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Originally Posted On: 10 Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Website – SEO & Web Ltd (seoandweb.co.uk)
WordPress is more than just an easy-to-use content management system; it’s an online phenomenon that powers around 455 million websites (that’s 35 per cent of the internet).
It’s pretty obvious why WordPress is so popular too – you can effortlessly scale websites up or down, it’s incredibly user-friendly, there are multiple plugins available for better customisation, and a global community is on hand to provide round-the-clock support.
But that doesn’t mean to say an off-the-shelf WordPress website will meet your needs straight away, especially when it comes to speed. After all, the more you capitalise on WordPress’ features and functionality, the slower your site is likely to become.
Therefore, it makes sense to optimise your WordPress website with speed in mind. Not only will this improve the experience for users, but it should also improve your ranking on search, as Google looks upon fast loading times favourably.
So without further ado, here are our top 10 ways to speed up your WordPress website. And don’t forget to continually test website speed using the following resources:
- Pingdom Website Speed Test – To help you analyse your website load speed and make it faster.
- PageSpeed Insights – To highlight the elements that you can tweak to speed up WordPress.
1. Pick the right provider and server
Your choice of hosting provider will majority impact the speed of your WordPress website, especially if you are on a shared hosting plan. While this will often provide you with unlimited bandwidth, space, domains and emails, it doesn’t equate to good loading times during peak traffic hours. In fact, most shared hosting environments fail to deliver 99 per cent uptime in any given month.
If you want quick speeds and solid uptime, pick a reputable provider that can give you dedicated cloud servers. This means you won’t be sharing the same server space with countless other websites. What’s more, you can optimise cloud servers to the specific needs of your website.
2. Use a lightweight theme and framework
WordPress themes are both functional and engaging, helping you provide a stellar experience to users. But just remember that graphic elements, images, sliders, widgets and social integrations will take their toll on site speed.
For this reason, you should choose a lightweight theme that prioritises usability rather than aesthetics or entertainment. If you absolutely need a feature-rich website, make sure the framework it’s built on can handle the extra load.
3. Reduce your image sizes
From increasing user engagement to improving product pages, images are an essential element of most websites. However, they are the major contributors to the size increment of any given page.
Before you optimise images manually using software like photoshop, try a WordPress plugin instead. Options include Optimole, WP Smush and EWWW Image Optimizer.
4. Minimise JS and CSS files
Run your website through the Google PageSpeed Insights tool and there’s a good chance you’ll receive a recommendation to minimise the size of your CSS and JS files. Perform this step and you’ll enjoy faster site loading speeds.
Once again, you can utilise plugins such as Autoptimize that will help with the CSS, JS and HTML of your website. But if you’d like to manually fix these issues, study the handy guides provided by Google.
5. Use a CDN
If your organisation serves an international audience or has customers located all around the world, you’ll need a website that can meet their needs no matter where they are located. Unfortunately, site loading speeds depend on the distance between your visitors and your server.
A CDN, which stands for Content Delivery Network, will keep a copy of your website in various global data centres. Its primary purpose is to serve web pages to visitors from the nearest possible location.
6. Enable GZIP compression
If you’ve ever compressed files on your local computer, you’ll know how effective it is at saving disk space. Well, the same goes for websites, which can utilise GZIP compression.
This will dramatically reduce bandwidth usage and the time it takes to gain access to your website. Plugins are available for GZIP compression or you can add a series of codes in your .htaccess file.
7. Clean up your database
What’s the point in keeping unwanted information in your database? Along with reducing the size of your backups, it can also help with site-loading speeds.
While you’re at it, make sure you delete spam comments, fake users, drafts of unpublished content and any unwanted themes too. These measures will reduce the number of web files you have and result in a faster site.
8. Deactivate or uninstall plugins
Speaking of junk in your web files, unwanted plugins put an overwhelming amount of unnecessary load on your server resources, as they’ll still be included in any backups. And it’s not as if plugins are difficult to install again if you change your mind.
You should also see whether third-party services or alternative methods can be used for automating and scheduling tasks. For example, IFTTT and Zapier are extremely efficient in terms of automation and will reduce the burden on your server resources.
9. Disable pingbacks and trackbacks
Pingbacks and trackbacks alert you whenever your blog or page receives a link. Although this core WordPress component is useful, other resources such as Google Webmaster Tools are just as good and won’t result in slow page loading speeds.
Turn them off in WP-Admin → Settings → Discussion. Simply deselect “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks).” As well as speeding up your site, you’ll also avoid the possibility of DDoS attacks that target this functionality.
10. Keep external scripts to a minimum
Scripts tend to fall into one of three categories: advertising, analytics, and A/B testing, all of which provide obvious business benefits. Unfortunately, they add to the ‘time to interactive’ metric, which leads to slow responding websites.
It’s best to keep external scripts to a minimum and only use the ones that are absolutely essential. For most websites, this will include web analytics platforms like Google Analytics and commenting systems such as Disqus.