Why and How to Increase Your WordPress Blog’s Speed

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Night and Speed... quite a thrill..
photo credit: RamyaB

The speed of your WordPress site has a large impact on how people perceive your website.

Research has shown that even a half second increase in load time causes a website to be viewed as less professional.

Google has conducted similar tests on its own search pages and found that when their service is just a fraction of a second slower, users are less happy.

In other words, the load speed of your website has a direct impact on whether or not people like your website. Even a small improvement can make a big difference.

Also, search engines take load times into account when determining where to rank pages. Faster loading sites are given a boost, while slow loading sites receive demerits.

So how do you increase the load speed of your WordPress site?

Install W3 Total Cache

This plugin does two important things.

First, it shrinks all your CSS and JavaScript files into one smaller and more efficient file. Instead of having to load a dozen different code files, the end user just loads one small file.

Second, it caches your pages. WordPress out of the box is a PHP based content management system. That means that every time someone loads your page, WordPress “builds” your website from scratch.

This is very resource intensive and also takes a lot of time. Caching allows WordPress to only do this once, then load the completed page from the cache instead of having to reconstruct it every time.

Get a Virtual Private Server or Dedicated Host

On a shared hosting server, your website is sharing a server between 100 and 500 other websites. If any of those websites get a sudden traffic boost, your website will slow down.

A virtual private server is shared with anywhere between 4 and 25 other websites. This allows you to get much more performance out of your web host.

The most expensive option is to get a dedicated server. This means you get your own server all to yourself.

Increasing your server capacity might not make sense in the beginning. However, once you’re profitable, paying a little bit of money for higher performance becomes a very good ROI.

Reduce Widgets and Plugins

Excess plugins can severely reduce the load speed of your website. Even if the plugins aren’t doing anything, they still have to be loaded every time you call a WordPress page.

Go through all your plugins and deactivate or delete all the ones that you aren’t using.

Look through your widgets and see if you have any active widgets that you don’t need. If you have a crowded sidebar with three pages of navigation, chances are you can afford to take some of it out.

Again, widgets have to load every time someone loads a new page. That can drastically slow down your overall load time.

Compress Images

Most file formats allow you to reduce the resolution or image quality in order to save size.

JPEG has standard compression. With GIFs, you can reduce the number of colors it’s representing. PNGs and TIFFs can’t be compressed.

You can usually cut as much as 40% of an image’s resolution without a noticeable decrease in quality.

Reduce Number of Posts Per Page

Reduce the number of posts that show up on each page. By default, WordPress will display ten posts. That could take a long time to load.

If possible, set WordPress to only display one or two full posts and just the synopsis of the rest. Users can click on the rest of your posts to read the full contents.

Test Your Before and After Speed

Before you make any improvements to your site, test the speed of your site. You can use the tool at http://tools.pingdom.com, or any other similar tool.

After you’ve made changes, test your speed again. Has it improved?

This will give you a measurable metric for how you’re doing in your improvement efforts.

Improving the speed of your WordPress website isn’t as fun as writing posts or marketing your site, but it’s still an important step to take. It’s something you only need to do once.

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About the Author

Derek Pankaew
Derek Pankaew has been building internet businesses for over 5 years. He’s helped businesses go from startup to over $1 million per year, has built successful marketing campaigns in 4 different countries and has gotten new sites to over 30,000 visitors a month in under 60 days. His specialties include SEO, content marketing and increasing conversions.

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  • http://www.usefulgraphicdesigntutorials.com Graphic Design Tutorials

    Derek – this is a really useful article. It’s an important subject but scant info about it in one place.

    I do have a question though. W3 Total Cache is a meaty PlugIn. Can you point me in the right direction to clear instructions on how to set it up (and maintain it) properly?

    Caroline

  • Derek Pankaew

    Hi Caroline,

    Glad to be of help!

    I think these two sites should be able to point you in the right direction:

    http://zemalf.com/1443/w3-total-cache/
    http://www.wpbeginner.com/plugins/how-to-install-and-setup-w3-total-cache-for-beginners/

    I know it’s a meaty plugin and might take an hour or two to get running; but once you’re up you never have to touch it again.

    Cheers :)

  • http://www.squidoo.com/colon-hydrotherapy2 Clara

    Thanks for sharing the speed tool. Surprised me to see how widgets can slow a site down.

  • http://outdoorblogsite.com vernon

    Your article about speeding up word press sounds great.

    When you write these articles, how about the steps necessary to do them.

    Thanks

    Vernon

  • Susan Boston

    Hi Derke,
    Great blog :) I learned so much and I have been at this for a while now.

    I hope you don’t mind I republished your blog on my site. I am sure many people I know could benefit from your blog.

    Thanks,
    Susan Boston

  • http://binary-options-trading-system.weebly.com/ Grace Walker

    I was amazed reading this because I learned something new again. Something to add in my knowledge and I appreciate it so much. Keep on writing more informative articles.

  • http://newyorkmaidservice25.tumblr.com/post/17473980158/cleaning-service-brooklyn Michell Yue

    Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates. I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

  • http://www.aliceseba.com Alice Seba

    Hi Michell – Twitter actually has it’s own widget that does that. It’s right here: https://twitter.com/about/resources/widgets/widget_profile

    Hope that helps!

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