Slow and steady definitely does not win the race when it comes to blogs and websites. A slow site can be frustrating for readers and can kill you in search engine rankings. Today we are going to take a look at ten tips that will dramatically speed up your WordPress site. If you are on Blogger, take a look at this post for tips that apply to you.
Testing Site Speed
Before you start tinkering around with your site speed, it’s best to have a starting point so you can see how your site performs before and after making changes. GT Metrix is a great tool for analyzing the performance of your site.
Using GT Metrix, here’s a look at how Designer Blogs performed before applying these tips:
Our page speed score had a grade A (91%), which is great, but our YSlow score (a measurement for site performance) was looking pretty lousy with a C grade (77%). Actually a 77% is respectable considering that the average YSlow score is 69%, but we still wanted to get that score up. Page load time was 2.5 seconds with a total of 44 requests.
Here’s a look at how our scores improved after applying the tips in this post:
It was fun to see that improvements were made pretty much all across the board, especially with the YSlow score. So let’s jump into these tips so you can start seeing amazing improvements in your site speed as well!
Tip #1: Use a Great WebHost
The hosting provider you choose plays a huge role in website speed. Of course we are huge fans of BlueHost around here (learn how to set up a site on BlueHost here). If you are currently using another webhost, click here for instructions on how to get moved over to BlueHost. If you find that your site gets more traffic than a shared server can handle, you can always upgrade in the future to a dedicated server for faster speed and even better site performance.
Tip #2: Use a Solid Framework & Theme
We use the Genesis framework in all of our WordPress designs because of its speed and customizability. Genesis comes free with our WordPress designs and is one of the most solid frameworks out there. We also use Premium StudioPress themes in our custom designs because they are light, fast, and cleanly coded. Some frameworks and themes come with far more features than you’ll ever need or use. Sticking with the simplicity of Genesis and StudioPress is the best way to keep things clean and running lightning quick.
Tip #3: Delete Post Revisions
There is nothing worse than a site cluttered with too many copies of post revisions, trashed items, and spam comments. Who needs all of that? I love the WP-Optimize plugin because you can set it to routinely clean up your database so it’s not weighed down by all that garbage. Once it’s installed, just go to Settings > Optimize Database to configure the settings you want. You’ll love how tidy your site feels after using this amazing plugin.
Tip #4: Optimize Images
We’ve been talking a lot lately about how important it is to optimize and resize your images before uploading them to your blog. Uploading images in their original size is a surefire way to slow your site down. The larger the images you upload, the longer your site will take to load, so remember to resize, resize, resize! For detailed instructions on how to resize images before uploading them to your site, review tip #3 in this post.
If you haven’t been resizing your images prior to now and you don’t want to take the time to go back through and resize every single image, you can use an amazing plugin called WP-SmushIt which will reduce the file sizes of your images automatically. It’s great because you can run all of your images through the plugin and it will compress them all into smaller file sizes. Best of all, your images will still retain their same quality.
Tip #5: Identify Plugins that are Slowing Your Site Down
An easy way to determine which plugins may be slowing your site down is to install and run the P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler). It shows you exactly which plugins are impacting your page load time. Once you determine which plugins are slowing down your website, you can then decide whether or not those plugins are worth keeping. If not, get rid of them. Be sure to delete the P3 plugin after you are finished with it, because leaving it activated will slow your site down. As a general rule it’s best to keep the number of plugins on your site to under 20. Remember that less is more when it comes to plugins and to choose plugins wisely.
Tip #6: Compress Your Site
Compressing your site using Gzip is a great way to speed up your site. Gzip zips up all of your website files so they are easier for your server to transmit them to your readers browsers, hence decreasing page load time. There’s really no drawback to installing Gzip and the increase in speed can be pretty significant. You can install Gzip using one of two methods:
1. Install using the GZip Ninja Speed Compression plugin. Install it and then make sure you have the check mark checked to activate it.
2. If you are comfortable digging into the backend of your site, then log into your hosting account and go to your file manager. Find the
.htaccess file in the root directory of your server and simply add this code to it:
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
Make sure that after you install Gzip in one of the above two ways that you check to make sure it’s working by running Check Gzip Compression.
Tip #7: Use a Good Caching Plugin
Every time your website is loaded by a user, all sorts of mechanisms are taking place on the back end to allow your user to view it. Caching is essentially like taking a picture of your site when your visitors land on it so that when they return, your website can simply load the “picture” of the website instead of having to load everything on the back end again, which makes your site load time lightning fast for returning visitors.
It’s essential when installing a caching plugin that you follow the installation instructions exactly or you’ll end up doing your site far more harm than good. WP Total Cache is one of the best caching plugins out there, but again, please be certain to follow the installation instructions carefully. If you find you need to uninstall the W3 Total Cache plugin, this tutorial can help you uninstall it successfully without crashing your site. You’ll be amazed at the dramatic improvements you’ll see in site speed and YSlow score after installing this plugin…but again I cannot stress enough how important it is to install it correctly. WP Total Cache is a very powerful and advanced plugin, so if you are a novice, it would probably be best to skip this tip. You’ll still see dramatic improvements in site speed by following the other 9 tips.
Tip #8: Optimize Your Database
WordPress uses a database to store everything about your site–posts, pages, comments, plugins, settings, etc. It’s all there in your database. Every time someone loads your site, the database has to be read. If the database is packed to the brim then the information can take a long time to load causing a slow loading site. WP-DBManager plugin is a great plugin that will help you easily back up, repair, and optimize your database, which in turn will speed up your site.
Tip #9: Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Image Source: KeyCDN
Tip #10: Declutter Your Site
Remember that less is always more when it comes to your site. Rid your site of anything that isn’t absolutely essential. Some final ways to declutter and speed up your site:
- remove any inactive plugins and widgets that you don’t need/use
- limit the number of posts shown on your blog
- show post excerpts/summaries instead of the full post
- simplify your sidebar by removing widgets that aren’t absolutely necessary
- limit the number of ads, pop-ups, etc.
- remember that your users visit your site for content and/or products, not for the millions of widgets and ads you have on your sidebar. Don’t let your widgets and ads overshadow your content.
Keep it simple!
We’d love to hear about the improvements you’ve seen on your site after applying these tips. Share them with us in the comments!