Unfortunately you can’t just install a plugin and expect a dramatic load time difference. There are numerous factors involved in determining why your website loads so slow. You owe it to yourself, your clients and people searching for your products or services to take the necessary steps to improve your website performance. Otherwise Google will penalize and deem your site inappropriate to put you in the coveted page one in organic search results.
NOTE: This post has been updated in May 2014 and reflects the best approach to speed up your website.
Minimum Time commitment: 2 Hours
*****Before you go further, take extra precautions and PLEASE BACKUP YOUR WEBSITE! (Recommended Plugins: Duplicator or UpdraftPlus Backups) *************
Step 1: Check your hosting company.
Is it time to upgrade from your cheap shared hosting to a dedicated hosting plan?
If you are uncertain, here are two ways to find out:
1) Check out how many other sites are being hosted on the same server as your website:
Any site in this list can potentially harm your website and rankings and can slow down your website performance. I checked all my clients and one had over 1000 sites hosted on their server!
2) Google PageSpeed Insights
Enter your domain into Google PageSpeed Insights. If one of the issues raised is ‘Server response time’, then its time to switch to a faster host.
A fully managed WordPress Hosting Solution
Step 2: Check your website performance
All listed are free ways to test your website performance:
Pingdom Speed Test Tool
The Pingdom Speed Test Tool will give you some quick information about the speed of your site. This doesn’t just relate to server speed, it will give you a lot of useful and actionable information. Load time test guide.
- Under 1 second is excellent
- Under 2 seconds is good
- Anything around 5 seconds or more requires action
Step 3: Take Inventory and Action
There are many factors that contribute to sluggish performance.
Carefully go through the results of your performance report and try to eliminate any issues line by line.
- Too many plugins installed. Take an inventory of your plugins. 20+ plugins will cause issues.
A temporary plugin to install is Godaddy’s P3 Performance Plugin Profiler. This plugin creates a profile of your WordPress site’s plugins’ performance by measuring their impact on your site’s load time. Often times, WordPress sites load slowly because of poorly configured plugins or because there are so many of them. By using the P3 plugin, you can narrow down anything causing slowness on your site. (Don’t forget to uninstall when you are done)
- Too many extraneous Themes installed. Delete any themes that you aren’t using. These themes often offer a way in for malicious code.
- Too many non-optimized images on your site. Use a plugin like Smushit
Yahoo’s excellent Exceptional Performance series recommends optimizing images in several lossless ways:stripping meta data from JPEGs
optimizing JPEG compression
converting certain GIFs to indexed PNGs
stripping the un-used colours from indexed imagesSmush.it offers an API that performs these optimizations (except for stripping JPEG meta data) automatically, and this plugin seamlessly integrates Smush.it with WordPress.
- Too many scripts running. This is also related to the plugins installed. Videos, chats, social sharing. Your report will tell you which are resource intensive
Step 4: Install a Performance Caching plugin:
- W3 Total Cache (for advanced users – but you will get better results)
Description: Easy Web Performance Optimization (WPO) using caching: browser, page, object, database, minify and content delivery network support.
Requires: 3.2 or higher
Compatible up to: 3.9.1
Last Updated: 2014-4-4
4.5 out of 5 stars
- w3 Total Cache Ebook (installation instructions)
- or WP Super Cache (easier to install – alternative to W3 for various compatibility reasons)
Description: This plugin generates static html files from your dynamic WordPress blog. After a html file is generated your webserver will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive WordPress PHP scripts.
Requires: 3.0 or higher
Compatible up to: 3.9.1
Last Updated: 2014-4-17
4.2 out of 5 stars
Step 5: Sign-up for MaxCDN (Content Delivery Network)
Dan Norris, Co-Founder of WPCurve just wrote a detailed post on how their company reduced their load time from a dismal grade of 63/100 with 5.8 seconds to load to under 1 second.
It’s definitely worth a read and to go through the steps they took to get there.
Here’s the article: WordPress speed – How to reduce your load time to under 1 second
Note: There are affiliate links in this article, but we would not recommend anything that hasn’t been used and tested personally. But please understand that everyone has different levels of skill and different experiences and we will not hold ourselves liable. Please use at your discretion. If you don’t know what you are doing it is always advised to hire professionals. Don’t forget to always backup your website before making any changes.
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