing images speeds up page load times by reducing the amount of data web browsers have to deal with. Today, WordPress users can use smart compression to optimize their images. Most graphics manipulation tools allow compressing images before uploading. There are WordPress plugins that can apply compression to images already in your media library (but be aware of point number 2 above).

4. Don’t Allow Trackbacks and Pingbacks

Both trackbacks and pingbacks are tools used for tracking website performance. But they are outdated tools we no longer need in the era of Google analytics. Don’t use them on your site. Disabling both will speed up page load times by eliminating the unnecessary traffic they create.

5. Implement Caching

If you are going to use plugins, one kind of plugin you should definitely make use of is one that caches your pages and posts. Caching speeds up load times by storing copies of pages and posts as static files that can be served directly to a browser. Only when a page or post changes does the WordPress database have to be accessed. Not having to access the database makes pages and posts faster.

It is now more important than ever to make your WordPress site as fast as possible. The five tips listed here should get you pointed in the right direction. Once you nail them down, feel free to browse this site or elsewhere and look for other strategies that you can implement.