People want fast results online, and studies have shown they generally give up on websites when they do not load quickly enough. WordPress, for all its advantages as a web platform, can be a heavy resource user and slow to load if proper precautions are not taken. Therefore, to attract and keep visitors, those using WordPress need to monitor loading speeds and take steps to speed up sites when they are too slow.
Check and analyse. There are various tools for checking how fast a site loads in comparison with other sites. In addition, these tools will often find problems and give suggestions on what can be done to improve performance. The following are some free tools that can do the job.
How to speed up your WordPress site
There are a number of ways by which you can make your site load faster. Consider these suggestions:
Choose reliable hosting
Web hosting, including more highly rated and reliable services, is very reasonably priced. It is not a good idea to skimp on hosting that may be slow. In addition, while WordPress can run almost anywhere, the settings on some webhosts work better than others. WordPress hosing has more information about this topic.
Although using this service will require changing your DNS, the service is free and well worth the few minutes it takes to set it up. CloudFlare caches sites in its distribution network around the world. This keeps files closer to visitors and thus serves them faster, increasing page load speeds. It also provides security to sites by keeping track of and blocking spam bots and other malicious scripts, which has the added benefit of saving bandwidth.
Rebuild the database
Like an old version of Windows, a WordPress site can slow down over time. Creating a new database and importing everything into it, as is described in easy WordPress repair, gives a site a fresh start. It will lighten the database, eliminate errors and will generally make a site run more smoothly overall.
Go for the right theme
Themes can make or break your WordPress installation so you need to choose one that doesn’t use too many images, tables, frames and static HTML. For a speedier site, consider choosing a stylishly simple theme and tweak it to meet your needs.
If you want to try some free WordPress themes, you may want to check out the default Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven WordPress themes or the Minimalist, Thrilling, Suburbia and Swift themes. On the other hand, if you prefer more unique and easily customizable themes that offer more advanced features, some premium WordPress themes to consider include ClickBump (recently tested as one of the fastest) Thesis (by DIY Themes), NewsPress (by WooThemes) and Genesis (by StudioPress).
Optimize your site
To enhance your loading speed, you need to focus on optimizing the homepage, the database and the images on your site. Here is how you do it:
How to optimizing sites
There are a number of ways optimizing pages to speed up site loading time. You can:
- Use excerpts instead of full posts
- Limit the number of posts shown on pages
- Minimize the number of plugins: This is very important as it is easy to start installing too many plugins. Every plugin adds to the site’s load and is a potential security risk, so choose carefully.
Having unnecessary information can clog your database, create extra load and slow down your site considerably. To prevent this from happening, you should consider installing WP-Optimize or any similar plugins to simplify and even automate the task of removing auto draft posts, unapproved comments and spam comments. You may, likewise, want to check out WP-DBManager, WP Database Optimizer and WP Clean Fix to keep databases running smoothly.
Delete previous revisions
WordPress will save previous versions of articles, in case they need to be restored. Revision Control allows you to set how many of these revisions to keep so that unneeded revisions will not clutter up databases.
Optimizing your images
While using appropriate images can be one of the keys to a more successful blog, using too many images or using uncompressed images can considerably slow down your loading time. Some steps to take to reduce image load include:
- Save the images using the proper settings. Images that only use a few colors should be saved as .GIF or .PNG while those that uses more colors should be saved as .JPG files. If you are using an image editor, choose ‘save for the web’ to automatically find the best settings without sacrificing image quality.
- Use online tools to do the job. There are a number of online tools and applications that can automatically reduce the size of images with virtually no reduction in quality. Some of the top ones to consider using are Smush.it, RIOT, PNGOUT or Dynamic Drive’s Online Image Optimizer.
- Use WP plugins to optimize images. There are a number of free plugins that can help you optimize images are they are loaded on sites. Consider using WP-Smush.it, CW Image Optimizer or EWWW Image Optimizer to do the trick.
Use a caching plugin
Caching plugins can speed up sites and reduce server load by creating and storing static files to give to visitors as cached pages.
- W3TC enhances site performance by caching the site, reducing download times and providing transparent content delivery network integration with Cloudflare.
- WP Super Cache, on the other hand, speeds up your site by creating static HTML files from your blog and serving them to users. This will definitely speed up your site since it wouldn’t have to process PHP scripts for every visitor.
You may, likewise, want to check out Hyper Cache Extended, DB Cache Reloaded Fix, Quick Cache and WP-Cache to find a caching plugin that will best suit your needs.
Hotlinking (also known as inline linking or remote linking) can be considered as a form of bandwidth theft. This occurs when people use inline links to display an image hosted in your site instead of saving it on their own websites. When this happens, your website will experience increased server load, and this will ultimately slow down your loading time.
To prevent such things from happening, you can put a piece of code in your root .htaccess file, disable hotlinking directly from your hosting dashboard or install a WordPress plugin such as WP Hotlink or Configurable Hotlink Protection to do the job.
Set default avatar to “blank”
Gravatars (see avatar WordPress) are cool, but they will increase load times. It is best to have them enabled, but there is no point in giving a default gravatar to those who do not have one (this requires an external call to Gravatar). Therefore, it set the default gravatar to “blank”.
Turn pingbacks and trackbacks off. Turning your pingback and trackback settings off will not affect the backlinks to your site but will reduce load.
Remember, you only have a very small window of opportunity to impress and encourage your visitors to stay around the first time they land on your site. Having quick loading times is sure to make a difference in the critical few seconds.
Additionally, the importance of loading speed has become even more prominent since search engines have incorporated it into their ranking algorithms. Therefore, having faster page loads is critical for both search engines and visitors and is one of the most worthwhile things to do for a website.