WordPress website speed depends on many factors. Everything from your posts and numbers of files to your overall theme choice can affect your site speed. Overall, speed is about efficiency and focus. When your website is running slow – even by seconds – it potentially loses visitors and cuts into your bottom line. However, you can improve slow load times and overall performance issues with a few simple steps. Here’s a list of 10 quick fixes for slow WordPress sites.
1. Use a High-Quality WordPress Theme
With so many WordPress themes on the market, how do you know which one to choose? When considering your website’s overall loading speed, the best theme might not be the fanciest option. In fact, a smaller theme can often increase the speed of your site considerably.
Big, gaudy themes have a wide range of complicated tools and elements—most of which you will never use but still affect the site’s performance. All this fat will slow down the loading time of your WordPress site. Skinny is faster. Choose a theme that has enough versatility to suit your needs, but not all the bells and whistles that you’ll likely never use. Compare the file sizes of any themes that you are considering. Less is usually better.
2. Integrate a Caching Plugin
Server rendering time (aka time to first byte) is one of the more common issues that can slow websites, but when your site is cached properly it can reduce your website’s loading and response time quite substantially. WordPress.org offers many free caching plugins that are easy to use and very effective in maximizing your site’s efficiency. One such is W3 Total Cache. It has over one million installs and a 4.5-star rating that spans over 3000 reviews. In addition, this plugin will work to optimize your site’s SEO—just another amazing benefit.
Here’s a quick screenshot showing how your stats change when a caching plugin is enabled. Note biggest improvement is on TTFB, which affects all other loading times. In this situation it was simply enabled – configuring it optimally will yield even better results.
3. Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
4. Optimize and Resize Images
Images can take up a lot of bandwidth based on their size and resolution quality. However, you can greatly reduce the size of your files and images, without any quality degradation through a number of free tools and plugins. If you are only dealing with a few images, TinyPng.com is a great online tool that will reduce your image’s size. If you are handling a many images on your WordPress website, WPSmushIt is a great free plugin that will automatically optimize and reduce your image size. The image optimization plugins will optimize all images you’ve ever uploaded into your wordpress site, but usually not the theme’s images, so those may still need to be done manually.
5. Optimize Homepage for Speed
When your homepage is too resource-heavy, it presents an initial roadblock to your site’s overall speed. Optimizing your homepage consists of several things:
- Show post excerpts, as opposed to full posts. You can also install a featured post plugin, which will minimize the resource dependency of your full posts.
- Show between 3 and 6 posts, not 10 or more.
- Remove any social share widgets from home screen. Keep sharing to individual posts.
Search engines look at your homepage load time as a critical SEO factor, so ensuring your home is fast may help you rank for additional search terms.
6. Use LazyLoad for Images
A LazyLoad function acts to delay the loading of images which are not currently viewable on a user’s screen. If you have multiple large images on a scrollable page, the lazy loader delays those images from loading until the viewer scrolls to them. It is a simple concept but extremely useful, and cuts down on the initial rendering of your site drastically.
You can try implementing this LazyLoad script, or simply use one of the many lazy loading plugins available in the wordpress plugin directory.
7. Clean Up Post Revision Storage
WordPress has a wonderful but obnoxious quality of being a hoarder. It will save every post revision that you make as an independent version that you can return to forever and ever. This is unnecessary once you’ve published your post and are no longer working on drafts. Revision Control is a brilliant plugin that keeps the maximum number of revisions that WordPress will store to two or three instead of infinite.
8. Disable Pingbacks/Trackbacks
When another online publication mentions your WordPress site somewhere else on the internet, it will automatically generate a ping or traceback. This is to inform your website that your content was mentioned, shared, etc. Many fine this extraneous, and by disabling this feature, you will reduce the resource usage of your site by having it load less.
9. Optimize WordPress Database
Unless you are a database wizard, you will want to install a database optimization plugin to your WordPress website. They work to optimize things like spam, post revisions, drafts and more. Two such plugins that are free and easy to use, include WP-Optimize, and WP-DB Manager. Simply install the plugin from WordPress.org and forget about it.
10. Replace PHP with HTML (Static)
A new trend is to use WordPress to generate your content dynamically, but then use a service to host it statically. Ie, what your visitors actually see is not WordPress, but the saved output of wordpress as a static HTML file. This is similar to using a caching plugin, but eliminates WordPress code from being run entirely whenever someone accesses your site.
There are hosting services that handle this for your, such as Shifter, as well as some wordpress plugins that will send your content to a static server, such as WP Static HTML Output. Be on the lookout for some future case studies on these services – we’re planning on benchmarking before and after comparisons.
11. Monitor your WordPress Site Speed
Okay, I know we said 10 tips but we’d be lacking if we didn’t suggest you enable WordPress site speed monitoring. Using a service that regularly checks your site speed is important for sites powered by WordPress, as they are constantly changing. WordPress updates happen almost daily, as well as your plugins always asking for upgrades. If you’re auto-updating, then something could be updated that slows your site down – and the only way to know about it is if you have your speed testing automated. Signup for a free account with MachMetrics to do this.
Keeping WordPress Simple
If you try any of these 10 easy ways to speed up your WordPress website, chances are you will see considerable improvements. Just remember to keep it simple – less is usually more when it comes to WordPress. The best WordPress websites are the ones that tell a story and draw in viewers so take it easy on elements that carry heavy resource dependency and over-complicated WordPress themes. When your WordPress is slow, it’s time to simplify things.
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