One of the most important aspects of a website, be it personal or company site, is the speed.While your website visitor (potential customers) are browsing your website, you want to provide them with the best experience, so speed is crucial. Website users are impatient, they want the access information quickly, without any waiting time. If a website takes more than 3 seconds to load, visitor will leave without the change of seeing your content.
Speed is also important for engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and others. Search bots will access and index your website, and will use different computing methods to calculate that accessibility and speed of the pages. The speed of your website can significantly affect the rankings.
That said, let’s see how you can speed up your WordPress blog by following some easy steps.
Choose a reliable WordPress host
The base of every website is web hosting. You can have the best website and the most useful content on the web, if your hosting provider sucks your website will suck as well. Depending on your website type and your budget, you need to find a suitable and good web hosting company that provides great features, quality support and great speed. For hosting your WordPress site, I recommend using BlueHost or InMotion hosting. Avoid at all cost using free web hosting, because these services will only harm your website by placing unwanted links and forced ads on your site and are extremely unreliable.
The ideal would be to buy a dedicated server, because this can provide the best performance, however renting this type of hosting plan is very expensive. A small WordPress blog will run smoothly on a shared hosting plan, while a website that receives a good amount of traffic will need to be placed on a VPS.
Use a content delivery network (CDN)
Using a content delivery network (CDN) helps you to save your websites content in the cloud and also to keep your website online in case your hosting fails. I recommend CloudFlare which can be installed very easily from cPanel and it’s free.
On average, a website on CloudFlare loads two times faster, uses 60% less bandwidth, has 65% fewer requests and is way more secure.
Use the official WordPress.org site
While many WordPress theme designer provide quick-start packages along with their downloadable themes, I highly suggest downloading the files from the official website WordPress.org . Here you will find the latest, stable and secure version of the software, and don’t have to deal with corrupted or infected files from other sources. Update your WordPress blog as soon as a new version is available.
If you don’t have the technical knowledge to install WordPress manually, you can use one-click installation tools such Fantastico or Softaculous. You can find these in your in Cpanel.By providing the some basic information such as username, password and email address you can get started with your blog within minutes. These tools use the latest version of WordPress and are downloading it from the official website.
Choose a lightweight WordPress theme
The theme can influence the loading speed a lot. The more files the theme is using, the slower your website will load. The best performance are provided by minimal themes, however most people dislike these. You will find the best themes on the official website: https://wordpress.org/themes/, where you can search by different colors, designs and features, all being checked by WordPress staff.
Another well maintained source is Theme Forest, where you can find premium themes with high quality design, well written code and support as well. You should choose a theme that has good reviews and is updated frequently.
Limit the number of installed plugins
Both the number of plugins and their complexity can affect the speed of your WordPress blog. You should install only the plugins you really need. If necessary, test multiple plugins and run a speed test with GT metrix or other online tool that can provide with an accurate test result on your website speed.
Optimize website content
The content can also impact the speed of your blog. You should only upload web-optimized images to your blog. Using an image editor software such as Photoshop, you can resize the images and save them for web use. Depending on the content you have on your website, it is recommended to not use too many images on the same page. If you can’t split the content in multiple parts, use a plugin such as Lazy Load that will only load the image when user is actually viewing it. This can save you lot of bandwidth as well help you to have a better loading time. If possible use external sources such as Youtube to host your content.
As the homepage is usually the most busiest page on your website, make sure that is well optimized. Displaying few of the latest posts with the excerpt of each, eventually a thumbnail can also help in improving the speed.
If you need to host high resolution images, you should create thumbnails and link those to the the photos you want to show. The images will only load when a user clicks the thumbnail, this way your website will display that content only on request.
Caching your website and reduce file size
With the use of a caching plugin such as W3 Total Cache can also help in making your website load faster and improve website performance. The plugin will optimize CSS and JS files and will minify your blog’s pages saving bandwidth and providing a better user experience.
Block unwanted users and bots
There are many useless bots that will access and crawl your website. There can also be hackers who will try to break into your system by constantly accessing your website trying to find a weak spot. These can also affect the loading time of your blog. With inserting few lines into the .htaccess file, you can ban these bots and range of IP addresses from accessing your website. You only want to allow real visitors on your website and ban as many fake clicks as possible. This tutorial will help you properly setting up the .htaccess file.
Probably there are other tricks that you can use to improve your blog’s speed and performance. If you think I missed something, please let me know in the comments.
If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more about WordPress, I recommend reading my other tutorial: Things to do After Installing WordPress.
BlueHost – Best WordPress Host
recommended also by WordPress.org