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Everyone loves faster sites. Speed is important to human visitors as well as search engines, and it’s certainly worth spending time on optimizing it. Here are a few tips that can make your multilingual site faster.

Making sure your website performs in a way that meets the expectations of your visitors isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of task. There are a number of avenues to explore and different ways to achieve optimal website performance.

Improving Your Website’s Performance Matters

Studies show that the optimal page loading speed is 3 seconds. If your page loads longer than that, you risk losing visitors. And if you lose visitors, you’re also bound to lose sales, conversions, engagement, and revenue.

Google also isn’t a fan of slow-loading websites. With the Core Web Vitals, Google measures your WordPress site’s performance and the impact it has on user experience. This includes how fast your page loads, the visual stability of it, and whether it’s responsive. It then uses this information to score your website’s performance and add it to your overall ranking in the search results.

If you run a multilingual WordPress website, it’s all the more important for you to ensure that your visitors have a smooth experience, regardless of where they are or which language they view your content in.

Get Started With Improving Your Website’s Performance

Before starting with website performance optimization, check the speed of your website. You can choose from many online testing tools, including Pingdom Tools or Google’s PageSpeed Insights. We suggest choosing one tool and sticking with it. This is because every tool measures performance differently. Switching between multiple ones could give you false measurements.

Because we’re living in mobile-first times, that’s what you should focus on when testing performance. Nowadays, having a mobile responsive website with well-optimized page speed is the key to success.

Your website will likely underperform on the first test. If this happens, try implementing some of the performance optimization tips listed below and retest.

Choose The Right Web Host

You can take every avenue to improve the performance of your WordPress website, but if you don’t have a solid website hosting provider, your efforts will be in vain. 

There are countless options out there, and it’s important to choose the one hosting service that best meets your site’s needs.

If you’re using a shared hosting plan and seeing slow loading times, consider switching over to a cloud, VPS, or dedicated hosting plan. Make sure to choose a hosting provider based on the size and popularity of your website so that it can handle increased traffic to your site.

Page Caching

By default, when a user visits any page on your website, WordPress compiles the whole page on the fly. It needs to get the content from the database, then load the images and all other resources, and put it all together. Doing this uses up processing power and calls your database every single time, making your site slower.

But if your site uses caching, that same page is stored in its complete, compiled form. WordPress can serve it as-is, without doing any additional processing.

This is why caching your pages can significantly improve the speed of your website. There are quite a few WordPress caching plugins to choose from, but some of the more popular ones include:

  • WP Rocket – a premium, all-in-one performance plugin to improve your Lighthouse performance score in a few clicks. This plugin comes packed with multiple performance optimization options, including caching, minification, file optimization, lazy loading, and more.
  • WP-Optimize – an all-in-one performance plugin. The free version caches your site, cleans your database, and optimizes your images. The premium version offers everything from lazy loading to multilingual and multi-currency compatible caching. 
  • Autoptimize – an easy to use, free WordPress optimization plugin. It specializes in optimizing your site’s HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code. This plugin also optimizes images and Google Fonts and enables lazy loading.

Optimize Your Images

Images often make up a large portion of your multilingual site’s content. Sure, they can help you attract the attention of your visitors and get them engaged with your content. But unoptimized, they’re guilty of slowing down your website.

There are three main ways of optimizing the images on your website:

  • Optimize the size of your images by compressing them using a tool like TinyPNG
  • Enable lazy-loading of images so they’re loaded only when users scroll to them
  • Make sure that your site loads images in the size optimal for the user’s device by using responsive images

Use a CDN

If you’re the owner of a multilingual site, you probably have visitors from all around the world. And if your visitor location is far from where your site is hosted, they may experience slow page loading times.

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) keeps a copy of your website in data centers all over the world. It then serves your visitors the webpage from the nearest possible location. As a result, your visitors should experience much faster page loading times.

Minify and Combine CSS and JavaScript Files

When you minify CSS and JavaScript files, you optimize their size by removing redundant symbols in the source code. You can then combine them into single bundles.

The benefit? Your resource files are now much smaller, so your server needs less time to transfer them to your browser. Also, loading one, combined file is a lot faster than loading multiple ones.

Re-Check Your Score

As you work on optimizing your site, keep analyzing your score on Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Besides the score, Google provides recommendations on how you can improve each problematic aspect. 

Take a look at the report from PageSpeed Insights below. The metrics show you exactly which elements of your website have room for improvement. The color coding makes it easier to differentiate between the areas of your page that are performing and underperforming.

Try not to zero in on the general performance score. Instead, focus on implementing the recommendations. This way, you can really improve the overall quality and speed of your website.

An example of a PageSpeed Insights report

The Impact of WPML on Your Website’s Performance

Although WPML is rich in features and gives you the option of translating your site automatically or by yourself, it doesn’t significantly impact the speed or performance of your website. The truth is, every plugin you install and any line of code you add will increase page loading times. However, over the years we’ve implemented improvements to make sure that WPML has a negligible effect on performance. 

Here are a couple of the bigger changes we’ve made:

  • Since version 4.5 of WPML, the Translation Management add-on is included in WPML’s core plugin. You don’t lose functionality, but that’s one less plugin for you to install.
  • Version 4.3 of WPML saw us completely rework the way String Translation works. This resulted in a huge improvement in page loading time.

Of course, our efforts to improve the performance of WPML are continuous. With every release and update, we test the performance of WPML and debug and optimize where needed.

Take a look at the video below, where we demonstrate how to build a website that meets Google’s Core Web Vitals. You can see that we checked the speed of our website before and after installing and activating WPML. We then re-checked the speed once we translated the content on our website.

The result? Very little impact on performance. Our product pages in secondary languages performed the same way as the ones in the default language.

A homepage in the site’s secondary language
PageSpeed Insights for the homepage in the secondary language

Recap

It’s important for your multilingual site to offer content localized for the needs of users living in different countries and speaking different languages, but it’s equally important for it to be fast.

To improve the performance of your website, look into changing hosting providers, using a caching plugin, optimizing your images, and using a CDN. Making even a few seemingly small changes can greatly improve the speed of your site.

There’s no reason for WPML to cause your site to be slow, which is also why we offer a 12-month performance guarantee. And if you run into any performance issues, we want to help, so please let us know by opening a support ticket.

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