5 Foolproof Ways to Speed up Your WordPress Website

Pick any one perspective to look at the website’s loading speed metric and its significance: marketer, site owner, developer, SEO-wizard, even and especially the user. The speed metric will still appear on top. Look up web development best practices on as many sources as you can find, and you’ll see ‘reducing page load time’ somewhere within every single list.

We don’t even like waiting in line at the cashier’s counter at the Walmart, how’d you think we’d feel about an intangible clump of data in an age of wanton excesses?

It is, therefore, imperative to create websites that load faster (TTFB should be lower than 2 seconds). For better experience, for higher conversion, for top search ranks!

So what can be done to make WordPress websites faster? A lot, it seems, especially in these 5 areas:


1. Server

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This is where your website’s data lives. If a server maintains itself like a soup kitchen or Gotham’s back alleys, no amount of performance optimization will help you speed up your website.

So before signing on to a hosting provider, look out for:

  • Maintenance, backups, and security (for obvious reasons)
  • Scalability: How different plans weigh up in terms of visitors, data transfer, bandwidth, storage space, etc. and how you’ll be scaled up when you exceed some of the caps.
  • Client testimonials and support forums (They can reveal a lot about a company’s service record)
 Here are more things you can look into:
Ø  3rd Party Video Hosting

External or 3rd party video hosting is an excellent solution for those who use their server space and bandwidth judiciously.

It’s exactly what it says on the tin. (Only) The video files are hosted on a 3rd party server like Youtube, Vimeo, etc., which you can link to with your website (without calling a developer to mess with the API). Some of them also come with video editing tools and most of them offer support.

Just make sure to check the rights over video files (Privacy Policy) before signing up for this service.

Ø  Preventing Image Hotlinks

Image Hotlinking is an underrated evil.

It’s tantamount to stealing, and the worst part is that the offenders are often unaware of the severity of their actions. They are simply copying your image (to the keyboard) and pasting it straight in their rich text editor. So the image that shows up in their content is actually still stored in your server. Therefore, anyone who comes upon the image on their website will still be requesting your server to load the image. This eats up into your bandwidth.

And you won’t get a Thank You note.

There’s only so much that your naïve altruism should put up with. On internet, you protect your content or get penalized. Put this code goes in your .htaccess file:

RewriteEngine on

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} -f

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

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/images/stopstealing\.jpg$ [NC]

RewriteRule \.(jpg|jpeg|png)$ http://mywebsite.com/images/stopstealing.jpg [NC,R,L]

Also: Note that some Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) have a built-in Hotlink Prevention feature.


2. Cache

Caching Plugins like W3 Total Cache are one of the best things WordPress has to offer for page speed optimization (everyone loves it). The alternative (for less advanced users) is WP Super Cache.

The idea is to create copies (caches) of pages, objects, and databases; minify scripts, and integrate a WordPress website more easily with a content delivery network (CDN).

You can also hire WordPress developers to make the most of server-side performance optimization with database caching solutions like Redis and Memcached.

Ø  The Expiry Module

This Apache module sets the lifespan of cache for the file formats you specify.

Here is a streamlined way to use it: the <ifmodule>. It goes (into .htaccess file) like this:

<ifmodule mod_expires.c>

<Filesmatch “\.(jpg|png|gif|js|css|mp3|pdf)$”>

ExpiresActive on

ExpiresDefault “access plus 1 week”

</Filesmatch>

</ifmodule>

The above code snippet will set the cache files of every jpg/png/gif/JavaScript/CSS/mp3/and PDF file to expire after 1 week, at which point a fresh cache will be created. This module is perfect for use in rich-media websites who update their content regularly.

3. Front-End

Approximately 80% of performance issues will be solved by 20% effort into front-end speed optimization. It’s Pareto’s law of web development.

Optimizing front-end for speed isn’t just technically favorable. The sooner something happens on your user’s screen, the better he feels about waiting. You should give the impression of performance too.

To help with that, here are some methods you can employ:

  • Images: Compress like a maniac. The smaller your image/media size, the better. Use EWWW Image Optimizer or WP Smush.it for no-quality-loss compression. Then there is lazy load filter for conditional loading of images if the page area which contains said images are currently visible on user’s viewport. Use Lazy Load XT for this.
  • Decreasing HTTP requests means less roundtrips made, therefore improving loading times. Make ‘pattern’ images into a single sprite with Sprite Pad.
  • Minify JavaScript and CSS Stylesheets: rtl.css, style.css, and any custom ones you have added. Try not to use too many dependencies.

4. Database

Not unlike Disk Defragmentation tool in Windows, database optimization can clean up your back-end and free up space for important information while improving query times and performance.

Redundant post revisions, old unapproved comments, duplicate metadata et al are the cobwebs and dust bunnies. Clear them out with tools like WP Sweep, WP-DB Manager, etc.


5. Updates

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When you follow the discussions on Make.WordPress.org to keep yourself updated with the recent news and developments related to the platform (it’s a good habit for everyone, developers and general users alike), you’ll notice a pattern: the focus is always on user-friendliness, performance, and security… in that order.

WordPress automatically updates in case of minor releases (for the sake of security and minor bug fixes) unless you have the setting configured. That’s no good unless you actually upgrade to the latest version in the first place.

To reduce anxiety, follow this helpful pattern for updating:

  • Themes first: Ensure that you have a child theme (which will save any minor changes you may have made in the appearance). The update will apply to parent theme and this way you significantly reduce the chances of messing something up beyond repair.
  • Plugins next: Tackle them one-by-one. I know it’s tedious, but you’ll be more prepared and informed when one update causes compatibility issues. Note: This is also why ‘less is more’ when it comes to plugins.
  • WSOD Protocol: Do not run around like a headless chicken in case you come face-to-face with the White Screen of Death. There’s plenty of help available on the internet.

Endnote

Run regular security and maintenance to keep your website in top form.

Remember that speed optimization is an ongoing effort. Stay on your toes for the latest developments and best practices.

Author Bio: Lucy Barret is a Sr. WordPress developer for a lading WordPress Development Company, HireWPGeeks Ltd. She handles a team of developers who are experts of converting HTML to WordPress theme. She is also a blogger and loves to share her knowledge with the large community of WordPress.