Although both servers and Internet connections in modern world have become robust, still it is believed by SEOs that load time is a part of Google’s algorithm and it plays role in SERP rankings. WordPress has become the most popular blogging tool on the earth but one of its drawbacks is its poor load times when configured improperly. If your website or blog is powered by WordPress, then you need to consider some optimization tips to ensure that it loads quickly.
The tips, which I am going to share with you in this post, are proven in improving load time of WordPress powered blogs. A few months back, my blog’s load time wasn’t too good. So I turned towards its optimization for speed and after a few customizations, now its load time is superb and it loads quickly even on slower networks. Consider my tips to improve your blog’s load time if its load time is poor. Here we go.
OPTIMIZING WORDPRESS FOR SPEED
Use a Light Theme: The most important factor, which decides either your blog loads quickly or not, is its theme. A well optimized lighter theme with fewer scripts loads quickly even on a shared hosting while an unoptimized theme with a lot of scripts, with too many widgets and with unoptimized images slows down your blog even on a VPS or Dedicated server.
So before choosing the theme for your blog, never just look over its beauty. Some themes may look too attractive for your eyes, but they mostly contain too many scripts. Too ensure that your blog’s theme doesn’t slow it down, first test its load time. A theme with fewer HTTP requests and with optimized elements will give your blog a superb load time. To check either your chosen theme is good for speed or not, you can use GTMetrix tool.
Use Caching Plugins: WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache are two great plugins which enable caching for your files and improve your blog’s load time considerably. I’m using W3 Total Cache here on my blog. It is the most aggressive caching plugin available for WordPress but sometimes it breaks the CSS of the themes.
If W3 Total Cache plugin breaks your theme’s CSS, then deactivate and uninstall it and use WP Super Cache which improves the load time of WordPress without interfering with styling scripts. To learn how to configure W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache, Google it to find some good tutorials if you face any difficulty in configuring the plugins.
Use Optimized Images: Images eat a lot of bandwidth and unoptimized images are one of the biggest reasons for slower load times of blogs and websites. Before uploading images to your server, optimize them using any compressing tool or save the images by defining a lower quality for them if you are using PhotoShop. Always save the images in a smaller resolution and in web-recommended formats.
In addition, install and activate WP Smush.it plugin. This plugin automatically optimizes your images when they are uploaded to the server. WP Smush.it doesn’t have any settings to be configured and it starts working soon after you install and activate it.
Hosting Provider: Performance of your blog’s hosting provider is yet another crucial element which decides either your blog loads quickly or not. Over past few years, several affordable hosts have become too slow after EIG purchased them. Unluckily, these hosts were the first and instant choice of many bloggers including me.
If you are hosting your blog with Bluehost, iPage, HostGator and Hostmonster, you will realize that their load time isn’t good anymore as once it was in the past. In such a situation, you many need to search for a better hosting provider. Some recommendations include StableHost, MDDHosting and MyHosting. They are affordable as well as better than several other “POPULAR” hosting providers.
Alternatively, you may need to go for a VPS or Dedicated hosting provider too if your blog’s traffic has grow a lot. WiredTree, LiquidWeb and EuroVPS are some recommended VPS hosting providers. Among dedicated hosting providers, SoftLayer has a solid reputation.
These were most important factors which have strong impact on load time of any WordPress blog. Now lets discuss about some other optimizations which can improve your blog’s load time further.
Using a CDN: CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) can improve your blog’s load time greatly as these networks have a global network of their fast and powerful servers. Once configured, they fetch your blog’s content and deliver the content quickly to your audience. They serve the visitors according to their geo locations. For example if your blog receives a visitor from United States, a server of the configured CDN in US will serve that visitor. Alternatively if another visitor visits your blog from India or Pakistan, a server of that CDN in Asia will deliver the content.
In such a way, CDNs greatly speed up WordPress powered blogs. MaxCDN is one of the rapidly growing premium CDNs while Google PageSpeed Service, Cloudfront and Cloudflare can also be used for delivering content across the entire globe. CDNs save your bandwidth by reducing requests to original server as well as they filter and block automatic bots to your blog which results in great improvements in your blog’s overall performance.
Use Fewer Plugins: Avoid installing unnecessary plugins as plugins add more and more scripts to your blog and result in poor load times there. Always try to use few plugins. If you believe that a plugin isn’t necessary, deactivate and delete it. By doing so, you can reduce the amount of scripts on your blog.
Disable Hotlinking: When hotlinking is left enabled, others may use your content’s direct links to embed the content on their webpages. Images are the most featured contents which are embedded by webmasters using direct links from other blogs. It overloads the original server by consuming its resources and as a result, the original blog hosted at that server becomes slow.
cPanel allows you to disable hotlinking for different files with ease. Disable hotlinking from there to ensure that your content isn’t hotlinked from other pages. It will protect your server’s resources to be consumed by others.
So these were some tips which will help in optimizing your WordPress blog for speed. Improve your blog’s load time and perform better in SERPs. Remember that your blog’s load time impacts SERP rankings. If you need any help in optimizing your blog for a better load time, let me know in comments.