This guide will show you some simple things you can do in speeding up WordPress.
Many people won’t wait even 10 seconds for your pages to load. On top of that Google now explicitly states that website speed is part of their algorithm.
And if you’re wondering if all this is worth it for your business or e-commerce blog, read what Kissmetrics have to say about how loading time affects your bottom line.
If you want more people reading your content and recommending it to others, implement as many of these points as you can and watch your engagement rise and your bounce rate drop.
Test your sites current speed
Before we start with the tips, it’s a good idea to test your site first using these tools:
Keep a record of your rating and run these tests again afterwards to see the effect of your work.
If you use all these tips you’re sure to see a massive difference!
Speeding up WordPress
1. Upgrade your hosting service.
In the beginning most people buy shared hosting. This means that many other customers are on the same server.
A cheap hosting company will have slow servers and try to cram as many people onto them as they can. This means slow loading for both you and you readers.
2. Use a well coded theme.
Free themes can be a bit of a minefield not just for being slow but for containing malware and malicious code. A good theme will be feature-rich, easy to use as well as fast. Have a look at my top recommended premium theme providers.
3. Prepare your images for the web before you upload them.
Many people add images to their site directly from their camera or hard drive without processing them at all. This creates large image files that make your pages slow to load, and filenames such as DCS1234.jpg making it impossible to find what you need in the media library.
4. Use a caching plugin.
WordPress is a dynamic system that builds HTML pages from a combination of complex scripting and database calls to your server. This all takes time and can present a lot of work for an already overworked server.
What a caching plugin does is build those pages once, and then serve them up to visitors instead, making your website load much faster.
5. Optimize your home page.
It stands to reason that the more elements on a page the slower it will load. No matter how well optimized your site is, if it has 200 images it will take too long.
How you can make your homepage load faster:
- If your blog is your homepage use summaries instead of the full articles. This is better for useability as well.
- If your blog is your homepage, navigate to Settings >> Reading and reduce the number after Blog pages show at most.
- Reduce clutter in your sidebar – remove anything that doesn’t serve your call to action or social proof.
- Make sure that the images you’re using are thumbnails not large images that have been scaled down.
6. Keep your WordPress database optimized.
The database is stored on your server and after many months of use can get clogged up with post revisions, spam comments and other stuff.
Install the WP-Optimize plugin and run it every week to keep your database running lean and fast.
After activating the plugin navigate to WP-Optimize, tick the options shown below and click the Process button.
You can also remove unapproved comments and auto-drafts, just be sure that you don’t need them.
7. Host your RSS feed with an external service.
If you have a lot of RSS subscribers, using the feed that WordPress generates can use up quite a bit of bandwidth. Using a service like Feedburner not only moves that work to Googles servers it also makes it more universal and allows you to use their free email newsletter feature as well.
Not sure what RSS is? Read more here.
8. Delete unused plugins and themes.
Every plugin and theme you have installed has to be scanned by the WordPress system both on the front and back-end. Deleting all the unused plugins and themes saves that bandwidth for other more important things.
To delete themes, navigate to Appearance >> Themes and click the Delete link. To get rid of unused plugins go to Plugins >> Installed Plugins and delete as required. Click the Inactive link to speed up the process.
9. Turn off pingbacks and trackbacks.
Pingbacks and trackbacks are notifications your blog receives from other sites linking to you.The problem is everytime your blog sends out or receives these background communications it chews up bandwidth.
You can safely turn them off and not suffer any negative SEO effects at all. More about WordPress Pingbacks, Trackbacks and Linkbacks here.
You can disable them by going to Settings >> Discussion and unchecking Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) .
10. Use the Photon CDN module within Jetpack.
Photon is a part of the Jetpack suite of plugins that hosts your images on the WordPress servers, freeing up bandwidth and speeding up your site.
First you will need to install and activate Jetpack, then navigate to Jetpack in your dashboard and make sure the Photon module is activated.
Now all the images on your site will be hosted on the WP cloud for free!
11. Make the default Avatar blank.
This is another background activity that can be reduced without hurting the functionality of your site.
Go to Settings >> Discussion, scroll down to the Default Avatar section, select Blank and click the Save Changes button.
If you have Jetpack comments installed this blank Avatar will rarely be used and we just saved a little more bandwidth.
12. Install Akismet to filter out your spam comments.
The bandwidth that is sucked up from processing spam comments can be saved by installing the best spam plugin – Akismet.
13. Keep WordPress updated.
As the core software is improved the developers create more efficient and secure code. Well supported plugins are the same. Staying updated means your site will be more secure and fast.
You can check for updates from Dashboard >> Updates.
NOTE: Make sure you’re backed up before making any changes you are unsure of.
Now re-test your WordPress site’s speed and see how it compares to the previous score. You should see a huge difference.
This will make your server and your readers happy! 🙂
Questions? Let us know in the comments below.