WordPress, as a platform, has made things easy for to set up a professional website or a blog. It is powerful and a robust platform with so much of developers making contributions to the community. The features it offers is huge as it can be extended with hundreds of free and premium plugins. But over time, as you add more and more features, the website tend to become slower.

Today, I will discuss some of the common mistakes that make wordpress slow. We will also look in to suggestions to make wordpress load faster than before.

Making Wordpress faster 2017

So, before we start, make sure you head over to Pingdom Tools or GTmetrix and note down your website loading time. Once it’s done, let’s get started.

1. Unnecessary Plugins

Every plugin you install in your wordpress adds few lines of additional code to every web page in your site. This additional overload is the cost that you pay for the added functionality.

Not all plugins are equally designed. Some would perform well with no impact to the website while others might have a huge impact to the site.

Now, open your wordpress dashboard and head to installed plugins. Have a check if all the plugins that you have installed are really helping your website or not. If not, remove them completely rather than deactivating it.

Wordpress plugins slowdown

My plugin suggestions would be one plugin in each of the following categories.

  • SEO Plugin
  • Cache Plugin
  • Social Share Plugin
  • Contact Form
  • Link management(for affiliates)

Alternatively you can use P3 Plugin Profiler to understand the impact of each plugin on every website.

2. Images And Other Media

A large part of your website is composed of images and other multimedia content. It is good to use images to attract more readers to your content. But if your readers have to spend some extra time to load the images, they are more likely to move away from your site.

So, use images that are a fit for your post. Using large images are not going to make any big difference. Use online services like JPEGmini or TinyPNG to compress your images before uploading. Additionally you can use WP Smush it plugin to auto-optimize your images.

Optimizing images for faster page load

Do not over use images for advertisements. You can use a maximum of three images/ads per page.

Tip: Use Lazy Load plugin to load images only when the user scrolls to the location of the image in the post.

3. Sidebar

We tend to add lots of content to our sidebar, sometimes even more than the post content itself. Be aware that not all readers view your sidebar. Keep only the ones that can attract your readers and remove others. This can reduce a ton of requests in all your posts and pages.

It is good to keep the entire design and layout simple as possible.

Also, in the homepage, keep a maximum of 6 – 8 latest post. It is the optimal number and will have a good balance between speed and content as well.

4. Web Hosting

Since WordPress is based on PHP, there are numerous hosts that support it. And so there lies the challenge in choosing the best one for your website/blog. Be aware that most of the hosts would lure you with cheap plans but would have so many limitation as you start using it. GoDaddy is one such host that I tried, but was very unhappy about it.

Website response time

If you are serious about writing content, then go for a premium hosting. You can even look for managed wordpress hosts who take care of all the updating and maintenance. If you don’t have much readers, then BlueHost or WPEngine is what I would recommend for. They offer decent hosting compared to the competition.

5. Ignoring Caching

Caching might take a little bit of space on your disk but the benefits it offer are multi-fold. It can drastically reduce the page loading time as well as user’s bandwidth. Using the cache can also reduce the requests to the server eventually.

If you are not using any caching plugin, then you are ignoring all the speed gains. W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache are the two best caching plugins in the wordpress marketplace.

6. Theme

Fast loading Blog template

If you are just starting out, then you would most probably look for free theme. But free is the cheapest you could get and so you cannot bank on them for speed.

The advantage of getting a paid/premium theme is that it would be optimally written to reduce server load as well as reducing the number of requests for the client.

7. Delivering Uncompressed files

Heard of GZip compression? It is one of the best compression method with very high output ratio. It can compress all your html, css or js files so as to reduce the page site.

And the best part is that most of the php hosts support this at a very basic level. So editing you .htaccess file in your host can get your GZip compression up and running. Add the following to the end of your .htaccess file.

<IfModule mod_deflate.c>
# Compress HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Text, XML and fonts
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/vnd.ms-fontobject
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-opentype
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-otf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-truetype
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-ttf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/opentype
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/otf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/ttf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/svg+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/x-icon
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml

# Remove browser bugs (only needed for really old browsers)
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4\.0[678] no-gzip
BrowserMatch \bMSIE !no-gzip !gzip-only-text/html
Header append Vary User-Agent
</IfModule>

If not code, you can use the plugin “Check and Enable GZIP compression” to activate it.

8. Javascript on page load

Most of the JavaScript code on the page run during the loading it making the rendering of the page even slower. This is because most JS files are loaded in the header. While it will be hard to move them to the footer, you came them load separately without affecting your page loading.

This is achieved by loading the js file asynchronously, i.e., loading other content in the file without waiting for the js to load.

You can use the plugin Async JavaScript for this purpose. It will make all the js files to load asynchronously.

Note: Most of the above mentioned plugins are very lightweight so that the impact on your website is very minimal or nil.

9. Miscellaneous

Delete all your spam comments so that your database size reduces and so queries run faster.

Use a CDN to enhance your caching of your content. They can also deliver cached content much faster than your host. Optimize your database by removing revisions, and other unnecessary data with WP-Optimize plugin. You can deactivate this once it finishes optimization.

If you are adding some other functionality, look for options to add it in code. Adding in code will give better results than using a plugin.

You can also set the cache headers using the htaccess file. This will help browsers to cache your content, making the loading faster for your readers.

To set cache, add the following code to the top of your htaccess file.

## EXPIRES CACHING ##
<IfModule mod_expires.c>
ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType image/jpg "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/gif "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/png "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType text/css "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType text/html "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/pdf "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType text/x-javascript "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType image/x-icon "access 1 year"
ExpiresDefault "access 1 month"
</IfModule>
## EXPIRES CACHING ##

Final Word

I have mentioned the best of all the techniques that I have tried in my blogging journey to make wordpress load faster. Once you do all of this, again run a speed test in Pingdom Tools or GTmetrix and see the difference for yourself. Let me know if this helped in the comments section below. Happy Blogging!

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