WordPress is the go-to platform right now and will be in 2019, but if it has one sure weakness, it can be a little slow.
If you don’t take necessary precautions, you could end up with a sluggish site, and that won’t bode well for keeping your subscribers and customers but also your search engine rankings.
In this article, we look briefly at the ways I’ve found to speed up WordPress on a consistent basis.
Why does WordPress Speed Matter?
When engaging a new customer, you have a tiny window of opportunity to get their attention and keep it.
These statistics are the thing of nightmares for website owners:
Bing and Google both agree on load up time should take no more than two seconds and Bing went on to release some further stats on the effect of a delay in responsiveness resulting in:
- User satisfaction down 3.8 per cent
- Lost Revenue increased 4.3%
- Decrease in clicks by 4.3 per cent
More and more users are becoming less tolerant to slow sites, they have so much information to choose from they can be gone in a flash and with Google’s algorithm basing a lot of decisions around site speed you have no excuse but to improve it. If it’s slow for sure you are losing business; everything is against you.
Here are some solutions.
Speeding Up Your WordPress
These following 10 tips are not in any order of precedence, these are various guises I have used to get results, and a further note is that you do not need to use every one of them, try a few and see the difference.
Choosing a Good Host
Stating the obvious, but you can’t be too careful with your hosting. When your business is new, a shared host might seem like a decent idea, and you see ‘Unlimited page views’ you will be forgiven in saying ‘What can go wrong?’ however, it comes at a cost, very slow speed and cases of downtime are relatively frequent, especially in peak traffic times.
So if your posts are popular with browsers, you are heading down the wrong path with shared hosting.
The WordPress host I don’t hesitate to recommend is:
✓ WP Engine managed WordPress hosting
Sites with these guys are supremely fast, and the back-end is very user-friendly. Also, throw customer service into the equation, and you have a premium package. I have learned the hard way in the past, so the fact they have good support is a bonus point.
Start with a Robust Framework
The Twenty Fifteen framework (the default WP theme) is surprisingly fast.
The reason for this is that they keep the ‘crux’ simple; in comparison with many bloated frameworks out there with useless features that will likely never be used slowing you down.
My experience has been the Thesis Theme Framework has surpassed the basic WordPress themes in being comfortably easier to customise.
The framework will not slow you down with plug-ins and continual custom edits. If you start with this, you are off to a fast start.
Use an Effective Plugin (caching)
WordPress plugins are usually useful, and some of the top ones come under ‘caching’ as they dramatically change your load speed and the bonus is all of the ones on wordpress.org are free and simplistic.
My personal favourite is the W3 Total Cache. This is the only plugin I use for this. It comes with every feature and is easy to install and use. Once installed and activated your page loads faster with the elements cached.
Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Many people’s favourite big blogs out there make use of a Content Delivery Network.
If you are engaged in online marketing with WordPress make note that some of the blogs like Copyblogger use CDN’s.
I use the Max CDN on my sites, the pricing is reasonable, and it comes with an easy-to-use dashboard with tutorials on how to set it up, and it takes no more than a few minutes.
Free-CDN is available that apparently does the same, although I haven’t tested it.
Optimising your Images (automatically)
There are various image enhancers and optimisers out there. Yahoo has its own called Smush. It squashes the size of a file while maintaining the quality.
However not many of us have the time on our hands to do this individually, but fortunately, there is a free plugin available called WP-Smushlt. What this does is take onboard each image that you upload an automatically optimises them, so get installing this one straight away.
Optimising your Homepage for Fast Loading Speed
This is more of a collective on what you can do to optimise your homepage overall, as this is the first impression a user has of your site so it should be a focal point. When you use a creative digital agency for your web design you want your content to create an engaging website but don’t overlook the following:
- Show excerpts NOT full posts
- Reduce posts on the page (have a maximum of 5-6)
- Remove unused sharing widgets (only to be used in posts)
- Inactive plugins should be removed, remember engaging content is better than tonnes of widgets.
- Clean, clear design with good colours, fonts and subtle use of white space will help you not only to look good but load faster.
Optimising your WordPress Database
Optimising is an overused word in this article, but I can’t overstate its importance.
Optimising, in general, can be a long-winded tedious affair, or you can use the WP-Optimize plugin.
This plugin cleans house; it optimises the database by reducing the overhead of:
Another recommendation is the WP-DB Manager plugin which organises and schedules specific dates for database optimisation.
Turn off all your Pingbacks and Trackbacks
WordPress by default regularly interacts with various blogs equipped with pingbacks and trackbacks
So upon you being mentioned on another blog, your site is notified, many people believe that turning this off destroys backlinks to the site, it doesn’t just stop the setting that is generating extra work for your website.
To go more in-depth with this search for ‘Word Press Pingbacks, Trackbacks and Linkbacks explanation’.
Adding LazyLoad to Images
Lazyload is the streamlining process to only have images above the folder load (explanation: only the images visible in the browser of the visitor) then upon the user scrolling down, other images then load, just prior to them becoming visible.
This has more than one benefit as not only does it speed up your page by not needing to load up so much front-end data, it saves bandwidth for the user who doesn’t scroll to the bottom of the page.
To have this automatically, install jQuery Image Lazy Load plugin.
Adjust Your Gravatar Images
Don’t get this confused with aesthetics this is all about load-up speed. I use this purely due to it improving page loads by it not having a Gravatar logo or other images present.
Some blogs even disable them on the site and for others. It’s at your discretion what you want to do but know that it will benefit your site speed if you do the following:
Set the default image (find it in ‘discussion’, under your settings tab on the WordPress dashboard) to nothing, just a blank space with no image.
With Google’s algorithm focused on User Experience (UX), it’s time to measure up how fast your site is and whether it’s getting punished accordingly if it is.
This does not mean you start again, follow getting rid of unnecessary plugins and adding the right ones. Keeping your site fast and straightforward will stand you in good stead for rankings and quality traffic that will spend time on your site – don’t forget your call-to-action buttons once it is optimised so that you can optimise on your paying customers too!
James Row is a passionate blogger and professional software developer who started his career in website development in Melbourne, plays an active role in web designs and looks to keep you informed about the industry.