Last Updated on August 17, 2020 by Sunny Staff
The Keys to Making WordPress Fast
- Utilize page caching
- Take advantage of object caching
- Optimize your database
- Keep WordPress clean
- Use good plugins
- Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
- Scalability is Key for making WordPress fast
1. Utilize page caching
One of the main differences between HTML and PHP sites is how pages are requested. With PHP (the language WordPress uses), the page is built dynamically with each page request. With HTML, the page is a pre-built static file. While PHP-based sites require more server-side processing, they allow for more dynamic content and customization. This flexibility is why so many choose to use WordPress as a content management system (CMS).
Since building a page for each request is so taxing on the server, we strongly recommend using a page cache system. This means that each requested page is periodically generated and stored as a static file on your site’s server. Now that your server doesn’t have to rebuild the page for each request, the workload on your server is greatly reduced, allowing for faster response times. When using page caching, you need to set an expiration date for each cached page. We use a cache expiration time of ten minutes. This means that each time the server generates a copy of the page, it is stored for ten minutes. For the next ten minutes, when that page is requested, it will be served from the cache instead of rebuilding it. After ten minutes, the cache is dumped, and the process starts over.
2. Take advantage of object caching
In addition to generating the page with PHP, your WordPress site also relies on a database to store information and provide it as needed. When a page is created that requires information from the database, the request to and response from the database requires time and uses valuable server resources.
Similar to page caching, object caching is the process of storing WordPress database query results in your server’s memory, instead of running a new query for the data each time it’s requested. This cuts down on response time and server resources.
As with page caching, Sunny HQ uses object caching to store repeated query results – reducing response time – making your site Super Fast!
Here’s an article with a list of some of the best free and paid cache plugins for WordPress.
3. Optimize your database
To make WordPress Fast, keeping your database in tip-top shape should also be a priority for your website. The less database bloat you have, the faster your site can perform. This means cutting down on things like post revisions, orphaned post/postmeta and comment/commentmeta rows, as well as reducing autoloaded rows in wp_options.
In WordPress, the wp_options database table has a lot of your site’s configuration settings like: siteurl, active themes, active plugins, cron jobs, and more. These are essential settings which probably should be set to automatically load on every page.
By default, most options stored in wp_options are set in the “autoload” column to “yes,” which means they have to load on every single requested page. However, plugins or themes may be adding rows and transients to your wp_options table, which may not be information that needs to load on every single page.
To make WordPress Fast, periodically check through your wp_options table to see if there are any rows added by themes or plugins, which might be very long, and may be causing a delay in site load time. Sound complicated? That’s why the Sunny HQ team does this every day for our customers.
4. Keep WordPress clean
WordPress is a very versatile CMS, but sometimes customization can be very costly to the amount of time it takes to load your site. It’s best to keep configuration files, like the .htaccess file and wp-config.php files, close to their default state. These files have to be loaded on every page load too, so reducing things like rewrites and server directives in the .htaccess file, in particular, can be helpful.
Sunny HQ set redirects and rewrites in our Admin Portal. Redirects set here will be executed before the request is sent to be processed by PHP. This translates to less heavy lifting for the server to redirect the request.
5. Use good plugins
Since WordPress is open-source, there are thousands of plugin and theme options to choose from when it comes to your site. When you’re deciding on which plugin to use for a site function, check out the plugin’s page and see how often it’s updated, and how often support threads are resolved. To make WordPress fast, always use quality plugins.
If updates are relatively frequent and the authors still seem engaged in support threads, this is a good indication that this plugin is being actively maintained. This is good because more updates often mean more optimizations to the way the plugin functions. It also means the authors are more likely to help patch any security vulnerabilities the plugin may encounter.
Using relevant plugins also means to cut down on the plugins your site doesn’t need or use. If a plugin is inactive and you know you probably won’t use it again, it’s best to delete it.
6. Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
Sunny HQ’s CDN is built-in without using a plugin to rewrite your site’s source code. This makes your site SUPER FAST!
There are also CDN options to make WordPress Fast, which involves routing your site through a reverse proxy and leveraging caching at this level. Offloading content through this type of CDN can be valuable for sites with extremely high levels of traffic. They allow for custom configuration of caching for pages and files as well if you want a more granular approach to caching. By using this kind of CDN, it helps offload a good portion of the server processing to cache it instead. We deploy Cloudflare as part of our standard service to all customers. Cloudflare is the icing on the cake, super securing and making it lightning fast.
7. Scalability is Key for Making WordPress Fast
To make WordPress Fast, it’s essential to weight content that’s dynamic against content that’s quick and lightweight for your server. Offload dynamic actions that are unique to visitors. This ensure’s your quest for dynamic content isn’t over-burdening your site’s server.
It’s also important to keep your site as cacheable as possible. Limit the PHP actions and queries being called on your site. This means reducing repeated actions like a page-view counter or a share counter. Instead, try using caching settings for these features so that they only refresh every few minutes or every hour.
If your blog has many older archives of articles, this could also mean something as simple as being crawled by Google could add up to server load time, because of the number of uncached pages being requested. You can try increasing your cache-expiration settings in your site’s .htaccess file, to help ensure that fewer old pages are going to the server uncached.
If you found this article useful and want to see more articles like this, make sure to check out our blog. If you feel lost in the WordPress world, let us help you with our world-class WordPress management and WordPress maintenance services.