How To Speed Up Your WordPress Blog

No doubt you’ve heard people saying that the load speed of your website matters. Does it really though? Here are some interesting statistics gathered together by Kissmetrics.

73% of mobile internet users say that they’ve encountered a website that was too slow to load.

51% of mobile internet users say that they’ve encountered a website that crashed, froze, or received an error.

38% of mobile internet users say that they’ve encountered a website that wasn’t available.

47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.

40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

If an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year.

This should hit home the importance of why your site needs to load quickly. If you still need further convincing, then hopefully this will do the trick.

Google have added site speed as one of the many ranking factors they check. Fire Fox made a few tweaks to their top landing pages and were able to reduce the average load time by 2.2 seconds, converting into 15.4% more conversions. In real terms they were able to drive an additional 60,000,000 Firefox downloads per year.

Finally, it was reported that Amazon have had to deal with the negative effects of a slow website. (Kohavi and Longbotham 2007) Studies showed that there’s a 1% decrease in sales for every 100ms in response time.

So, now you know the impacts it can have, we need to check how fast your website loads. To give you an idea we were able to make WP Tear Down loading in under 300ms!

pingdom-wpteardown-test-results

Speed Testing Tools

There are several tools that you can use to test the speed of your website. I have gather a list together of the top 3 tools for testing your site load speed.

– Pingdom

– Gmetrix

– Web Page Test

You want to test multiple times to make sure you don’t get any anomalies. Also when doing the test, if your online presence is only restricted to a geographical location use i.e. UK only use the testing server location nearest you. This way you’ll get a better reflection of what your site speeds really are. Though if you run a blog for instance and you want your presence world wide you want to test your speeds from several different server locations because these are the speeds your readers will be experiencing.

You might also want to check out the Google PageSpeed insights. This will test your website and give you some information such as where it needs to be improved.

Hosting

Firstly, a highly talked about topic is your hosting. Which hosting company should you go with? To stand a change performance wise, I would suggest going with a higher performance package. I run this site on a shared VPS and pay £20/$30 per month. If running a WordPress site you should consider something like WP Engine and their most basic package ($29 Per Month). This will be enough to get the speed you require, plus it’s optimised for WordPress.

If you aren’t looking to spend that sort of money, there is another option that I haven’t used myself, but I’ve heard good things about in InMotion Hosting. I have read several independent reviews on how site speeds performed with this hosting and it packs a punch.

Performance of 7 top WordPress hosting companies

InMotion Hosting Review

It’s also very reasonably priced starting at $5.99 per month with 25% off discount code.

Buy InMotion Hosting

WordPress Theme

Having a bloated WordPress theme can be very damaging to your website speed. A quick way to test how much of an impact this is having on your site, is to change your theme over to the preinstalled WordPress 2016 theme. This theme runs very quickly and is well optimised. You can now compare this against your own theme you had installed and see the load speed differences. If you find that your theme is making your site load to slowly, you should consider changing your theme. We are using Schema by My Theme Shop and we have been able to get our site to load under 300ms!

I’ve written a review on my full thoughts on the Scheme WordPress theme. Is it the fastest theme in the marketplace?

Buy Schema Theme

WordPress Plugins

You want to make sure you keep your plugins updated as this can have an impact on load speed. Avoid using plugins that haven’t been updated in a long time as this can have a negative effect too.  Limit the amount of installed/active plugins you have to the bare essentials as this can add seconds to your load time. To see how much of an effect your plugins are having, you can install P3. Once you run a test this will tell you how much time each of your plugins is adding onto your load time. Think very carefully whether you need the plugins or not as the less of them there are, the quicker the load time of your blog will be. Most likely, to run the test you will have to deactivate your caching plugin if you have one installed.

CDN

A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a must if you have international presence. The CDN takes all your static files you’ve got on your site which includes your CSS, Javascript and images etc and lets visitors download them as fast as possible by serving the files on servers as close to them as possible. CDN companies use servers throughout the world to reduce the distance the file has to be sent. Quantcast list of the top 10k websites shows that 43% of them are using a CDN.

Here at WP Tear Down we are using Key CDN. They are a newer service but a great alternative to MAX CDN and Cloud Flare, they are cheaper and very powerful. Read a full review about Key CDN.

Buy Key CDN

Caching

Installing a caching plugin is a great way to speed up your site. What the caching plugin does is generate static HTML files from your dynamic WordPress blog. Once the HTML files are generated, your server will use these smaller files instead of the larger dynamic PHP files.

There are a couple of good free caching plugins: W3 Total cache and WP Super Cache. Setting them up can seem a bit technical, especially if you’re new to WordPress. However, there are some good tutorials out there to help show you how to set them up:

W3 Total Cache configuration guide

WP Super Cache configuration guide

I’m currently using a paid caching plugin called WP Rocket. The set up is very simple and this is a great option for beginners. Don’t let that put you off if you’re not a beginner as it is very fast and packed with features! In my testing, it performs just as good as W3 Total/WP Super Cache if not better. Also this is more apparent on large sites.

Gzip Compression

Enabling Gzip compression can drastically reduce the amount of data being transferred between your server and your visitors. The best analogy is imagine creating a ZIP file on your computer. What happens is: your server compresses the data and then your visitor’s browser decompresses the data and displays it in its original form. By doing this, it significantly lowers the amount of data that’s being transferred and reduces the load speed of your site.

There’s a very simple way to enable Gzip compression with in WordPress. All you have to do is go to the following address for your domain: http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin/options.php. This bring you to a hidden options page within WordPress. Scroll down untill you find Gzip Compression, its order is alphabetical order. You next want to change the 0 to 1 to enable gzip. It’s that simple!

To test that Gzip compression is working on your site, test it here online Gzip compression test.

Minify CSS & JS Files

Minifying your CSS and JS files is where they are optimised by removing white space characters, new line characters, comments and block delimiters, then combining them into one document per file type, to reduce the amount of look ups. This is very easy to solve: you can either install WP Minify or Better WordPress Minify. They’re both free WordPress plugins. I will warn you that this could break your site. What I mean by this is that your CSS files/javascript files might not load. If you’re not technically minded and this happens, just uninstall the plugin as it’s more hassle than it’s worth to you.

Image Optimization

You have two options here: you can either optimise your images before uploading them to WordPress using either services like Kraken or Image Optimizer. This will mean you have one less plugin on your site, but more hassle, as you will manually have to optimise each image for upload.

The second option you can do is use a plugin to achieve the same process. When you upload an image, it will optimise it so you don’t have unnecessary large file sizes. You are also able to optimise images you have already uploaded to your WordPress site. Here are few plugins I recommend:

WP Smushit

Optimus

Kraken

All of these are on a freemium model, which means they have a basic free version and then a paid version. In this case, with offering larger file sizes they can optimise.

Lazy Load Images

Lazy loading is another helpful way to reduce load times. It’s more apparent when you have an image heavy website. What lazy loading does is only load the images that are visible to the user.

If you decide that WP Rocket is worth investing in, it already has lazy loading built-in. This means you don’t have to install another plugin. Though if you don’t want to pay, there is a free option called BJ Lazy load.

HTTP Status

You want to make sure that you haven’t any HTTP status errors as this will increase the load time and also will annoy your visitors if they are confronted with them. Http status checker will allow you to see if there are any errors. Http status code list, will tell you what each code means. To be able to export a list of your whole site’s URLs, follow this guide. This will allow you to copy and paste the URLs into the HTTP status checker. You want to make you sure that you don’t have any 404 errors and you want to limit the amount of 301 redirects you use.

Disable Hotlinking

Hotlinking is when another website uses a direct link to your images you host on your own website. This way they use your image in their own articles and this, in turn, puts your server under more load. The more popular the article is, the more your image is going to be viewed and you’re footing the bill as it’s your bandwidth they are using to host the image.

Place this code in your root .htaccess file:

RewriteEngine on

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)?yourdomain.com [NC]

RewriteRule \.(jpg|jpeg|png|gif)$ – [NC,F,L]

Data Base Optimisation

Mostly if you haven’t done this since starting your site, your database will be bloated with unnecessary information. To clean up and optimise your database, you can install WP-Optimize. This gets you rid of spam, post revisions, drafts, tables, etc. You can also go into the settings of this plugin and set up automatic database clean ups.

Limit Post Revisions

Every time you update a page or post, a revision is stored. This is to allow you to roll back to an older vision. It will then make your database larger than it needs to be and potentially slow down your server. Also, it make backing up a much longer unnecessary process. The solution is to either limit the amount of revisions or get rid of them totally. You can do this with one of two ways: use a plugin called Revision Control. Alternatively if you don’t want to use a plugin, you can follow this tutorial to a achieve the same result.

Social Sharing

Consider not using official social media buttons and widgets. The reason for this is they make your site very slow at loading. Look for a more lightweight option. We use Social Warfare and this is a paid plugin, but it’s great! Alternatively, you could use something like Simple Share Buttons Adder – this is a lightweight free social sharing plugin.

Buy Social Warfare

There’s lots of things you can do to speed up your website. Each thing that I’ve listed above should help you shave time here and there off your load time. I have managed to get this site to load in under 300ms, hopefully these tips will help you out, too. If you have any questions or need a hand, just post in the comments and I’ll be sure to reply!

Get more stuff like this

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

7 Comments

  1. Manuel
  2. Manuel
  3. Manuel

Leave a Reply

Get more stuff like this
in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.