WordPress is undoubtedly the best platform for any website. However, just like everything else in this world, it is not perfect in every aspect and needs certain provisions in order to make a WordPress website perform faultlessly.
One of the most commonly reported problems with any WordPress website is its loading time, or in other words, it’s speed. If your website conversions are low, despite receiving a good amount of traffic, it’s probably an indication of how slow your website’s loading time maybe.
Why speed matters?
The speed of your WordPress website is directly responsible for determining its performance, in terms of attracting visitors and keeping them interested for the longest time. If a website takes ages to load, users are bound to lose interest and move on to an another website that offers the same services as yours but is much faster.
And that’s not all!
The speed of your WordPress website will also affect its ranking on search engines, further diminishing your chances of attracting more visitors and generating good conversions. Hence, it is highly essential that your WordPress website loads and performs faster than your competitors.
Now that you know why speed matters, let me show you how to speed up a WordPress website.
Choosing the right host for your WordPress website, that offers excellent speed and support, is easier said than done.
There are a number of factors that need to be considered before taking a plunge for any kind of hosting plan, no matter how attractive and economical it may seem. Plus, if you are thinking shared hosting is the best way to go, then think again!
While shared hosting is definitely easy on the pocket, it does little to improve the speed of your website. On the contrary, shared hosting is quite infamously known to slow down websites.
Thus, it is advisable to go for a host that provides an extensive range of services including domain name registration, data backup, free site transfer, Google apps integration, SSH access, unlimited disk space, multiple websites on one account option, etc. One such hosting company is SiteGround.
A theme plays a vital role in WordPress speed optimization!
A WordPress theme which is well-coded and has the right balance of images and content, will not put excessive load and will thereby, fasten the loading time of your website.
The sole idea is to keep the theme as simple, yet as effective as possible. Since this directly affects the speed of your website, more and more WordPress website themes are designed craftily to provide the best user experience to the website owners as well as the visitors.
Optimizing your database should be the next thing on your to-do list to speed up your WordPress website. However, this is also one of the most dreaded and time-consuming tasks of all, especially when doing it manually. Although MySQL is one of the best databases in the market, it suffers a major setback when it comes to regularly cleaning itself efficiently.
So what can you do about it?
These clever little plugins will help you in effortlessly optimizing and managing your entire database including post revisions, spam, drafts, tables, etc. Moreover, the WP-DB Manager will regularly set dates for optimization, so that your website performs exceptionally, always.
Caching plays a vital role in determining how fast your website loads. Hence, installing some efficient WordPress plugins related to caching, is a must if you wish to speed up your WordPress website.
One of the biggest advantages of using such caching plugins is that they support static HTML files instead of dynamic ones, thereby improving the loading speed of the pages. One such caching plugin which is loved and used by top developers is the W3 Total Cache Plugin.
This plugin is fully comprehensive, very easy to use and more importantly, is adept at caching all aspects of your website. It is specially designed to give a smooth, hassle-free user experience by improving the server performance to a great extent.
Although there are many CDN’s available in the market, CloudFlare, MaxCDN and Amazon CloudFront CDN are the most recognized ones. These CDN’s are simple to use and include an extremely user-friendly dashboard.
MaxCDN, in particular, offers some really amazing features like extra control and added security measures, API, analytics, excellent support, easy installation and smart pricing options. Even so, we would advise you to go through all the features in-depth and make an appropriate selection, accordingly.
For more details on CDN and how it can assist you in your website’s speed optimization process, check out this infographic.
If your website has a good number of images, and if they are all large in size, then your website may suffer from slow loading speed.
While it is always beneficial for a website to have more attractive images in order to keep the visitors interested, they also take up a lot of storage space, bringing the website speed down. To tackle this dilemma, you must optimize your images so they become less in size while maintaining the high resolution.
Now if you are wondering how taxing optimizing each image would be, then we have just the thing to lift your spirits!
ImageRecycle is an amazing service that provides an easy to use API that performs several functions like optimizing JPEG and PNG images, PDF and GIF’s compression, etc. And once you avail their service, the images on your website will be automatically replaced by optimized ones.
What’s more, you can also make use of TinyPng, which is another tool that helps compress PNG and JPEG images without affecting their quality.
This greatly reduces the loading time of the website as the size of the content being transferred is drastically reduced. Moreover, it’s amazingly simple to activate/enable gZIP compression.
Just add this codes to the .htaccess file in the WordPress root folder to speed up your WordPress website’s performance!
Minifying your WordPress website, in other words, means removing any extra spaces from the website coding. This will remove all the unnecessary spaces in your website’s coding and make it smaller and more convenient to download.
What’s more, instead of manually removing the spaces, you can save your time and efforts by using the Autoptimize plugin.
Note: In some cases, this may break the website if not used correctly. Be aware of what you are doing.
CSS Sprites help in reducing the number of HTTP requests for the images that are referenced on your website. They are immensely helpful in enhancing the speed of a website, as they combine and merge images into one single file, which arranges them in a grid.
CSS Sprites also help in saving more bandwidth and by doing so, improve the overall performance of the website. Although originally used by video game designers, this technique is now very commonly used by web designers to increase the speed of a website. Try SpriteGen.
As it is commonly said, too much of anything is bad. The same can be said in the case of WordPress plugins. While they certainly work wonders in improving the overall performance and practicality of the website, too many plugins also cause a reduction in its speed and in many cases, even cause it to crash.
For this reason, it is extremely important that you prioritize your plugin use. Discard the ones that are not useful and only stick to the ones that are absolutely necessary.
Ironically, you can use a special plugin called P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler), which analyses all the plugins on your website, measures their performances and tells you which plugin may be affecting your site’s loading time.
It is also essential that you regularly update all your plugins in order to keep your website up and running, efficiently.
There are a number of WordPress plugins that are adept at ensuring proper browser caching, like Hyper Cache Extended, WP Super Cache, etc, but it’s W3 Total Cache Plugin that is very commonly preferred and used. This plugin caches the data from every web page of your WordPress website so that the content doesn’t have to be dynamically loaded every time you go on to a different page. This will greatly reduce the loading time of your website and provide a better user experience.
Just add the following codes to your .htaccess file and speed up your WordPress website!
Lazy Load is a very cool WordPress plugin that is specifically designed to reduce the image and by extension, the page loading time. It optimizes the video and images on your website in a manner by which the images do not load altogether but instead load one at a time as the user scrolls down.
All you have to do is install the jQuery Image Lazy Load Plugin and your images will get optimized automatically. Another plus point of installing this plugin is that it will save considerable bandwidth as and when the users visit or browse through your website, further improving its speed.
It is an absolute bliss to use WordPress. But it has some pretty annoying features, which if left un-rectified can bring the speed of your website down.
For example, WordPress often saves all your drafts after revision, for eternity, thus taking up a good amount of storage space that gradually brings the speed of the website down. Once a draft is posted, you will probably never need it again. So why save them indefinitely?
This is where the WP Revision Control Plugin comes into the picture. It gives you more control by allowing you to set the limit to the number of revisions that can be stored for every page or post. This way you can easily save your back-end from being overburdened with unwanted post revisions and reduce your website’s loading time.
To permanently disable revisions you can add the following code to your wp-config.php file in the root of your WordPress setup.
For those who are unacquainted, Pingbacks and Trackbacks help in communicating between websites and are especially very useful to bloggers. WordPress is designed to interact with other blogs that support Pingbacks and Trackbacks, by default.
By turning it off, you can reduce the excessive load which your website receives every time a blog mentions your site, without actually affecting its backlinks. This way you can consistently maintain the traffic and speed of your WordPress website. To Disable them go to Settings > Discussion Settings
Spam is a common issue on most popular sites. However, apart from being a nuisance, spam comments take a lot of your database space which slows down your website. Thus, it is essential that you delete spam comments on a daily or at least a weekly basis from your database. However, while you can delete spam comments manually, to save time, it is advised that you make use of the Askimet plugin.
A powerful spam filtering tool, Askimet plugin automatically checks all comments and filters out spam, thereby helping moderators save hours each day. Plus it helps clear disk space which further improves your website’s speed optimization process.
WordPress gives you the option of customizing your website’s layout through widgets. However, having a lot of 3rd party elements on your site can hamper your site’s speed. Also, since most of these widgets are unlikely to get updated often, it is essential that you optimize your widgets to keep your site’s load time optimal.
You can use a plugin like Lazy Widget Loader that provides the option to load content only when needed, thereby helping you optimize your site’s speed and improving your bandwidth usage and page load time.
Responsive Web design provides an optimal viewing experience across all mobile devices, be it desktops, smartphones, tablets etc. It ensures that the layout, text, and images are re-sized based on the screen size, thereby helping you speed up your WordPress website which enhances user experience.
Also, Google prefers responsive sites, thus by switching on to a responsive web design, you are able to improve your site’s ranking on search engine, which helps boost your SEO campaign.
One of the most used design elements, Sliders are a popular addition to WordPress websites. However, if a particular slider is not well-coded, it can significantly increase your site’s page load time. Thus, to avoid this, you need to make sure that you use a faster slider plugin, one that is optimized for speed and will improve your site’s performance. One such plugin is the Soliloquy.
The best and fastest loading responsive WordPress slider, Soliloquy is lite, easy to use, well-coded, SEO optimized and comes with an intuitive user interface that helps you to create a wide-range of Sliders with just a few click.
Bandwidth theft or hotlinking is an act through which other websites directly link to your site’s content and images, thereby using resources from your server for their own websites. This puts a load on your server as other websites are using your bandwidth, which results in slow page load time.
How do you prevent this?
In order to prevent other websites from hotlinking your site’s content, you need to alter a file present in your server account. You’ll find this file in your cPanel under htaccess file, to which you need to add a code that you can generate here. However, if you are unable to this on your own, you could contact your hosting provider who will be able to help you with this.
Social sharing is a crucial marketing strategy for all websites. However, sometimes in our zest, we end up giving so many sharing options to our audience that it frustrates them as well as slows down our website. Thus, ensure that you don’t go overboard with the social media sharing, it is essential that you use a simple yet effective plugin.
One such plugin is Sharify. A responsive plugin, it lets you add a plethora of social share buttons to your WordPress website and is easy to set-up. Plus, it comes with caching that reduces server load, thereby proving faster access to content. You could also try out other lightweight plugins such as Social Media Feather and Floating Social Media Icon
Okay, so now that you have a detailed analysis on how to speed up a WordPress website, we would like to advise you to get it tested on Gtmetrix, Google PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom Tools. These fantastic websites are the best places to test the speed and performance of your website.
It will give you a detailed analysis on where your website is getting affected in terms of its loading time and also give you suggestions on how to make the necessary changes to correct any shortcomings. This way you will know exactly what to modify in order to speed up your WordPress website.
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