Even if you have the best WordPress hosting, every time you visit a WordPress webpag, WordPress makes HTTP/S requests to a server, so that it can load the page for you. If your website needs to load lots of elements to create a webpage, it will have more HTTP/S requests, which means a slower website and lower conversion rates.
Luckily, there are things you can do to reduce HTTP/S requests.
But first, here’s a crash course on what HTTP/S requests are. (Feel free to skip the next paragraph if you already know what an HTTP/S request is, and you just want to know how to reduce them.)
What are HTTP/S requests?
You might be wondering why we keep writing “HTTP/S”. It’s because whether your website deals with HTTP requests or HTTPS requests will depend on whether you’ve set up HTTPS encryption on your website by installing an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. But “HTTP requests” and “HTTPS requests” can be used interchangeably.
An HTTP/S request happens whenever your browser requests a page from a server. If a webpage contains videos, images, a style sheet, and text, every single element is a separate request. Your visitors can’t see your webpage before every single element of the webpage is delivered to the browser.
The more elements your visitors’ browser needs to download, the longer your website will take to load. If your website gets lots of traffic, your web pages will take even longer to load, because now your server has to deal with many HTTP/S requests at the same time.
Why do you need to reduce HTTP/S requests?
HTTP/S requests affect your visitors’ experience on your website. This has a snowball effect on conversions, sales, and web traffic – all ingredients your website needs to thrive.
Six ways to reduce HTTP/S requests:
1. Choose your WordPress hosting carefully
If you want to use WordPress.com, you need to find a web host that’s compatible with WordPress. Our WordPress hosting packages come equipped with MySQL and PHP support, which are both necessary for using WordPress. When you choose one of our WordPress hosting packages, you also get 24/7 access to our WordPress experts, who can walk you through any technical issues with your WordPress site. If you choose one of our managed hosting options, you get secure WordPress servers that you never have to worry about updating or configuring, because we’ll handle all the technical aspects of running your WordPress site for you!
If your web host has slow servers, your webpages will load slowly, and you’ll have to work even harder to reduce HTTP/S requests to make up for it. That’s why the most important way to reduce HTTP/S requests is to choose your WordPress hosting carefully.
2. Declutter your website
If you have lots of unnecessary plugins on your website, you’re going to have too many HTTP/S requests. So, to reduce HTTP/S requests, audit your plugins to identify which ones you need and which ones your website could do without. Remember that WordPress plugins come with many files. Every single file in every single plugin creates a separate HTTP/S request. Reduce your plugins and you’ll reduce HTTP/S requests.
3. Optimise your images and videos
Just to clarify, we’re not asking you to make a boring website that has no images or videos. But you do need to bear in mind that each image and video is a separate HTTP/S request. And to make things worse, images and videos often take longer to load than other website elements. So, start by getting rid of all the images that aren’t adding anything to your website. Once you’ve brutally cut out all the superfluous images, compress your images and videos to reduce HTTP/S requests.
4. Minify CSS and Java Script files
Minifying your files means removing unnecessary elements, including white space, comments, and formatting. The code can run without these elements, so all they do is create extra HTTP/S requests without adding any value to your website.
Combining your files means putting files together to result in fewer HTTP/S requests. If you have twenty files and you combine them into two ten-file categories, your visitors’ browsers will need to contend with two HTTP/S requests instead of twenty.
Minifying your files reduces each individual file, and combining files reduces the number of separate HTTP/S requests. When you minify and combine your files, you significantly reduce HTTP/S requests.
If you have third-party files and scripts that are constantly evolving, it might not be possible to combine your files. In this case, you need to enable asynchronous file loading. We’ll explain.
6. Use a caching plugin or CDN
Caching means storing static files on a browser so that your visitors don’t have to download the files multiple times. Instead, when you have a cache plugin, your visitors will only need to download the cached content on their first visit. This reduces future HTTP/S requests and increases your page-load speed.
Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) increases your page-load speed in a slightly different way. A CDN is a network of servers that are strategically placed all over the globe. A CDN uses caching, too, but it results in even faster page-loading speeds, because it gives your visitors cached content from whichever server is closest to them. (The closer your visitor is to a server that stores your website, the faster your website will load in their browsers.)
HTTP/S requests slow down your website, which lowers the quality of your visitors’ experience on your website, and ultimately hurts your bottom line. Reducing your HTTP/S requests is a simple, efficient way to invest in your website. Cutting out unnecessary bloat will speed up your website and improve your efficiency.