WordPress websites power over half of the websites on the internet today, it’s even used to power the blog you’re reading right now. However while WordPress sites are very good for most users they can also be very bloated and inefficient. If you’re finding that your website is loading slower and slower than it might be time to do an audit on your page so you can speed it up. Speed of loading is extremely important because studies show most people will abandon a website if it doesn’t load within the first 3-4 seconds. With such little time to spare it’s more important than ever to build an effective and fast loading site.
How can I tell what my load time is?
Using an awesome website called Pingdom you can run a speed test to determine how fast your website loads and how you can improve upon its performance. The tools lets you test the speeds from different locations, if you’re a local business it’s best to pick the location closest to you.
As you can see in the shot down below there is a little work to do on the Performance, but overall the speed isn’t too bad. The site gives you a snapshot of the page size and shows where you stand in comparison to the other websites that have been tested. Under this main part of the screen there are some suggestions on how you can fix any issues with your site. It’s a great starting point when you want to speed up your website.
1. Disable any unnecessary plugins.
In WordPress you can open up the Plugin dashboard to get a listing of the plugins that are installed already on the website. If you notice there are some plugins on the website that really aren’t being used than you should really disable and uninstall them. Having too many scripts and plugins loading will increase the amount of time it takes for your page to load. It’s also a good idea to consider if there are any plugins that aren’t really worth having. I have been told in the past that too many randomize type plugins can cause you to have high I/O usage on your server, which will cause slowdowns to occur when the site is under high usage.
2. Install a plugin to protect from Brute Force attacks and Viruses.
A plugin like WordFence is designed to protect your WordPress from issues like Brute Force attacks, Viruses, and Malware. A Brute Force attack is when someone uses random guesses in hopes to guess a password correctly. When a bot program attempts to hack into your website it can use quite a large amount of resources, even if the bot cannot get into your website.
As for viruses and malware, this can come in the form of untrusted plugins and hacks. Having something like WordFence can help scan your website on a regular basis and keep you safe from potential harm. There are other plugins out there similar as well, but I do not have any personal experience with them.
3. Keep your plugins updated.
Outdated plugins can not only become a security issue, it can cause usability issues for your WordPress as well. By keeping your plugins and WordPress install up to date than you can help ensure your site will stay safer and efficient . It’s a great idea to run a back up before doing the updates in case there are any compatibility issues that might cause your site to crash. The JetPack plugin for WordPress offers an option for backups that can help you keep things in order. Many web hosts also offer options to assist you in keeping your backups managed, it might not be a bad idea for you to reach out to your hosting customer support to find out options that might exist.
It’s worth noting that WordPress offers options for updating easily. WordPress automatically can update itself and will alert you when plugins need updates. Despite all of this, it’s still important to make sure every so often that everything is working as it should.
4. Use a Cache Plugin.
A cache is a set of stored files in a specific location used for the purpose of speeding up load times. In computing we use caches in memory and hard drives as well as online. When you load a website many pieces of that page are stored in a specific cache location on your hard drive. Next time you visit the page those pieces are loaded directly from your own hard drive instead of the server the page is stored on. This creates a faster loading time. A cache plugin is used to do something very similar on your site. These types of plugin take dynamic code such as php and convert them over to static code such as HTML.
Popular versions of these plugin types include WP Super Cache, Autoptimize, and WP Fastest Cache. Each one has its own pros and cons for you so it would help to research a little bit before picking which one to use. All of these programs contain free and paid features.
5. Look into a quality web host.
Getting a quality web host is important if you’re looking for some good load times. All of the optimization in the world will not help you if your server is experiencing frequent slowdowns or downtime. With shared hosting many times it may not even be the fault of your own website. When there are many sites on a shared server it can effect everyone when there’s a usage hog.
My suggestion would be to swing on over to the suggested web host section of the website to see hosts that are well known for providing great support and a quality hosting experience. It also is a good idea to reach out to your current host to see if they can offer up some explanation as to what is going on.