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How can WordPress sites be optimised to improve core web vitals?

Date: 23/02/2024

Stuart Watkins

Optimising WordPress Sites for Core Web Vitals

To optimise a WordPress site for Core Web Vitals, which are critical for user experience and SEO, you can follow these strategies:

WordPress core web vitals

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

  • Set Up Page Caching: Use caching plugins like WP Rocket to speed up server response times and reduce Time to First Byte (TTFB).
  • Optimise Images: Compress images and use modern formats like WebP. Consider using plugins like ShortPixel for on-the-fly optimisation and delivery from a CDN.
  • Minimise Render-Blocking Resources: Defer non-critical JavaScript and CSS to improve loading performance.

First Input Delay (FID)

  • Reduce JavaScript Execution: Minimize or defer JavaScript to reduce the time the browser’s main thread is busy.
  • Optimise Third-Party Scripts: Audit and optimise the loading of third-party scripts to prevent them from blocking interactivity.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

  • Specify Image Dimensions: Set explicit width and height attributes for images to prevent layout shifts.
  • Avoid Inserting Dynamic Content Above Existing Content: Ensure dynamically injected content doesn’t cause layout shifts.

Additional Tips

  • Use a Fast Hosting Provider: Server performance is crucial, so consider moving to a faster hosting provider if necessary. We use WP Engine and Kinsta
  • Avoid Heavy Page Builders: Page builders can add extra weight to your site. Opt for lightweight themes and builders.
  • Implement Lazy Loading: Delay the loading of below-the-fold images to improve initial page load times1.
  • Monitor Core Web Vitals: Regularly check your site’s performance using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and make necessary adjustments5.

Implementing these optimisations can improve your WordPress site’s performance, enhance user experience, and boost your SEO rankings.

What Are Some WordPress Plugins That Can Help Optimize Core Web Vitals

The biggest problem on most WordPress sites is too many plug-ins. They can often be installed to patch over a lack of programming knowledge. Always make sure the plug-ins are necessary. 

For instance, a hand-coded contact form will have a fraction of the code and payload of a plug-in like Contact Form 7. If the client isn’t changing the form, then it’s best to code a solution.

WordPress Plugins to Optimize Core Web Vitals

To optimise Core Web Vitals on your WordPress site, consider using the following plugins:

  1. Jetpack Boost: Created by Automattic, this plugin addresses Core Web Vitals by optimising CSS loading, deferring non-essential JavaScript, and enabling lazy image loading.
  2. WP Rocket: A caching plugin that automatically sets up page caching to reduce server response times. It also helps optimise the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) by speeding up server responses.
  3. WP Core Web Vitals: This plugin claims to outperform other page speed plugins by focusing on best practices and removing slow patterns. It includes features like real-time monitoring of Core Web Vitals, fast caching, and improved page rendering.
  4. Autoptimize: Optimizes JavaScript, CSS, and HTML files to reduce page load time. It can also help with deferring scripts and styles to minimise render-blocking resources.
  5. ShortPixel Image Optimizer or Imagify: These plugins are used for image optimisation, which is crucial for improving LCP. They compress images and can be integrated with a CDN for faster delivery.
  6. WP Super Cache: A free caching plugin that can help reduce page load times by serving cached static files.

When using these plugins, it’s important to configure them properly to ensure they are effectively improving your Core Web Vitals scores. Regularly monitor your site’s performance using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to track improvements and make necessary adjustments.

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