How to Speedup WordPress Like a Pro
Just like a spanking new computer, WordPress site feels incredibly swift and will load pages extremely fast when it’s new. However after uploading posts and images on it, you start noticing some seriously annoying lag time.
The lag can be caused by the accumulation of clutter which slows down the performance of your WordPress site. A slow loading website has been found to have a close correlation between page load time and bounce rate, search engine performance, visitor retention, and sales. In fact, Google is now using page load speed as one of the ranking factors in its algorithm.
In most cases, if a WordPress site’s page load time is less than two seconds is said to be excellent, up to four seconds is acceptable. However, anything above five seconds will impact negatively on search engine rankings and visitors experience.
The top three page speed testing tools I like:
Obviously, you want to check your speed from multiple sources and get an average of your times. Also, I check during peak Internet traffic times (early morning, lunch and just after 5 p.m.) and off-peak. And, then on different days of the week. Saturday and Sunday can yield different results as less people are at work.
The following tips on how to speed up WordPress will help make the pages load faster.
1. Choose A FAST Reliable Host
- 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
- 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
- A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.
Invest in a good host and hosting plan as your web server is the foundation and footing for having a site that loads fast.
Settling for free hosts can be precarious as they are normally unreliable and quite slow. Also, shared servers might seem a bargain, but they come at another cost of having frequent downtime due to high traffic and incredibly slow site speed. Several websites are sharing the same server. Think about this.
The dreaded “Reduce Server Response Time” warning. Have you checked your speed on Google Page Insights and seen this familiar verbiage:
Yep, that’s your shared environment fighting for bandwidth and server resources.
If you are planning to publish viral content, you’ll be killing yourself by running your WordPress site on a shared hosting. For best performance, invest in a reliable web host such as WP Engine. Their uptime is phenomenal and their support is bullet-proof. We moved our website over seamlessly.
|Before WP Engine||After WP Engine|
2. Have A Solid Framework/Theme
This may come as a surprise to some, but the default WP theme, also called Twenty Sixteen framework, is quite lightweight and speedy. Why is this so? WP theme has a simple but professional framework as compared to other “heavily-built” themes that have a sophisticated framework and tons of features; some of which you’ll never use. All these complications create “heavy” code that will drastically kill your page load speeds. The themes might seem appealing because of the social icons, dynamic elements, and widgets, but you get these at the expense of speed.
If you have to invest in a premium theme, go for WordPress themes that are not loaded with tons of features and widgets. My Theme Shop has the best features of all the themes available, but with lightweight coding in mind. These themes are built for speed!
Combining WP Engine and a screaming fast premium theme from My Theme Shop has alone cut our page load speeds in half! These are the two most major considerations in speeding up WordPress. The rest of the options below will certainly help, but nothing will make a more drastic change than upgrading to a super-fast and optimized WordPress hosting platform like WP Engine with a lightweight theme coded for speed like the ones within the My Theme Shop portfolio.
3. Optimize The Images And Display Them Correctly
Depending on the image format, most images contain a lot of extraneous metadata that can increase the size of your file. The majority of the people fail to compress and optimize their images before uploading them to their site, making the size of the file increase drastically, thereby causing lags in page load time.
Another cardinal sin committed by inexperienced web designers is to upload images far bigger than what is appropriate for the design. Some even upload them directly off of their digital cameras and resize them using the WordPress image functionality to display smaller versions of the images. This still leaves huge images within your WordPress database that will slow down your website. The database needs to be just as clean as your code. Less elements in a database means quicker response on the database queries.
With free optimizing applications such as EWWW at our disposal, there’s no excuse not to optimize and resize your images. We tested several and came down to two of the best plug-ins. WP Smush and EWWW Image Optimizer.
While WP Smush did a solid job with compression, EWWW came with a few better features.
Not only does EWWW use two different technologies to compress, they also have a feature that will compress MORE than just the images within your WordPress media library. You can feed it the path of your template images (many of which can be quite heavy) and their software will compress that also. Additionally, there are smart compression delay timers to not overburden your server with bulk compressions. This outweighs WP Smush along with the fact that the WP Smush bulk compression will require babysitting without upgrading. Not so with EWWW.
4. Use Content Delivery Networks
This isn’t a feature available with shared hosting platforms, but comes packaged with the Pro version of WP Engine mentioned above. While WP Engine has their own, the top two best CDN services are MaxCDN and KeyCDN.
From this table, you can see how KeyCDN is quite a bit more feasible in the long run.
5. Optimize Your Homepage
This is not a one-time thing but a few easy operations that you can do to ensure that your homepage doesn’t take ages to load. Your homepage is probably the most important part of your site because it makes the first impression of how your site is; it is your landing page for visitors. You can do several things to make it load faster;
- Reduce the posts on the homepage
- Display excerpts instead of the full posts
- Remove unnecessary sharing widgets from your homepage
- Keep your widgets in minimal; visitors are here for content, not to see 5,000 widgets on the homepage
- Remove inactive plugins
- Remove inactive themes
Overall, a clean and simple homepage design will not only help your page look great but load quicker as well.
6. Minify CSS and JS files
If you run your WordPress site through Google PageSpeed Insight tool, you’ll probably be notified to minimize the size of your JS and CSS files. This requires a reduction of the number of JS and CSS calls as well as the size of those files. This will help improve your site loading time considerably.
Also, you can use the guides provided by Google to do some manual fixing. If not, there are plugins that will help you minify these files; the most popular being the Autoptimize– this will help optimize the JS, CSS, and even HTML of your site.
7. Enable GZIP Compression
Compressing files on your computer can save significant disk space. Likewise, for the web, one can use GZIP compression. This will dramatically reduce the time it takes to access your pages by reducing the bandwidth usage. GZIP compresses files on your site, so that whenever a visitor tries to access content on your site; their browsers will first be required to unzip the website.
To Enable GZIP compression, you can simply add the following lines to your .HTAccess file:
mod_gzip_item_include file .(html?|txt|css|js|php|pl)$
mod_gzip_item_include handler ^cgi-script$
mod_gzip_item_include mime ^text/.*
mod_gzip_item_exclude mime ^image/.*
mod_gzip_item_exclude rspheader ^Content-Encoding:.*gzip.*
This process helps to bring down bandwidth usage to a significant extent. There are plugins that can help with GZIP compression.
8. Deactivate Or Uninstall Unwanted Plugins
Keeping unwanted plugins on your WordPress site will add a lot of junk to your web files. Besides, it’ll also increase your backup files and put an overwhelming amount of load on your site server resources while the backup files are being generated.
Therefore, it’s better to deactivate or uninstall the plugins that you don’t use, and also, make use of third-party services for scheduling or automating tasks (such as sharing your latest posts to social sites).
Zapier or IFTTT are two web services that help in reducing the burden on your WordPress website and server resources by automating various tasks.
Then, the task is to reduce the number of plugins to those absolutely necesary.
Additionally, just like themes, some plugins simply aren’t as efficient with their coding than others. This simply depends on the design of the plugin itself. So, how do you check the performance of a plugin? Well, I’m glad you asked. We highly recommend P3 Performance Profiler:
9. Disable Trackbacks And Pingbacks
Trackbacks and pingbacks are two chief WordPress components that alert you whenever your page or blog receives a link. This might sound useful, but you also have other services such as Google Webmaster Tools to check the links to your website.
Keeping trackbacks and pingbacks on can strain your server resources considerably because it keeps generating requests from your WordPress every time anyone tries to link up to your site. This functionality is commonly abused when targeting sites with DDoS attacks.
You can turn them off in WP-ADMIN>Settings> Discussions. Deselect “Allow link notifications from other blogs”. This will speed up your WordPress site significantly.
10. Use Caching
Some of the best and most effective WordPress plugins fall under the caching category. This is because they directly impact on the page loads time. The best part with caching plugins is that all of them are provided at a cost of free on WP.org and they’re easy to use. Again, this isn’t needed with WP Engine!
The most popular plugin is the W3 Total Cache; it has all the features that you may need and is incredibly easy to install and use. You’ll just install and activate it. This caching plugin helps your page load faster as all the elements are cached.
11. Adjust Gravatar Images
Most of the people set their default Gravatar image on the WordPress site to nothing while others disable it throughout the site. Disabling or setting it to nothing helps to improve the page loads as you won’t be required to look for Gravatar logo or some other designs that will add elements on your site and cause more external server requests.
You can do either of the above to increase the load time of your site as well.
12. Disable Leeching And Hotlinking of Your Content
Hotlinking is a method of bandwidth “theft “and occurs when other sites direct links to the images on your site for their posts thereby making your server load progressively high.
This can add up as more people “scrape” your content or your site, especially images, become more popular. This normally happens when you create custom images for your website on a regular basis.
13. Add Lazyload To Your Site Images
Lazyload is the process of allowing only the images “above the fold” to load; only the images which are visible in the visitor’s browser window without scrolling down. As the visitor scrolls down, the other images begin to load before they come into view.
This will save both the page load time and the bandwidth as less data will be loaded for users who don’t want to scroll to the bottom of your pages.
14. Enable Keep Alive
HTTP Keep Alive is the message that’s sent between the web server and the visitor’s machine requesting for permission to download a particular file. By enabling Keep Alive, the client machine will be able to download several files without having to ask for permission every time, thereby saving bandwidth.
To enable keep-alive, just edit your .HTAccess file (be sure to make a backup first and KNOW how to restore) and put in the following:
<ifModule mod_headers.c> Header set Connection keep-alive </ifModule>
15. Replace PHP with Static HTML
PHP is great for reducing the need to fill in the same information several times and for making a site efficient. However, retrieving information through PHP over-utilizes the server resources and therefore, it should be replaced with Static HTML where appropriate- where it doesn’t save time.
16. Minimize The External Scripts
Using external scripts on the web pages adds chunks of data to your total page load time. Therefore, it’s best to keep the external scripts to a minimum. Include only the essentials such as commenting systems like Disqus and tracking tools like Google Analytics.
17. Clean Up The Site Database
The best thing about WordPress is that it often auto-saves everything, but the disadvantage is that the database will be filled with chunks of post revisions, pingbacks, unapproved comments, trackbacks, and trashed items quickly.
To create an auto-clean on your site, install a WP-Optimize plugin- it routinely cleans out your site database trash, thereby keeping it filled with the necessities only. Of course backup your database first before introducing any changes to avoid losing important data.
Install > Activate and enjoy!
How to SpeedUp WordPress: THE BOTTOM LINE
The biggest advantage of making your pages load faster is that it will create a great experience for the visitors on your site. This will apply to both the PCs and mobile devices.
Besides, it will improve your site ranking in the Search Engine Result Pages. After all, faster site loading speed on the visitor’s side and reduced bandwidth usage on your host will benefit you in the short and long run.
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