WordPress is a great content management system, but it can be slow if it’s not properly optimized. There are ways to properly optimize WordPress to make it load faster. Speed and performance optimizations are a critical step forward to achieving the best user experience that your users expect.
First, statistics show that one can achieve a significant reduction in speed, oftentimes more than a 35 to 50 percent reduction, which is significant. Also, page speed may affect pages at a query level, so focusing on page experience optimization could yield great results.
Second, by focusing on optimizing for the page experience, it’s possible to improve the user experience. By zeroing in on improving the user experience as an indirect factor, it’s possible to increase user engagement by ensuring the proper accessibility of your site. By working on these indirect factors, it’s possible to improve your site to the point where it will continue to improve its performance as a result.
By working to optimize your WordPress site, you can make it load faster for your visitors. A faster loading website can improve user experience, increase conversion rates, and help improve your SEO.
Table of Contents
- Maintain Your WordPress Site to Keep it Free from Being Hacked
- Use a Caching Plugin
- Optimize Your Images
- Optimize Your Page Structure
- Minimize the Use of Plugins
- Use a Faster Theme
- Optimize Your Database
- Enable Gzip Compression
- Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
- Eliminate Render-Blocking Resources
- Bonus: Use Plugins to Reduce the Size of Your Images
Maintain Your WordPress Site to Keep it Free from Being Hacked
Continuing to keep your site maintained is an important process that should not be ignored.
Almost as important as website speed optimization is making sure your WordPress site is secure.
There are a few simple things you can do to prevent your WordPress site from being hacked:
- Update WordPress and all plugins to their latest versions.
- Use a strong password for your WordPress admin area.
- Don’t install plugins from untrustworthy sources.
- Use a security plugin like Wordfence to help secure your site.
- Backup your WordPress site regularly.
If you follow these steps, you can help keep your WordPress site running smoothly and loading quickly for your visitors. Implementing these performance optimizations can go a long way in improving the overall user experience on your website.
Use a Caching Plugin
A caching plugin is a must-have for any WordPress site. Caching helps to improve page load times by caching static files and eliminating the need to generate dynamic content on each page load. A caching plugin stores a copy of each page in a static file, which is then served to visitors instead of dynamically generating the page on each request. This can significantly improve page load times, as well as reduce server load and bandwidth usage. There are many caching plugins available for WordPress, so be sure to choose one that is compatible with your particular setup. Caching can greatly improve the performance of your WordPress site.
Caching is a process of storing data in a temporary location so that it can be accessed more quickly. When it comes to WordPress, caching can be achieved through the use of a caching plugin. Caching plugins create a static copy of your website and save it in the server’s memory, which reduces the time it takes to generate each page. In addition, caching plugins can also compress files and minify code, further reducing loading times. As a result, caching can have a significant impact on the performance of your website.
What is a Site Cache and Why Is It Important?
The cache is a type of memory that is used to store frequently accessed data. At least, this is how it is used in a computer system. On a site, however, there are two different types of caches. The site cache, and the page cache. This cache does exactly what its name implies: it temporarily stores data – anything from web pages to similar media, to images after a page is loaded. This cache helps the browser to remember the content. It’s also capable of loading this content whenever the page is visited again.
When a cache is used to do this, this process is referred to as “caching”. And site caching refers to the concept of caching from the client side of a web browser. This way, by implementing a cache that’s frequently updated, a user can regularly expect to see content that’s new and fresh. However, if the page content doesn’t change very often, it’s possible to set the cache to expire later.
When you use a caching plugin, that’s exactly what it does: it stores memory of data that’s already been initially loaded so that it doesn’t have to be re-loaded to website users in the future.
And this is how website caching plugins work and how they can improve the speed of your site.
Optimize Your Images
Images are often the heaviest files on a web page and can dramatically affect page load times. Optimizing images for the web is a process of reducing the file size without sacrificing quality. There are many ways to optimize images, and there are a variety of tools available to help you get started.
The first step in optimizing images is to choose the right format. JPEG is generally the best format for rasterized photos, while PNG is better for vector-based graphics and logos. GIF is also used for animated images, but it is not as widely used as JPEG and PNG are now. Also, you may want to consider using the next-gen image formats such as Google’s WebP, which can significantly reduce file size even more. Once you have chosen the right format, you can then begin to optimize the file size. This can be done through a variety of methods, such as reducing the resolution, compressing the file, or using a tool such as Photoshop to save for the web. Photoshop’s optimization algorithm is considered the gold standard of optimization processes.
Also, don’t forget about using next-gen formats such as WebP. You can achieve up to a 20 percent (or more) improvement in page speed, depending on how your site is currently optimized. Google’s latest next-gen image format is something you should consider using in order to display your images.
Optimize Your Page Structure
The structure of your pages can also affect loading times. Be sure to structure your pages according to SEO best practices, which includes using keyword-rich titles and descriptions, as well as creating easy-to-navigate menus and hierarchy. Also, using the right headings and subheadings can help improve the structure of your pages, making it easier for visitors to find what they are looking for.
In addition, you should also optimize the code on your pages. This includes using proper indentation and spacing, as well as using comments to explain sections of code, and removing code bloat or inefficient/excess code. By optimizing the code on your pages, you can help improve the overall performance of your website. If you don’t do this, the process of minification (something that we recommend doing) can help you achieve this.
Minimize the Use of Plugins
If you have many plugins on your site, you can expect the processing of these to take eons if they are not properly optimized or properly coded. So it’s best to reduce the number of plugins you use, and activate them only when needed. Inactive plugins are still loaded by WordPress, they’re just not active. So even if a plugin is inactive, it can still have an impact on your website’s performance.
It’s also a good idea to keep your plugins up to date. Not only will this help improve performance, but it will also help you avoid security vulnerabilities. Nothing is worse than waking up one morning and finding a hacked screen on your website. So it’s important to keep everything up to date, including your plugins.
Not all plugins are created equal, however. Some are well-coded and don’t hog resources, while others are poorly coded and can bog down your website. So it’s important to do your research before installing any plugins, and to test them on a staging site before making them live. That way, you can be sure they won’t have a negative impact on your website’s performance.
Also, don’t fall into the trap of adding too many plugins. This can cause bandwidth congestion and can have a negative impact on your website’s performance. So it’s important to be selective about the plugins you use, and to only use those that are absolutely essential.
Use a Faster Theme
If your theme is poorly coded, it can drag down the performance of your website. So it’s important to choose a theme that is well-coded and lightweight. A good way to test a theme’s speed is to run a speed test on Pingdom. This will give you an idea of how long it takes for your website to load with that particular theme.
When you utilize a faster theme, not only will this help to ensure that your online presence is as user friendly as possible and loads as quickly as possible, you can also make sure that your site reaches as many potential users as possible. Ensuring the correct optimizations in place, along with making sure that your theme is cross browser and cross platform-friendly will make things clearer to any user who visits your site what you want them to do, and how you want them to do it.
Not every theme manufacturer will follow WordPress development best practices. So it’s important to check the code of the theme to ensure it is well-coded. You can do this by running a validation test on the theme. This will help you identify any errors in the code, which can then be fixed.
It’s more important to find a compatible, well-coded theme than W3C validation, although W3C validation can be a great thing for your site. In a perfect world, finding a compatible, well-coded theme that is also W3C validated is ideal.
Optimize Your Database
Your WordPress database can become bloated over time, due to the accumulation of post revisions, spam comments, trashed posts and pages, and other data. This can impact the performance of your website, as your database has to work harder to process all this data.
Fortunately, there are plugins that can help you optimize your database, such as WP-DB Manager and WP-Sweep. These plugins will allow you to clean up your database, so it doesn’t become bloated and slow down your website.
Unused plugins can also cause issues with a database, so it’s important to delete any unused plugins.. These can be found in the plugin folder of your WordPress installation.
Plugins that are not coded well can increase the overall size of your site’s database, so this is something that you should not skimp on. Anytime you install a new plugin, you run the risk of compromising the performance of your WordPress database.
There are a number of plugins that store a lot of data within the WordPress database, but here is a quick list of plugins that are notorious for doing this:
- Anti-spam plugins,
- Link tracking plugins,
- Related posts plugins,
- Popular posts plugins,
- Security plugins
Making sure that your database is optimized is an important part of keeping your WordPress installation running smoothly, and preventing bottlenecks that could cripple your website’s performance.
Enable Gzip Compression
Enabling Gzip compression can be done in two ways: via .htaccess or through a plugin. If you’re not comfortable editing code, then using a plugin is the best option. For most web servers though, Gzip compression should be enabled by default. If not, you can add the following code to your .htaccess file. Please note that this code is for Apache servers only:
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/vnd.ms-fontobject
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-opentype
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-otf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-truetype
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-ttf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/opentype
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/otf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/ttf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/svg+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/x-icon
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
# Remove browser bugs (only needed for really old browsers)
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4\.0 no-gzip
BrowserMatch \bMSIE !no-gzip !gzip-only-text/html
Header append Vary User-Agent
The following code is what we can add in order to enable mod_gzip:
mod_gzip_item_include file \.(html?|txt|css|js|php|pl)$
mod_gzip_item_include mime ^text/.*
mod_gzip_item_exclude rspheader ^Content-Encoding:.*gzip.*
mod_gzip_item_exclude mime ^image/.*
mod_gzip_item_include handler ^cgi-script$
It’s important to note that servers do vary, so it’s critical to make sure that the above will work on your own server which can be done by simply making a call into your main hosting support person who runs your server, or your server administrator.
If you want to test if Gzip compression is enabled on your server, you can use this online tool.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
There are many different CDN providers available, such as CloudFlare, MaxCDN, and Amazon CloudFront. These providers offer different plans and pricing structures, so you’ll need to find one that fits your budget and needs.
Once you’ve signed up for a CDN account, you’ll need to configure your WordPress site to use the CDN. This can be done using a plugin, such as WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache.
Eliminate Render-blocking Resources
You can minify and concatenate your files manually, or you can use a plugin, such as Fast Velocity Minify or Autoptimize.
Bonus: Use Plugins to Reduce the Size of Your Images
Images can often be the largest files on a webpage, which can make them slow to load. In order to improve loading times, you’ll need to reduce the size of your images. This can be done by using an image compression tool, such as TinyPNG.
You can also use a WordPress plugin, such as WP Smush Pro or EWWW Image Optimizer. These plugins will automatically optimize your images when you upload them to your website.
Optimizing WordPress Can be a Challenge But Doing So Is Well Worth It