wordpress-website-speed

Increase WordPress website Speed [Step by Step Guide]

Why is website speed important for Search engine ranking?

After the recent Google Hummingbird algorithm update, Google clearly said that they will prefer user experience in the ranking of a website.

Before this algorithm update Ranking was depended on quality backlinks, Social signals, On page SEO (Title and Description optimization with targeted keywords) etc.

But Today situation is changed. Day by day Google is becoming smarter like a virtual human. Now the ranking totally depends on USER EXPERIENCE. 

I know you are thinking now, what are the scale of a properly optimized website for users, what factors to care in optimizing a website for website visitors.

If I say the truth then there are tons of factors, google algorithm check before ranking a website. But from a user point of view, you should care for just a few things and you will notice a major boost in your search ranking.

  1. Quality content
  2. Website Speed
  3. Social Signals
  4. Quality Backlinks

These 4 things you should really care for proper optimization of your website. And Website speed is the 2nd most important factor behind search rankings.

Do you want to stay on a webpage which will take a long time to open?

I think no.

Have a look at this survey about website speed by Kissometrics.com

loading-time-report

Infographic courtesy by kissometrics.com

Do you know? google monitors every moment spent on your website by users?

Yes, When somebody visits your website by google search results, then google log in this on their server. If your website is slow then the user will immediately press the back button on his browser and then google records his action and make a report on the bounce rate of your website.

If the bounce rate is high then your website will push your website down in SERP and you will lose search ranking. Remember, how much value your content does not matter if your website’s bounce rate is high due to website speed then you will be pushed down in search results.

So it is much important to speed up your website immediately.

Now, How do you know the current performance of your website?

Just Go to GTMatrix.com put your website address in the search bar and press enter.

GTMatrix will analyze your website and show you the results in few moments. If your website performance is poor then it will also show you the reasons behind the slow speed of your website.

For an Idea see the image below.

gtmatrix-site-speed

In this tutorial, I will teach you how to properly increase your WordPress website speed.

So let’s start…

There are tons of tools and processes to speed up your website speed. Here I will discuss the most important tools and processes.

Table of Contents


  1. Good and fast Hosting Provider
  2. WordPress Caching Plugin
  3. CDN (Content Delivery Network)
  4. Your WordPress Theme
  5. Optimizing images
  6. Optimizing WordPress database
  7. Disable hotlinking and leaching
  8. Adding expires header to static resources
  9. Gravatar images adjustment
  10. Lazy load Plugin for images
  11. Controlling post revisions
  12. Pingbacks and trackbacks setting turning off
  13. Minifying HTML, CSS and Javascript
  14. Reduce HTTP Requests

1. Good and fast hosting provider

best-webhosting-provider

The most important thing which affects your website’s speed is the quality of your hosting provider.

If your web hosting provider has a slow Internet connection with creepy hardware then it directly affects the speed of your website.

Your web hosting plan also affects your website speed. If you have a shared hosting plan then it is possible, there are many other websites are currently running on your “shared server”. If any of them get’s a high traffic then this could directly decrease your server performance and slow down your website.

Whenever any of the websites hosted on your server receives a large traffic for a particular time then it significantly increases the load on your server and with your neighbor websites, it will also take your website down.

My suggestion is to go with a reliable web hosting provider with at least 99.99% uptime guaranty and if you have extra bucks in your pocket always go with VPS hosting.

Note: Don’t go with limited bandwidth because if your bandwidth exceeds then throwing you in a trouble, your website will also get down.

If it’s getting hard for you to take a decision on good web hosting providers then here are my suggestions.

Bluehost.com

Hostgator.com

Bigrock.com

In my opinion, they are the best hosting providers in the world. I have used Bigrock.com for years but currently, I am using Bluehost.com. Although those three are great hosting providers. The good thing about going with reliable hosting providers is, they don’t stuff their shared server with too many websites and keep their server clean. As a result, we get good server speed.

2. WordPress Caching Plugin

wordpress-cache-plugins

If you are using WordPress CMS for your website then I would suggest you install a good Catching plugin to optimize your website speed.

Caching plugin caches your web pages and stores it in static HTML format. When somebody queries for the pages, caching plugin serves the static page which is too fast to load because static pages have not many codes to read.

You can go with premium Catching plugin like WP Rocket ut there are also good free plugins in WordPress repository.

WP Fastest Cache, WP Super Cache, and WP Total cache are the best free caching plugins for WordPress websites.

There are no tuff configuration settings in these plugins. Just install and activate them and enable the caching from the plugin menu.

My recommendation: WP Fastest Cache ( I am personally using it)

3. CDN (Content Delivery Network)

CDN-network

The full form of CDN is a Content delivery network. As from the name it delivers your website content from the different locations of the world. 

Now you are thinking about why should we use a content delivery network.

Here is the answer – Suppose you have a website whose hosted server is located in Las Angeles USA. Now when anyone opens your website from India or Japan then it probably loads slowly because the data transfers via the optical cables joining the continents. It’s significantly slower because it has already a huge load of data transfer. There are millions of website queries executing at the same time and all data transfers via those optical cables.

Here we take help of CDN. It is a network of servers from all the countries. When you integrate your website with CDN, then CDN network stores your website data in it’s all the servers around the world. After that when somebody opens your website then it will serve the results from the nearest server of the user. The result is -fast content delivery and faster website speed.

CDN not only speed up your website but it will provide extra security to your website. When your website receives high traffic from a particular server due to any virus or hacking attack it blacklists this particular server for some time and protects your website.

CDN has also Minify feature which minifies your websites CSS, Scripts etc and serves a fast loading website to users.

There are many Content Delivery networks are available. I am mentioning some good names here you can choose from them.

MaxCDN (Premium)

Incapsula (Premium)

Amazon’s AWS (Premium)

Cloudflare (Free-Premium)

For free users, Cloudflare is the best platform, as they give all standard features of CDN with their free subscriptions.

4. Your WordPress Theme

Your WordPress theme plays a big role in speeding up your website. All the WordPress themes claim that they load faster and speedup up your websites but this is not true. Not all themes have good clean codes and they do not follow all the guidelines of WordPress creating the theme.  

Especially free themes do not follow the WordPress theme creation guidelines. This not only slows down your websites but make your site vulnerable to hackers. My personal suggestion is to go with only premium faster-loading themes. It will cost few extra bucks but for a successful professional website, it is not too much.

Now you are wondering, before purchasing, how to know which theme will load fast. Here is the catch. Just put the demo URL of the theme which you want to buy, on gtmatrix.com and check the loading speed. It will give you a basic idea of how fast is that theme.

You can check out Themeforest for purchasing premium themes at low cost. They have a wide verity of WordPress themes and plugins you can choose from.

5. Optimizing images

Do you know, the big size of images is the biggest enemy of your website speed? Yes, if you are using big-sized high-resolution images on your website then it significantly slows down your website. Images are the main obstruction when you are thinking about speeding up your website. If you change the resolution of an image then the result is a cracked and choppy image.

So what is the solution?

Use Image Optimizer Plugins in your WordPress website. Image optimizer plugins compress the images without losing any resolution and give a great website speed with the better user experience. There are no heavy configuration settings in using these plugins. Just install and press the optimize button in the plugin menu. They will compress all the previous images uploaded on your website. As well as they will compress the future images during the uploading process.

There are many Image optimizers available on the market but I prefer only two of them.

WP-Smushit (Free – Premium)

WP-Short Pixel (Free – Premium)

6. Optimizing WordPress database

WordPress database also plays a big role in the speed of your website. When you install and uninstall several plugins and themes then your database slows down with time. So you should optimize your WordPress website database on a regular basis.

There are two ways to optimize your database.

  1. From phpMyAdmin in Cpanel.
  2. Using a WordPress plugin.

If you want to optimize your database from phpMyAdmin then here is the process.

Open Cpanel of your website and go to phpMyAdmin in the Cpanel menu.

 

phpmyadmin-cpanel

Then

  1. Select your database
  2. Check all
  3. Select the optimize table from the drop-down menu
  4. Press the go button

optimize-database

If you don’t want to open Cpanel then you can go with a database optimizer plugin for WordPress.

Here are some free options. You can choose between them.

Caution: Before optimizing your database please backup your website and database.

7. Disable hotlinking and leaching

Hotlinking and leaching are bad for a website as it decreases your website’s speed. 

Before go for disabling hotlinking and leaching we should know what is hotlinking?

Hotlinking is a process of linking your files to another website. When someone hotlinks your websites image and other files with their contents then whenever somebody opens his website, it draws your bandwidth. The main reason behind hotlinking is to save their websites bandwidth and it also takes less work to create a content, skipping the downloading and uploading process of that image to their website.

They just take the URL of your image file and link that URL with the content of their website. Now, whenever someone opens his website, the image file linked to your website also opens via your server and it costs bandwidth from your hosting plan.

Now, what is the solution?

Just go to your Cpanel and turn off Hotlinking and leaching.

hotlinking-and-leech-protection

8. Adding expires header to static resources

When you apply expires headers on your website then it makes a static copy of your web pages in the browser for a particular time and whenever the user reopens that page the browser shows the stored content. This process significantly increases your website speed. There are 2 processes to apply expires headers on your WordPress website.

  1. Editing your .htaccess file
  2. Via a plugin 

If you want to edit your .htaccess file then you have to open it in your CPanel’s file manager and just add the following lines.

<IfModule mod_expires.c>
# Enable expirations
ExpiresActive On 
# Default directive
ExpiresDefault "access plus 1 month"
# My favicon
ExpiresByType image/x-icon "access plus 1 year"
# Images
ExpiresByType image/gif "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/png "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/jpg "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access plus 1 year"
# CSS
ExpiresByType text/css "access plus 1 month"
# Javascript
ExpiresByType application/javascript "access plus 1 year"
</IfModule>

Caution: Download a backup copy of your .htaccess file before making a change.

If you are not as much tech savvy then just download and install WordPress’s Far Future Expiration Plugin and follow the setup process shown in the plugin menu.

9. Gravatar images adjustment

Gravatar images are globally recognized avatars which you can set up directly from the gravatar website.

When you setup gravatar for your post’s authorship and after that when somebody opens your blog posts, the image loads everytime from the server of Gravatar.com

This process decreases your website performance and speed. So you have to copy Gravatar images locally on your server. To Do this you have to simply install a free plugin from WordPress called Optimize Gravatar Avatar

This plugin copy your Gravatar image from the Garvatar.com server and stores it on your local server. Now, when someone opens your website it shows your the Gravatar image from your local server, hence increase the loading time of your pages.

10. Lazy load Plugin for images

Lazy load plugins are very useful in increasing your websites speed. They prevent loading of images before the page loads on the browser and shows the content instead. The beauty of lazy load plugins is, after applying it the images load step by step when you scroll the content. It significantly increases the speed of your website.

My Favourite lazy load plugins from the free WordPress repository is

A3 Lazy Load Plugin

I am personally using it. Give a try and you will feel the change in the loading speed of your website.

11. Controlling post revisions

WordPress has a great feature called post revision. When you write a post and save it as a draft then you have been noticed there is a revisions menu appears below the post in the post editor. WordPress saves all the revisions which you have changed in the process of writing a post.

This default autosave revisions significantly slow down your website. So if you don’t need this feature, I suggest you disable this feature. It decreases the load on your server and database and speeds up your website.

By default, this feature is enabled in WordPress but you can disable it anytime.

Just put the following code in your wp-config.php file and it will disable post revisions in WordPress.

define('AUTOSAVE_INTERVAL', 300 ); // seconds
define('WP_POST_REVISIONS', false );
 
You can open wp-config.php file in Cpanel’s File manager.
 
Caution: Make a backup copy of your wp-config.php file in your CPanel.
With the above code you can disable the future revisions but if you have to disable the past revisions then you have to run a SQL query in your PHPMyAdmin. just open the query section of your PHPMyAdmin database and paste this code in query section of the database. This will delete all the past revisions stored in your database. 
DELETE FROM wp_posts WHERE post_type = "revision";
Caution: Backup your database before applying any changes.

12. Pingbacks and trackbacks setting turning off

Pingbacks and trackbacks are special features of WordPress. When this feature is enabled on your dashboard, whenever you publish a post on your website, and links someone’s post in your post, your post automatically sends a ping to their website. And your post appears in the comment moderation section of that blog. 

But now this Trackback and Pingback feature is using by spammers and it is advised to turn off this feature. if it is enabled it will affect your website traffic.

To turn off this feature just go to your WordPress dashboard’s Settings » Discussion menu and turn off “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) on new articles

disable-trackbacks-and-pingbacks

It will only turn off Pingback and trackback for your future posts. 

If you want to turn off this feature for your past posts then click here. to read the special article about disabling it. This brief tutorial will give you the whole idea of Trackbacks and pingbacks as well as teach you how to turn off it fully.

13. Minifying HTML, CSS and Javascript

When any web pages load on the browser than before loading the page it receives a bunch of codes in form of HTML, Javascript, and CSS stylesheets. Some website pages have many unnecessary codes which are not essential to show that particular page. Due to these unnecessary codes webpage loads slowly. 

Minifying HTML, Java scripts and CSS compress the codes in one file and removes unnecessary codes. As a result, it decreases page loading time.

There are many methods to minify the codes. 

You can use CDN network to minify the codes. Many CDN networks have minified feature added with their subscription.

Cache plugins also have minified features. But the best method is to install a dedicated minify plugin on your WordPress site. 

I am using Merge+Minify+Refresh plugin and happy with this. It’s free of cost in the WordPress Plugin directory.

14. Reduce HTTP Requests

Our main motive is to reduce HTTP requests by applying all the above processes.

What are HTTP Requests?

Ans: When somebody searches for a site in his browser, the browser sends a number of HTTP requests to the web site’s server and after executing those requests, the server sends the data to the browser. The numbers of HTTP requests depends on the webpage’s functions and codes.

Website loading time is directly proportional to the number of HTTP requests. A webpage with many HTTP requests takes a long time to load. According to gtmatrix.com, a webpage is good below 80 HTTP requests.

If we apply all the above processes then this will reduce a significant amount of HTTP requests.

Note: We can also reduce HTTP requests by uninstalling unnecessary plugins.

Conclusion

In clear words, if you want to rank in google and other search engines then you have to speed up your website. A fast website will get a better user engagement and the result is high rankings in search engines.

If you liked this post then share it with your friends and social media. Sharing my work will encourage me to write future helpful articles.

2 thoughts on “Increase WordPress website Speed [Step by Step Guide]”

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