When was the last time you checked the speed of your website? Did you know that load time factors into your search engine ranking? A snappy website not only keeps visitors engaged, but perhaps more importantly ranks well with the Google search algorithm. Bottom line is you can’t afford to have a sluggish site, so here are our tips on how to speed up your WordPress blog in 7 steps.
First port of call is to check out your current performance by using a tool such as Pingdom. It will not only give you a score in comparison with other tested sites, but a simple breakdown of performance highlighting areas where you can improve. The following tips are good practices for optimising your current websites.
There is a certain amount of irony to most of the suggested steps as one of the biggest strains on WordPress load times are often the excessive use of plugins. Some plugins are essential, but redundant plugins should be removed. It’s also worth checking how your site performs without certain plugins. By deaactivating plugins you can test if some are particularly taxing and could be swapped out for a more lightweight solution. When possible use plugins made specifically for your theme or framework, as they will typically use less calls to additional scripts and stylesheets than third party plugins. Making sure that you are running the latest version of WordPress and your plugins are up to date is key to keeping things running smoothly.
Using a plugin like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache will generate static HTML files from your dynamic WordPress blog, meaning your pages do not need to be needlessly generated over and over again. Both plugins are simple to use with no real need to change settings in order to experience better load times during periods of heightened traffic.
Clear Spam Comments
If you have commenting and trackbacks enabled on your site its imperative that you manage your incoming comments and pingbacks. Make it a habit to regularly empty your spam to ensure that your database doesn’t get bogged down with thousands of spam comments (which unfortunately doesn’t take long!).
Optimise the Database
For those of you who feel comfortable doing so, you can optimise your database manually with access to phpMyAdmin. Simply select all the tables and choose “repair” and then repeat this time choosing “optimize”. You can also scan for outdated tables that may be a remnant from previously removed plugins. For the novices you can always use plugins such as WP-Optimize, WP-DB Manager, or Optimize-DB to do the job for you, and avoid mucking around in phpMyAdmin.
Old post revisions for active bloggers can soon pile up and slow down the site. One way to manage these stockpiles is to use the Better Delete Revision plugin, which enables you to remove these unwanted revisions from pages and posts. Note: if you use WP-Optimize for your database that can also take care of revisions.
Hotlinking of images is an ever-present problem that can drain your bandwidth as other websites scrape your site for images. To prevent those pesky thief’s from piggybacking on your bandwidth there are various solutions using your .htaccess file. Or if you don’t want to get your hands dirty with code you can simply employ a plugin such as Hotlink Protection to do the job for you.
Images can often be the biggest burden on load time, so consider your size and format choices when adding images. JPG or PNG-24 is preferred for high resolution pictures, but for simple logos or artwork consider using an 8-bit PNG to reduce load time. One plugin that automatically optimises images at the point of upload is WP-Smushit. It does so in several lossless ways including stripping meta data and compressing the images.
Code and design play a big role in your sites performance, and it’s important to ask questions such as:
- Could you use CSS instead of images?
- Could you show excerpts instead of full posts?
- Do you have inline CSS styling which could be stripped out in favour of leaner external CSS?
- Do you have multiple stylesheets which could be merged?
These are also points to consider when looking for a solid framework or theme that will help you speed up your WordPress blog.
How do your sites perform? Have you discovered any great hacks or plugins to help speed up your WordPress blog? We’d love to hear!