Optimize WordPress

WordPress is the platform of choice for millions of users. WordPress itself is considered to be a content management system. Honestly, it’s one of the best content management systems on the web. With that being said, it’s only as good as you make it. What I mean by this is that it is up to you to optimize WordPress so that it runs quickly and efficiently. There are several factors that go into optimizing your WordPress site for the best results. Let’s discuss the various ways to optimize WordPress, to give you a fast website that all of your visitors will enjoy.

Hosting

I can tell you firsthand that the web host you choose can make or break you. I’ve used terrible hosting in the past to run my WordPress website. I didn’t know that they were bad when I signed up with them. To make a long story short, my WordPress site kept crashing over and over again, no matter how much I optimized it. The most important choice that you can make is your web hosting provider. They have to have the resources and knowledge available in order to run and maintain your WordPress site without any problems. I switched from my old hosting company to Bluehost, and haven’t had any problems since. They are fast, reliable, stable, and their customer service is impeccable. I wouldn’t recommend anyone else as a hosting provider, except Bluehost.

Your theme

When I first started, I had the misconception that your WordPress website’s speed depended totally on the hardware. Boy was I wrong. Using an optimized WordPress theme can make all the difference. Not only will an optimized WordPress theme help your site to run faster, but it will also be better for SEO, or search engine optimization. A bloated theme will cause more server requests, putting a higher load on your servers. This can bog down your server and cause your WordPress website to run slower. The way your theme handles things, such as images, thumbnail images, and featured images can cause your website to become unnecessarily bloated. Also, every developer has their own method of building a WordPress theme. Some methods are better than others, and some developers write more streamlined code than others.

If I had to recommend a WordPress theme provider, I would recommend MyThemeShop or Elegant Themes. Those two WordPress theme providers create some of the best WordPress themes available. Their pricing is reasonable, and the themes run fast and efficiently on most servers. Recently, MyThemeShop has focused on developing streamlined and highly efficient WordPress themes that focus on page speed.

Content delivery network

Optimize WordPress with Cloudflare

It’s important that you use a content delivery network to help deliver things such as images to visitors. You can save a lot of resources when using a content delivery network, which helps your WordPress site run much faster. Any time that you can reduce the load on your server, the faster your website will run. Remember when I mentioned Bluehost earlier? What’s great about Bluehost is that they partnered with a content delivery network called Cloudflare. For no added cost, you get access to disk content delivery network to help speed up your WordPress websites. You can go into the settings, and tweak the settings to help your WordPress site run faster. For example, you can set the caching level too aggressive to tell Cloudflare to cache as much things as possible. You can also minify JavaScript and CSS files using the service. It’s hard to believe that all of this is built into your Bluehost account.

Use a caching plug-in

Optimize WordPress with W3 Total Cache

There are two different caching plug-ins that many WordPress users prefer. The first one is WP Super Cache, and the other one is called W3 Total Cache. You’ll get a lot of WordPress users that say they prefer one over the other. However, the majority of users use W3 Total Cache to optimize WordPress for the best results. There are a lot of advantages to this free plug-in, which can help to optimize your site and make it run much faster. You can minify JavaScript and CSS files using this plug-in, and you can enable object and browser caching. There are several little tweaks that you can perform on your website in order to make it run faster using this plug-in. I highly suggest you take a look at using one of the two that I mentioned above. If you want a more in-depth tutorial about how to set up W3 Total Cache, I will be creating one within the next couple of days.

Limit the number of plug-ins you use

Many newer users will find pleasure in adding functionality to their website by adding plug-in after plug-in. All functionality is nice, you’re killing your website speed. More plug-ins you install on your site, the heavier the load is on your server. Only install plug-ins that you absolutely need. If you don’t absolutely need something, don’t sacrifice the website speed for a couple of needless bells and whistles.

Delete inactive plug-ins

A common misconception with WordPress plug-ins, is that if it’s not installed, then no harm is done. The truth is, even in active plug-ins can bog down your server. Don’t leave a lot of inactive plug-ins installed on your website. Delete all inactive WordPress plug-ins that you aren’t using, unless you are planning on installing them later.

Excerpts

By default WordPress will enable 10 posts on the homepage. This is a lot of posts to load on one page. This can increase overall page load time, which is something you definitely don’t want. You can choose to show the full post, or you can choose to show an excerpt. Choose to show an excerpt, but limit the posts to only five per page. This will help your page to load faster.

Optimize your database

Optimize WordPress Wp Dbmanager

Overloading your database with a bunch of needless data can slow your site down. If there’s a bunch of needless data on there, it’s okay to get rid of it. One plug-in I would recommend for this is WP-DBmanager, which is free. I use this plug-in on all of my WordPress sites, and it helps to get rid of all the needless data that piles up over time. This will get rid of extra tables in your database, spam, post revisions, and drafts of post that you saved along the way. WordPress is set up to save a copy of your work automatically as you go along. Also, every time you revise a post, it saves that revision in its history. This means you can have multiple copies of the same post taking up valuable space on your database. With the click of a button, you can optimize your WordPress database to get rid of needless data.

Use lazy loading for your images

Lazy loading is a process where only the images that are currently visible on the browser load. As you scroll down the page the next images will load before they come into view. This saves on bandwidth and helps your website to load much faster. Use the lazy loader WordPress plug-in to enable this feature automatically.

Add expires headers

This tip is for your returning visitors, but they can have a great impact on how fast your WordPress site will load. An expires header tells the browser not to reload an image because it won’t change. Your viewers browsers won’t reload static files such as CSS files or JavaScript. This can significantly reduce load time for your returning visitors, making their experience much more pleasant.

Disable hotlinking of your images

Some people not only want to steal your images, they will steal your bandwidth, too. The way they do this, is that they hop link to your image, forcing your server to load it on their website. This except your bandwidth and causes an excessive load on your server. Disable this feature in your .htaccess file.

Highly optimize your images

Wp-smushit

The web is a visual world. There’s no way for you to get around that. However, that doesn’t mean that your images have to be done all of your resources. You can optimize your images, to reduce load times and speed up your website. Yahoo makes a plug-in for WordPress called WpSmushit. What this plug-in does, is that it compresses your images, which makes your file sizes much smaller. There are other tools available on the web for compressing images. For PNG files, I would recommend tinyPNG.org. You can upload your images to this site, and then re-download them in a compressed size. Sometimes, you can save up to 50%.

Enable gzip compression

Enabling gzip compression basically packages up your images, CSS, and JavaScript into a type of zip file that is much smaller than the originals. It is decompressed by the browser, but the overall effect is that the amount of data transferred is much less because the file size is much smaller.

Conclusion

If you follow the helpful tips that I’ve listed here today, you should see a significant improvement in the performance of your WordPress site. Optimize WordPress to help your website to run faster and more efficiently. This will deliver a much better experience to your visitors. No one wants to visit a slow website, especially in this fast-paced, mobile enthusiastic world.