WooCommerce Performance Optimization: Guide & Best Plugin

The success of your WooCommerce store is directly impacted by your site’s performance. With a fast and user-friendly site, you’ll enjoy better search rankings, happier customers, and — most importantly — increased sales.

Over 70% of consumers admit that page speed directly impacts their willingness to purchase from a retailer. Multiple studies show that many eCommerce sites are missing out on sales due to slow site speeds. We’re sure you don’t want to be one of them. 

While there are many techniques that can be used to improve site speed and performance, it can be challenging to quickly get to the root of the problem. If you’re at a loss for where to begin, a plugin like Jetpack Boost can identify areas of improvement and automatically resolve many of the major issues affecting your site’s performance. 

In this article, you’ll learn about how site performance affects your sales, what you can do to improve it, and how a tool like Jetpack Boost can help.

How slow site performance affects your business 

Long load times mean fewer sales 

Slow site speed spells disaster for any eCommerce website. Studies show that 57% of your customers will leave if they need to wait more than three seconds for the page to load. Of that number, 80% won’t be back for a second look. 

The appeal of shopping online for most people is that it’s quick and painless. If you make that process slow and painful, you can bet your entire inventory that they’ll take their hard-earned money to another online store with faster load times. 

A recent study showed that an improvement of 0.1s in load time increased the number of page views, conversion rates, and average order value. In fact, this slight change in site speed moved customers to spend nearly 10% more. While changes in your site speed don’t need to be drastic, even subtle improvements can increase revenue for your WooCommerce store. 

Slow sites lead to unhappy customers

Waiting for what seems like ages for a website to load provides users with a poor experience. The statistics we’ve mentioned back this up, but we know you’ve felt it in your own online shopping experiences. Take a second and think about all the times you’ve clicked away from a website prematurely because it took too long to load. You’ve likely done it so many times that to count them all would be impossible. 

Not only were you dissatisfied with the brand, but you likely never went back to see if their website sped up. As a result, no matter how great their products were, your experience probably led you to lose trust in that brand. 

If you’re a loyal customer of a particular site, you may have a bit more patience, but a slow site can turn away even the most faithful of repeat shoppers. If you’re browsing a large number of products, imagine the frustration of having to wait even five seconds for each additional webpage to load. 

Our friends over at Ericsson Mobility revealed that the stress users feel when waiting for a webpage to load is comparable to watching a horror movie alone or their anxiety when taking a math test.

If that’s not motivation to speed up site performance, we don’t know what is.  

Sluggish performance results in poor online rankings

There’s no getting around it; slow sites don’t rank as well on search engines. Search engines value user experience because they want to provide the most relevant, user-friendly results. 

One Google study found that bounce rates increase 32% when load times change from one to three seconds. If the load time is five seconds, you’ll see this move up to 90%. With numbers like these, it’s no wonder that better-performing websites with lower bounce rates are rewarded by search engines and receive higher rankings. 

Even if you think that your site is pretty speedy, there’s no such thing as too fast in the world of page speed. With every bit of time you shave off your site speed, you increase the likelihood of your site ranking higher in search results. 

Google Core Web Vitals prioritizes higher performing websites in search results

In 2020, Google announced updates to their ranking system that they’ve continued to roll out throughout 2021. The primary purpose of this rollout is to improve the experience of all online users, but you may be wondering how these changes will affect the standing of your website in search results. 

One of Google’s updates that may affect your search rankings is the Core Web Vitals project. These metrics identify components of a website like loading time, interactivity, and visual stability to measure the user’s experience. 

Google’s Core Web Vitals report uses three elements when evaluating a user’s experience on a webpage: 

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This element is related to the visitor’s perceived load time. It measures the time it takes for a webpage to load its most prominent visible feature. Anywhere between zero seconds to 2.5 seconds is an excellent score, while anything more than four seconds means your website could use some improvement in this area. 
  • First Input Delay (FID): The first input delay measures your site’s interactivity and how long it takes to respond to a visitor’s command. It looks at the delay between the visitor’s click on a button or link on your website and how long it takes your website to react. For your website to offer a good user experience, it needs to have an FID score of 100ms or less. If you score above 300ms, your FID rating is less than stellar and you’ll need to make changes. 
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): CLS measures the stability of your webpages as they load. You don’t want elements on your website to shift too much while loading. If your CLS ranking is 0.1 or lower, pat yourself on the back. If it’s higher than 0.25, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. 

Learn more about how core web vitals affect SEO.

As of mid-June 2021, Google announced that it would include the scores of these Core Web Vitals as a metric in its ranking system. In August 2021, they released an additional update (currently only for mobile URLs) called Page Experience.

Websites that offer exceptional user and page experiences, according to Google’s Core Web Vitals and Page Experience reports, will now get preference in online rankings. 

If you’ve already added your site to Google Search Console, you can view your site’s metrics under Core Web Vitals and review areas of your site that need improvement.

web vitals chart in Google
This site clearly needs to improve its Core Web Vitals!

If you’re building a new website, aim to create it with these Core Web Vitals at the forefront of your design. Look for a solid hosting plan that offers great website speed and fits your traffic requirements. Ensure it can handle traffic surges like those that happen on Black Friday and Cyber Monday to avoid slow load times. 

Avoid overly complex website themes that can cause your loading to bottleneck or result in compromised site functionality. Focus instead on keeping your theme lightweight, optimizing your images for size, and reducing the number of plugins you’re using to the minimum that your site requires. These efforts will help your Core Web Vitals reports, improve the overall speed of your website, and help you climb higher in Google’s rankings. 

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed about how you’re going to improve your FID score or lower your CLS numbers, you don’t need to worry too much. This is where Jetpack Boost comes in to give you improved Core Web Vitals on WordPress without needing to know all the technical jargon.  

How Jetpack Boost will improve your site’s performance 

So you’ve determined that your website could use a bit of help with its performance. While other plugins can help you improve your site speed metrics, they often require some technical knowledge to get the most out of them. Use Jetpack Boost to improve your website issues without a costly developer.

Jetpack Boost will:

  1. Check your site performance: With minimal effort on your part, Jetpack Boost gives you a helpful report and makes powerful suggestions for your site speed.
  2. Improve your SEO: Improvements to your site performance are directly related to your SEO. Watch your website rise in online rankings and get more traffic. 
  3. Speed up your site: Faster websites equal more sales and conversions. Use Boost’s simple dashboard and tools to make your website lightning fast.  

Benefits of Jetpack Boost 

Simple interface — no developer needed

One of the most enticing features of Jetpack Boost is that it doesn’t require prior knowledge. You don’t have to be a developer to learn the ropes of the plugin or install it on your site. The interface is straightforward, and you’ll see how much faster your website is through the measurement tool. 

Easy to understand site performance reports 

With these reports, you can quickly find out how your site is performing. Jetpack Boost gives your site performance a score from A to F. You’ll get an initial score when it’s first installed and an updated score after implementing any optimizations. 

Skip the complicated configurations 

Avoid the time-consuming, complicated configurations that come with other speed plugins. These plugins can break your site, be super confusing, or even slow things down if set up incorrectly. You can just turn on Jetpack Boost, and it works without the need for any additional code or technical knowledge.

How to use Jetpack Boost

Jetpack Boost’s interface is simple and easy to use. Let’s look at a couple of sections:

Overall score — performance score

The overall performance score is the average score of your website from both desktop and mobile screens. 

To get a better idea of how the score is averaged, let’s say that your Mobile score is 54, while your Desktop score is 91. 54 + 91 = 145. 145 / 2 = 72.5. So your overall performance score would be a C. While it’s not terrible, your site’s performance on mobile could use some improvements. 

Improvement modules

There are six improvement modules you can toggle on and off:

  • Critical CSS: Bundles vital styles that apply to content at the top of the page.
  • Compress CSS: Compresses and combines CSS files to reduce the amount of data transferred. 
  • Defer Non-Essential Javascript: Helps your site load faster by running non-essential JavaScript after the page has loaded.
  • Compress Javascript: Compresses and combines JavaScript files to reduce the amount of data transferred.
  • Lazy Image Loading: Loads images as they appear on the screen instead of all at once. 
  • Enable Jetpack CDN: Serves images and other static files from Jetpack’s global network of servers.

That’s it! There’s nothing else for you to customize, making this plugin blissfully easy to navigate. 

Jetpack Boost key features

To get the most out of the Jetpack Boost plugin, you’ll need to activate at least three of the improvement modules. Here’s a brief overview of each module and what they accomplish on your site. 

Optimize CSS Structure with Critical CSS

Cascading style sheets, or CSS, are instructions that tell a browser how to style a webpage. CSS controls things like font colors and image sizes.

Since CSS is a render-blocking resource, a webpage can’t be displayed until it’s completely downloaded and available to the browser. 

To combat this, Jetpack Boost utilizes a technique called Critical CSS. This technique works by extracting the CSS required for displaying content to the part of the site that is visible without scrolling. As a result, the page can now load faster without needing to load the entire CSS file.

By eliminating the render-blocking resource, Jetpack Boost helps to improve user experience on your site as well as your Core Web Vitals scores. 

Defer non-essential JavaScript 

This setting in Jetpack Boost defers non-essential JavaScript until after the page loads. Boost prioritizes visual information and loads it first while leaving less critical JavaScript for later. As a visitor moves through the website, other webpage elements will load in the background. This gives visitors the feeling of faster load times, which can help in lowering bounce rates. 

Lazy image loading 

Lazy image loading enables your site’s pages to display without downloading every image on the webpage at once. Only the images visible to the user will load, and as they scroll, additional images will appear. This feature of Boost decreases bandwidth while improving your site speed.

Use a content delivery network

As part of Jetpack Boost, you gain access to Jetpack’s free CDN for WordPress. This utilizes a global network of servers so that, no matter where a visitor is located, images and other heavy pieces of content are loaded from a nearby location. It’s free, doesn’t limit the number of files you can serve, and was made for WordPress and WordPress only. The result? You get an easy-to-use, reliable CDN that speeds up your site without draining your wallet or time. 

It’s one of the most important parts of improving site performance and is included as part of Jetpack Boost.

How to install Jetpack Boost 

Setting up the Jetpack Boost plugin can be done in five easy steps:

  1. Navigate to the WordPress plugin directory. 
  2. Search for the Jetpack Boost plugin. 
  3. Install Jetpack Boost from the plugin directory and activate it.
  4. Go to the Jetpack Boost section of your website’s WordPress admin area. 
  5. Turn on the features you want to try out on your website and watch your site performance change for the better.  

Performance you can count on 

The world around us moves fast, but your eCommerce site should move faster. Whether you’re looking to run a small store or begin an empire, WooCommerce makes it easy for you to get started with excellent hosting choices and themes that won’t bog down your site speed. 

To run a successful store, you’ll need to keep up with your site’s performance and speed. While there are dozens of techniques you can use to improve your WooCommerce store performance, it can be tricky to identify every issue. 

Jetpack Boost’s simple interface makes improving your Core Web Vitals simple. This easy-to-use plugin helps you improve your SEO and site rankings, speed up your site, and increase conversions.

By taking the technical jargon out of site performance, Jetpack Boost pinpoints site problems and fixes them in the time it takes you to eat lunch (maybe less!). 

Download Jetpack Boost to improve your WooCommerce site’s performance and give your business a leg up over the competition.

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Rob Pugh profile
Rob Pugh

Rob is the Marketing Lead for Jetpack. He has worked in marketing and product development for more than 15 years, primarily at Automattic, Mailchimp, and UPS. Since receiving a Master of Science in Marketing Degree from Johns Hopkins University, he’s focused on delivering products that delight people and solve real problems.

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