2.0 second LCP – How to Improve WordPress Speed

They say “the children of the shoemaker go barefoot”. This old saying is very true for a lot of digital marketing agencies and the way they maintain their own web presence. If you don’t have a dedicated guy (or guys) looking after your website to improve WordPress speed, you’re probably spending all your time and effort looking after your SEO clients, which means your own website often gets neglected.

This was (and still is) a case for White Cat SEO. I recently decided I needed to redesign the site slightly to bring it in into the 21st century so I decided why not make a half-a***d attempt at also improving the site speed. Who knew that my “half-a***d” was actually good enough to hit the LCP target!

Ok, ok, Core Web Vitals are not yet a ranking factor. At least not directly. Nevertheless, steps to improve WordPress speed always lead to improved marketing performance one way or another. Even if it’s improved conversions. Interestingly, I managed to answer a few questions about website speed optimisation.

How did you improve WordPress speed?

The first step in my WordPress speed optimisation journey involved evaluating various aspects of my website, from content to plugins. While there are numerous optimisation techniques available, I opted for an approach that required minimal effort yet delivered substantial results. I could try to pretend I was going after the 80/20 approach however to be honest I was just outright lazy. Or shall we say – realistically assessed the amount of resource available at my disposal.

Bye-bye Elementor

The cornerstone of my strategy was choosing a lightweight WordPress theme based on bootstrap. Themes play a pivotal role in website performance, influencing everything from aesthetics to functionality. After many years it was finally time to let go of Elementor. Don’t get me wrong, I still think Elementor is a lovely toolset for building WordPress websites. If I have to assess how easy it is to optimise Elementor WordPress sites for speed, I’d say it’s pretty hard. Definitely doable but I knew I didn’t have the tenth of the resource needed to handle Elementor optimisation process

The impact was immediate and impressive. The website’s pages loaded noticeably faster, providing a smoother and more enjoyable experience for visitors. This shift reinforced the importance of selecting a theme that strikes a balance between aesthetics and performance.

Can you Improve WordPress Speed without switching the theme?

In most cases no. A lightweight WordPress theme based on bootstrap makes such a big difference that if you avoid the switch-over, you’re basically messing about with marginal changes. Well, if your current LCP is around 2.5 to 3 seconds and you want to bring it below the 2.5 second mark, you might get away with it but if we’re talking about making a slow WordPress site faster, then say good-bye to your current theme.

What about moving content from Elementor to the new WordPress theme?

Yes, it was a bit of a MEH job. This was the least enjoyable part of the process. There is no way to automate it. The design widgets of Elementor are so different from your new bootstrap theme’s native widget editor that the only way to extract website content is to do manual copy/paste. At one point I got fed up and outsourced the job, so happy days.

One tip for moving content from Elementor to a new theme – before switching the theme, download your entire website to your hard drive as a static image and then go page by page and copy/paste as you browse your static site. As in, don’t attempt to copy/paste from the widgets – it will be a nightmare.

How did you approach WordPress plugins for speed optimisation?

So I did the normal clean-up job, like uninstalled the plugins we’ve not used for at least a year and upgraded the outdated plugins.

Then to complement the theme change, we incorporated two plugins that further enhanced the website’s speed and overall performance. The first, LiteSpeed Cache, proved to be a game-changer. This caching plugin not only optimised page loading but also improved server response time. LiteSpeed Cache streamlined the delivery of static content, resulting in quicker load times and reduced server load.

The second plugin in our arsenal was Converter for Media, designed to efficiently handle multimedia files and serve them in the new WEBP format. As visuals are integral to any website, optimising images and videos was crucial. Converter for Media seamlessly compressed and converted media files without compromising quality, contributing to a more streamlined and faster website.

While these plugins had a positive impact, it’s essential to note that the bulk of the speed improvement came from the initial theme switch. This emphasizes the significance of choosing a lightweight bootstrap theme that aligns with your website’s goals and content.

Do you need to use CDN for speeding up a website?

Not necessarily. Although Content Delivery Network (CDN) like CloudFlare and others, may improve site speed, we decided against using a CDN. Again, purely a resource-driven decision. Too much hassle with DNS and changes to existing systems and processes. Definitely one to consider in the future.

Do you have site speed metrics before and after optimisation?

Yes sure, have a look at the screenshots. We’re pretty chuffed.

 

GT Metrix Score before WordPress speed optimisation
GT Metrix Score before WordPress speed optimisation

 


GT Metrix Score after WordPress speed optimisation
GT Metrix Score after WordPress speed optimisation

 


Experte Lighthouse LCP Score before WordPress speed optimisation
Experte Lighthouse LCP Score before WordPress speed optimisation

 


Experte Lighthouse LCP Score after WordPress speed optimisation
Experte Lighthouse LCP Score after WordPress speed optimisation

┬áSummary of ways to Improve WordPress Speed – sorted by priority

  1. Run speed tests on GTMetrix and Experte. Review the waterfall test on GTMetrix to figure out what are the main issues slowing your site down
  2. Do a plugin review. Remove unused plugins and update the plugins that you’re going to keep
  3. Install and set up LiteSpeed Cache and Converter for Media plugins. Sometimes it’s ok to stop here but that’s very rare.
  4. If you’re using Elementor or any other heavy drag-and-drop visual design tool, swap for a more light-weigh WordPress theme, preferably one that’s built around bootstrap
  5. Re-run your speed tests now. If you’re under 2.5 seconds LCP, stop and get on with your life.
  6. If the results are still unsatisfactory, consider further steps
  7. Switch to a faster web host
  8. Implement CDN
  9. Manually review all JavaScript, CSS to find unused code

Arvid Linde

Leave a Reply

Cat Biscuits (AKA privacy cookies)

By clicking the "agree" button you're agreeing with our Privacy Policy. It is compliant with GDPR and all that jazz. This is standard stuff so unless you're in a super stealth mode, you're ok.