Is your WordPress site slow?
Ohh and if your website loads pretty quickly, can it be made even quicker – Every millisecond literally makes a difference. We can measure your site’s performance and see if there’s anything else to make it just a wee bit faster. But we’ll get to that in a bit.
Before I tell you how you can make your website a great deal faster, I’ll try to establish the importance of having a fast loading website
Hosting Service Selection
Whilst there are multiple things that you can do to enhance your site’s performance, such methods have their limitations. Tweaking software will only help optimize site performance. But when it really comes down to it, nothing beats the best hardware. Shared hosting is an option for low traffic sites but as your site traffic grows you need to scale your hardware. Virtual Private Server, Dedicated Hosting and Managed Hosting are options used by high/medium traffic sites. Dedicated hosting is reserved for the biggest sites with millions of daily visits. VPS is designed for the technically adept and Managed WordPress Hosting is for the non-tech savvy running an online business.
Assuming you are on a tight budget, I’d recommend SiteGround’s shared hosting plan. They have a near 100% uptime, free domain name registration, free daily backups, a 30-day money back guarantee and offer scalability.
But if you want the best hosting that money can buy, I’d recommend WPEngine – Managed WordPress Hosting Solution. Good support and top notch hosting solution that creates blazing fast websites.
If you are using WPEngine, the next part (Caching) of this performance guide can be skipped. WPEngine uses EverCache to cache your site. With a managed WordPress host, you can forget about taking care of your site performance and focus only on content production (true to a large extent).
Use The Best Caching Plugin
(Assuming you use anything other than Managed WordPress Hosting where caching is provided in-house by your hosting company)
WP Rocket is a premium best selling caching plugin that works efficiently to optimize your site for speed. There are many WP caching plugins which in my opinion, a bit too complicated for a WP newbie. And the complexity of options is good for expert and intermediate level WP user. WP Rocket isn’t too difficult to figure out and use.
WP Rocket performs page caching to decrease load speeds, cache preloading to help with site indexing by search engines, images load only upon request (when you scroll down, not when a page first loads), file compression to convert HTML, JS & CSS to static files and the plugin is rather developer friendly.
When I was writing a post about the Top 6 Caching plugins, one of the conclusions I came to was it was very difficult to compare caching plugins. The reason every plugin is a bit different and configuring every plugin optimally is not easy, if you do not set the same configurations on all the plugins it makes the plugins impossible to compare. Instead, I basically asked our readers to go with the plugin they felt was the easiest to use. And do read the post about Top 6 Caching Plugins, if you want more options including freemium and free caching plugins.
Choose The Right Framework
Frameworks form the skeleton upon on which you build your site’s appearance and eventually display your content. A good framework is important to ensure good site performance. The theme which helps design and modify the appearance of your site also contributes to site load time. A flashy multimedia rich theme with a bulky framework does not make for a fast website.
In terms of performance when it comes to site speed, theme houses like Headway Themes, StudioPress (Genesis) and iThemes produce themes based a strong and lean framework. And upon this framework, they create color filled themes intended for specific site types and niches. To a great extent, the success of the aforementioned theme houses can be attributed to their WP frameworks on which they build their themes. I’d recommend any of the aforementioned theme houses’ frameworks.
For a more extensive list of frameworks that you might want, look at our round up of the 16 best frameworks for WordPress. We’ll also benchmark frameworks and hosting options in the future to provide a better picture with regards to speed.
Use A CDN
CDNs or Content Delivery Networks help deliver static files of your website faster to your visitors from a server location much closer to them than your site’s servers. This makes a website that normally fast seems even faster. A CDN ensures that your visitor hits the cache rather than reach your servers. And accessing the cache as opposed to requesting site data from servers is much faster.
Almost all high traffic websites now use a CDN for their static content. CDNs like MaxCDN have solid state drives strategically located all over the globe to provide the ideal global content delivery service to websites with a wide demographic reach, as you can see from the image below.
Images are bulky when compared to text, they occupy much more space on your wp-content folder than they should be allowed to. Compressing your images will help bring down your site load times. You can reduce the size of your images without losing much of the perceived image quality.
With lossless compression provided by EWWW Image Optimizer you can reduce image sizes without much loss of quality. Alternatively, you can use Compress JPEG & PNG Images plugin for the same. They promise a compression in size by about 40% – 60% for JPEG images and 50% – 80% for PNG images, without a visible and obvious loss in quality
Diagnose Your Plugins
All plugins at the end of the day are pieces of code that help perform functions. Sometimes they become cumbersome and counterproductive.
P3- Plugin Performance Profiler
This plugin will detect which of your plugins are heavily impacting your site load times. And with the report that the plugin generates, you shall be able to identify which plugins are dragging your site’s speed down. If any plugin affects site performance far too much, then find alternate plugins.
Hotlinking is a means by which people use the content that is a host on your site’s servers for their own websites. So basically they use your servers with your content on their site. And as a result, your server gets loaded with no benefit to you whatsoever.
How do you stop someone from stealing your server resources?
To prevent people from hotlinking stuff from your site’s content. Some tinkering with your site’s code is required. You can use this tool from htaccesstools.com to generate the necessary code which you can add to your server. Normally, your host will also be willing to help you with this.
And once you prevent hotlinking, you can be certain that your server resources are not spent hosting content for a website other than your own. Hotlinking tactics generally target images and other multimedia which are data heavy, so if you run a site with minimal imagery, disabling hotlinking will not have any effect on your site’s performance