There is nothing worse than going to a website and having it take forever for load. If it doesn’t load in under 3 seconds, most people leave the site straight away. That doesn’t give you much time. Some people give WordPress a bad rep by saying it loads so slowly or it uses too many plugins and will never load fast. They’re wrong. With WordPress properly configured, a well-developed theme and good hosting, WordPress sites load as fast as any other. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you along the way.
The first thing to consider is, is your hosting good enough? If your site is on a shared server, it means you’re sharing the server with hundreds of other websites. If one of those sites suddenly got a lot of traffic, it will use more resources and affect the speed of your website. Due to the popularity of WordPress, many hosting providers have started offering Managed WordPress Hosting. These are hosting platforms that are optimised for WordPress and usually come with a host of other benefits including caching and security benefits just for WordPress.
There are probably thousands of WordPress Themes ready-made that you can download and install that come with a whole host of functions and features. The problem is, it’s unlikely you’re going to be using them all. That doesn’t stop the theme still loading all of these functions and slowing down your site. If you’re going to use a ready-made theme, be careful when choosing and look for one that is lightweight and fast loading. The same goes for when creating a theme and you’re looking for a starter template. Make sure it’s fast and lightweight.
One of the easiest and quickest options to implement that has great results. Each time you load a page of your site, WordPress builds the page for you, which involves a lot of different processes and database queries. Caching can skip a lot of this. Caching creates a copy of a page when it’s first loaded. So when people request the same page over and over, instead of it being created each time, the cached copy is loaded instead. There are various plugins that can implement this for you, my favourite being W3 Total Cache.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN). A CDN is a group of servers distributed throughout the world that work together to deliver content fast. If you have the site being delivered from one location, a user located far away will see the site load slower than someone living closer. By offering multiple servers located closer to a user, the website would load quicker. CDN’s can handle more traffic, reducing the load on your server, reduce bandwidth consumption and improve availability. Cloudflare is one of the best for WordPress.
Optimise images. Images can make or break your website. On one hand, they make your website attractive and engage users, on the other, if you have multiple images over 500KB or MB’s in size, it’ll dramatically slow your site. What good is a pretty picture if it doesn’t load in time for you to see it? When adding images to your site, you need to make sure they are compressed and in the right format. You can even try next generation image formats like JPEG 2000 and WebP to load even quicker.
Optimise the WordPress database. Almost every time you update a page or post, WordPress will create a revision of that pages so you can go back to it and restore any changes, this is stored in the database. If your comment forms get spammed, it all goes in the database. Old tags, categories, deleted content and plugin information, it all goes in the database and can slow it down. To improve your database performance, you should clean it up and remove anything you don’t need anymore. There are various plugins that can help you do this. One I tend to use is WP Optimize, which is really simple to use.
Disable hotlinking. You may have seen this from my tips and tricks to improve security. This is when someone takes an image from your site and put it on their own website. So, the source of your file is on your server, meaning they’re using your bandwidth. If multiple images are being shown on multiple sites, it can affect the speed on your own website and slow it down.
Turn off pingbacks and trackbacks. These are link notifications that keep track of when other sites link to your content and appear in the comments section of your posts. Bots can abuse these functions by inserting spam links on your site, all of which get stored in your database. Disabling both of these will help prevent your database getting clogged up and slowing you down. It also keeps malicious spam from appearing in your comments.
Minify JS/CSS files. When we load a web page, we download the JS and CSS files from the server. Being some of the most important files for a website, essentially styling a page and giving it it’s functionality, they’re pretty important. If these don’t load fast a user is going to see a real mess. Minifying these files gets rid of any comments and extra spaces reducing the file size and increasing load time.
GZIP Compression can save bandwidth and speed up your site. GZIP Compression compresses your files into a smaller file, similar to how we zip files on a computer. Instead of a browser downloading the full file size from a server, we can have the server provide zipped, compressed versions that are smaller so load quicker.
These are just a few tips and tricks. If you really want your WordPress website to lightning fast, with one of our maintenance plans, we’ll be able to implement all of the above and dig deeper into your theme to really speed things up.
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