Why and How to Increase Your WordPress Blog’s Speed
Written by Derek Pankaew
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.
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.
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.