Why WordPress Site Speed Matters
WordPress is a great platform, but can be quite slow for a number of reasons. A slow site is not only a hassle for repeat visitors but will cause you to lose subscribers and customers. By taking the proper precautions you can speed up your WordPress site and get business moving fast.
You only have a few seconds to capture a visitors attention to convince them to stay on your site. According to a report by the Microsoft Bing search team, a 2-second longer delay in page responsiveness reduced user satisfaction by 3.8%, increased lost revenue per user by 4.3%, and a reduced clicks by 4.3%.
If your site takes too long to load, most people are gone, lost before you even had a chance.
Google now includes site speed in it’s ranking algorithm. That means that your site’s speed effects SEO, so if your site is slow, you’re now losing visitors and reduced rankings in search engines.
The Number One way to Speed Up WordPress: A Good Host
A shared host might seem like a bargain with “unlimited page views” and all those other great looking hooks. The hidden cost you pay is incredibly slow site speed and frequent down time during high traffic periods.
You are killing your business by running your WordPress site on shared hosting. The stress of your site going down after getting a big feature is enough to create a few early gray hairs: don’t be a victim, invest in proper hosting.
Enter Sunny HQ. For years we tried different hosts with a plethora of add on services and the result was to create our own. Sunny HQ utilizes the best hosting data centers coupled with enterprise level services. We have combined these under one brand to make the best WordPress full service hosting available.
We are so sure that you will love Sunny HQ, that we will migrate your site for FREE just to show you how much better it runs in our environment. On top of that our subscriptions are completely risk free for 60 days. If you don’t like Sunny HQ for any reason, just tell us and we will help put your site back where it was – FREE. Check out our plans.
If you want to do it yourself…
You can if you prefer, host and run your site, but make sure to read further to help do everything needed for your WordPress site. One word of warning, you will find yourself spending tons of time and resources to do something that you should be outsourcing.
Start with a solid framework/theme
The Twenty Fifteen “framework” (aka the default WP theme) is lightweight and quite speedy. It is very important to use a premium theme. Paid themes are kept up to date regularly and out perform free themes.
Use an effective caching plugin
Caching drastically improve page loads time, and best of all, all of them on WP.org are free and easy to use.
Use a content delivery network (CDN)
All of your favorite big blogs are making use of this, and if you are into online marketing using WordPress (as I’m sure many of my readers are) you won’t be surprised to here that some of your favorite blogs like Copyblogger are making use of CDN’s.
To put it bluntly, CloudFlare, along with a caching plugin are a really potent combination (they integrate with each other) that will greatly improve not only the speed, but the security of your site.
Optimize images (automatically)
Yahoo! has an image optimizer called Smush.it that will drastically reduce the file size of an image, while not reducing quality. There is also an amazing, free plugin called WP-SmushIt which will do this process to all of your images automatically, as you are uploading them.
Optimize your homepage to load quickly
This is few easy things that you can do to ensure that your homepage loads quickly.
- Remove unnecessary sharing widgets from the home page (include them only in posts)
- Show excerpts instead of full posts
- Keep in minimal! Readers are here for content, not 8,000 widgets on the homepage
- Remove inactive plugins and widgets that you don’t need
Optimize your WordPress database
This can be done manually or you can simply use the WP-Optimize plugin. This plugin lets you optimize the your database (spam, post revisions, drafts, tables, etc.) to reduce their overhead.
Disable hotlinking and leeching of your content
Hotlinking is a form of bandwidth “theft.” It occurs when other sites direct link to the images on your site from their articles making your server load increasingly high. This can add up as more and more people “scrape” your posts or your site (and especially images) become more popular, as must do if you create custom images for your site on a regular basis.
Add an expires header to static resources
An Expires header is a way to specify a time far enough in the future so that the clients (browsers) don’t have to re-fetch any static content. This way can cut your load time significantly for your regular users.
Head here for some great examples. You will need to copy and paste the following code in your root .htaccess file:
Adjust Gravatar images
Set the default Gravatar image is set to nothing. It will improve page loads by having nothing where there would normally be a unneeded Gravatar logo.
Add LazyLoad to your images
LazyLoad is the process of having only only the images above the fold load until a user scrolls down. This will not only speed you page loads, it can also save bandwidth.
To do this automatically, install the jQuery Image Lazy Load plugin.
Control the amount of post revisions stored
WordPress, by default saves an unlimited number of drafts, every time you work on a post. Use the Revision Control plugin to make sure you keep post revisions to a minimum, set it to 2 or 3 so you have something to fall back on in case you make a mistake, but not too high that you clutter your backend with unnecessary amounts of drafted posts.
Turn off pingbacks and trackbacks
By default, WordPress interacts with other blogs that are equipped with pingbacks and trackbacks. For more detail, read this explanation of WordPress Pingbacks, Trackbacks and Linkbacks.
If you made it this far you can see that it is a lot of work to keep you sir