Tutorial: How to speed up WordPress
Fast loading websites have a lot of benefits: Designing WordPress for speed usually results in a higher customer satisfaction and better SEO results. Why? Because Google and surfers hate to wait for slow webpages to load. Therefore it is generally a good idea to optimize your WordPress installation for faster page load times. During this tutorial I’ll guide you through the complete proceess on how to speed up wordpress.
As a rule of thumb every page of your website should load in less than two seconds. Most pages of larger websites load within 1 to 2 seconds. Unless you are using a larger WooCommerce installation within your WordPress site which typically loads a bit slower you should aim for the mentioned 1 to 2 seconds with two seconds being the maximum.
Here are the main areas to think about:
Identify your bottom line first
Before you start optimizing your website for speed you should (edit: you must) identify your baseline. It`s really easy to identify your current page loading times. Head over to pingdom (https://tools.pingdom.com/ ) and type in the full URL (e.g. your http://www.domaint.tld) of your WordPress website. Choose the closest pingdom server and wait until the results are loaded. Pingdom will come up with several helpful information for you.
- The absolute time your page needed to load. Does your site need more than 2 seconds? Are you in the mentioned range of acceptable 1-2 seconds?
- Pingdom will also give you a percentage how many websites (in the world) are slower – and how many are faster.
- Further down the page you’ll find some helpful tips on improvement areas – like expiration settings or minification options (we’ll talk about it later on)
- There is an even more technical breakdown of every single piece of your analyzed page (a bit I similar to the developer tools you can plugin to chrome or firefox)
Of course you could even measure your personal load times if you like. You should repeat the bottom line assessment at least two or three times –ideally at different times of the day. Note your results down in writing.
Before you start speeding up your WordPress installation let me explain what slows down your website and what elements make it faster:
Choosing your plugins wisely
While a fresh WordPress install is usually pretty fast, page load time increase over time and making your visitors wait longer. The main cause for it: too many installed and activated plugins! Before adding another plugin to your WordPress blog you should rather considering not to us it. Though many plugins add valuable functions to your website every additional plugin slows down your site.
Your WordPress theme optimized for speed
Typically you choose your theme to realize your design ideas. Therefore a good theme should be a good fit for both your visitors and yourself as a WordPress administrator. The downside of it: like plugins you pay a price in performance lost when choosing a feature-heavy theme. Especially commercial themes come with lots of features which you get used over time (and might think you can’t live without). For instance: The Newspaper Theme – which I use here at WordPress-expert.info – has lots of useful and sometimes adorable features. When it comes to page load times such a “monster” theme requires additional work like using a caching plugin to accomplish acceptable load times.
Tipp: Even if you are not a WordPress developer – just count the file size of your desired WordPress theme. It is located underneath the wp-content/themes folder. Generally speaking less size in megabytes is equivalent to less code and will result in faster page load times.
A plugin to identify slow plugins
It may sound counter intuitive at first but there are a few good plugins that you may enable from time to time in order to identify the main performance blockers of your site.
Plugins like plugin profiler (which is provided free by Goodady by the way – thanks guys) will give you a good understanding what your WordPress backend is doing and why.
Important note: p3 profiler itself is rather a monster plugin in size. You only should use it for a few minutes or hours only until you find your performance hungry plugins. Please de-activate P3-profiler after you identified the main show-stoppers among your plugins.
Using cache for faster WordPress
When it comes to caching most people are a bit confused at first. Caching does several tasks at the same time. Depending on the caching mechanism this may take place at the webserver your WordPress sits on, inside WordPress itself or you may use a content delivery network (CDN).
- WordPress cache plugins aim to make speed up WordPress itself. We’ll talk about this in a minute. There are lots of caching plugins out there. We’ll also discuss how you can use a caching plugin later on.
- A content delivery network (CDN) is generally a good concept for almost any website. When using a CDN you place your static content like images on larger networks operated by Amazon, Rackspace or Onapp – just to name a few.
- Most likely your webhosting provider already added some features to your apache or nginx webserver to make the server itself faster. This may already include caching programs like varnish or some apache or nginx modules like mod_pagespeed