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15

Easy Ways To Speed Up


WordPress
WordPress is a great platform. One weakness that
it suffers from, however, is it can be quite slow.
Without taking the right precautions, you could end up with a sluggish
site.
Thats not only a hassle for repeat visitors but will cause you to lose
subscribers and customers.
In this quick post, Ill cover all of the best ways that Ive found to
consistently speed up WordPress.

Why Site Speed Is Important


When a person lands on your site for the first time, you only have a few
seconds to capture their attention to convince them to hang around.
Get ready to lose sleep at night: according to a report by the
Microsoft Bing search team, a 2-second longer delay in page
responsiveness reduced user satisfaction by 3.8%, increased lost revenue
per user by 4.3%, and a reduced clicks by 4.3%.
If your site takes too long to load, most people are gone, lost before you
even had a chance.
Not only that, but Google now includes site speed in its ranking

algorithm. That means that your sites speed effects SEO, so if your site is
slow, youre now losing visitors from impatience and reduced rankings in
search engines. Yikes.
Lets fix that.

How To Speed Up WordPress


As a side note, these are not ordered by importance or any criteria, Ive
just gathered everything Ive learned about speeding up page loads on
WordPress and compiled them here.
I guarantee that using even a few will help speed up your site.

1. Choose a good host


When starting out, a shared host might seem like a bargain (Unlimited
page views!). It comes at another cost: incredibly slow site speed and
frequent down time during high traffic periods.
If you plan on publishing popular stuff, youre killing yourself by running
your WordPress site on shared hosting.
The stress of your site going down after getting a big feature is enough to
create a few early gray hairs: dont be a victim, invest in proper hosting.
The only WordPress host I continually recommend is
WP Engine managed WordPress hosting
My sites are always blazingly fast, never have downtime when I get huge
features (like when I was featured on the Discovery Channel blog!), and
the back-end is very easy to use.

Last but not least, support is top notch, which is a must when it comes to
hosting. Take it from someone whos learned that the hard way.
Head on over to the WP Engine homepage and check out their
offerings, youll be happy you did.

2. Start with a solid framework/theme


You might be surprised to here this, but the Twenty Fifteen framework
(aka the default WP theme) is lightweight and quite speedy.
Thats because they keep the guts simple; compare that to bloated
frameworks which have tons of features that you will never use, slowing
your site to a crawl.
From my experience, the fastest loading premium framework is definitely
the Thesis Theme Framework. It surpasses the basic WordPress
themes by being far easier to customize.
Its an incredibly solid framework that wont slow you down with excess
plugins or custom edits. Make the changes right from the theme and
avoid bloat, hoorah!

3. Use an eecEve caching plugin


WordPress plugins are obviously quite useful, but some of the best fall
under the caching category, as they drastically improve page loads time,
and best of all, all of them on WP.org are free and easy to use.
By far my favorite, bar none, is W3 Total Cache, I wouldnt recommend
or use any other caching plugin, it has all of the features you need and is
extremely easy to install and use.

Simply install and activate, and what your page load faster as elements
are cached.

4. Use a content delivery network (CDN)


All of your favorite big blogs are making use of this, and if you are into
online marketing using WordPress (as Im sure many of my readers are)
you wont be surprised to here that some of your favorite blogs like
Copyblogger are making use of CDNs.
Essentially, a CDN, or content delivery network, takes all your static files
youve got on your site (CSS, Javascript and images etc) and lets visitors
download them as fast as possible by serving the files on servers as close
to them as possible.
I personally use the Max CDN Content Delivery Network on my
WordPress sites, as Ive found that they have the most reasonable prices
and their dashboard is very simple to use (and comes with video tutorials
for setting it up, takes only a few minutes).
There is a plugin called Free-CDN that promises to do the same, although
I havent tested it.

5. OpEmize images (automaEcally)


Yahoo! has an image optimizer called Smush.it that will drastically
reduce the file size of an image, while not reducing quality.
However, if you are like me, doing this to every image would be beyond a
pain, and incredibly time consuming.
Fortunately, there is an amazing, free plugin called WP-SmushIt which
will do this process to all of your images automatically, as you are

uploading them. No reason not to install this one.

6. OpEmize your homepage to load quickly


This isnt one thing but really a few easy things that you can do to ensure
that your homepage loads quickly, which probably is the most important
part of your site because people will be landing there the most often.
Things that you can do include:
Show excerpts instead of full posts
Reduce the number of posts on the page (I like showing between 5-7)
Remove unnecessary sharing widgets from the home page (include
them only in posts)
Remove inactive plugins and widgets that you dont need
Keep in minimal! Readers are here for content, not 8,000 widgets on
the homepage
Overall, a clean and focused homepage design will help your page not
only look good, but load quicker as well.

7. OpEmize your WordPress database


Im certainly getting a lot of use out of the word optimize in this post!
This can be done the very tedious, extremly boring manual fashion, or
You can simply use the WP-Optimize plugin, which I run on all of my
sites.
This plugin lets you do just one simple task: optimize the your database
(spam, post revisions, drafts, tables, etc.) to reduce their overhead.
I would also recommend the WP-DB Manager plugin, which can

schedule dates for database optimization.

8. Disable hotlinking and leeching of your


content
Hotlinking is a form of bandwidth theft. It occurs when other sites
direct link to the images on your site from their articles making your
server load increasingly high.
This can add up as more and more people scrape your posts or your site
(and especially images) become more popular, as must do if you create
custom images for your site on a regular basis.
Place this code in your root .htaccess file:

disable hotlinking of images with forbidden or


custom image option
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER}
!^http(s)?://(www\.)?sparringmind.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER}
!^http(s)?://(www\.)?google.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER}
!^http(s)?://(www\.)?
feeds2.feedburner.com/sparringmind [NC]
RewriteRule \.(jpg|jpeg|png|gif)$ [NC,F,L]

Youll notice I included my feed (from FeedBurner), youll need to replace


it with your feeds name, otherwise your images wont appear correctly

there.

9. Add an expires header to staEc resources


An Expires header is a way to specify a time far enough in the future so
that the clients (browsers) dont have to re-fetch any static content (such
as css file, javascript, images etc).
This way can cut your load time significantly for your regular users.
You need to copy and paste the following code in your root .htaccess file:

ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType image/gif A2592000
ExpiresByType image/png A2592000
ExpiresByType image/jpg A2592000
ExpiresByType image/jpeg A2592000

The above numbers are set for a month (in seconds), you can change
them as you wish.

10. Adjust Gravatar images


Youll notice on this site that the default Gravatar image is set to well,
nothing.
This is not an aesthetic choice, I did it because it improves page loads by
simply having nothing where there would normally be a goofy looking
Gravatar logo or some other nonsense.
Some blogs go as far to disable them throughout the site, and for

everyone.
You can do either, just know that it will at least benefit your site speed if
you set the default image (found in Discussion, under the settings tab
in the WordPress dashboard) to a blank space rather than a default
image.

11. Add LazyLoad to your images


LazyLoad is the process of having only only the images above the fold
load (i.e. only the images visible in the visitors browser window), then,
when reader scrolls down, the other images begin to load, just before they
come into view.
This will not only speed you page loads, it can also save bandwidth by
loading less data for users who dont scroll all the way down on your
pages.
To do this automatically, install the jQuery Image Lazy Load plugin.

12. Control the amount of post revisions


stored
I saved this post to draft about 8 times.
WordPress, left to its own devices, would store every single one of these
drafts, indefinitely.
Now, when this post is done and published, why would I need all of those
drafts stored?
Thats why I use the Revision Control plugin to make sure I keep post

revisions to a minimum, set it to 2 or 3 so you have something to fall back


on in case you make a mistake, but not too high that you clutter your
backend with unnecessary amounts of drafted posts.

13. Turn o pingbacks and trackbacks


By default, WordPress interacts with other blogs that are equipped with
pingbacks and trackbacks.
Every time another blog mentions you, it notifies your site, which in turn
updates data on the post. Turning this off will not destroy the backlinks
to your site, just the setting that generates a lot of work for your site.
For more detail, read this explanation of WordPress Pingbacks,
Trackbacks and Linkbacks.

14. Replace PHP with staEc HTML, when


necessary
This one is a little bit advanced, but can drastically cut down your load
time if you are desperate to include page load speeds, so I included it.
Id be doing this great post injustice if I didnt link to it for this topic, as
it taught me how to easily do this myself, in a few minutes.
So go there and check it out, it wrote it out in plainer terms than I ever
could!

15. Use CloudFlare


This is similar to the section above on using CDNs, but Ive become so
fond of CloudFlare since I discussed it in my best web analytics post

that Ive decided to include it separately here.


To put it bluntly, CloudFlare, along with the W3 Total Cache plugin
discussed above, are a really potent combination (they integrate with
each other) that will greatly improve not only the speed, but the security
of your site.
Both are free!

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