The performance of your WordPress site can be integral to its success. It’s said that a visitor will abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Not to mention, a site’s overall performance can affect its ranking in search engines. Keeping your site at peak performance is an absolute must. Implementing some of the following tips will help keep your WordPress site running tip-top.
Pick a solid host
Easily one of the most important steps for ensuring you have a solidly performing site is to pick a reliable hosting provider. While there are many cheap options available, the old adage, “you get what you pay for” rings true for WordPress hosting. Do your homework and pick a provider that promises great performance for your site. We typically recommend WP Engine, but here are a few other options to choose from for Managed WordPress Hosting.
Choose an efficient theme
Themes aren’t just about visuals — a well-designed theme can make or break a WordPress site’s performance. When choosing one, be sure to research the theme’s loading times and performance. Look for sites that are using the theme and do your own testing using the Google Page Speed Test or Pingdom’s Free Testing Tool.
Use a Content Delivery Network
A content delivery network (CDN for short) can provide a massive performance boost in page-loading speeds and decrease bandwidth usage. A CDN hosts copies of your files on various servers across the world, so that when a user accesses your site from a different part of the globe, they’ll download the site from a data center closest to them. A CDN can be quite involved to setup, but is easily one of the single best things you can do to improve site performance for all of your users.
Minify your code
The idea is that all of the code is compiled into one central file and compressed so there’s no delay in the browser retrieving the code. Plugins such as Better WordPress Minify and WP Super Minify can accomplish this for you.
Optimize your database
By default, WordPress saves everything in your database, such as linkbacks, post revisions, and even trashed items. This can be useful in certain situations, but the result is that your database can quickly become bogged down with old, useless data.
WP-DBManager and WP-Optimize are just a few plugins available for helping you optimize and clean up your database, but be sure you run backups before tackling this one.
Images are the biggest bandwidth bottleneck on any website. WordPress is no different. There’re a few plugins available that can compress images for you, such as WP Smush.it and Tiny PNG. The best part about these plugins is that they’re completely “lossless,” which means you won’t see any quality loss in your images.
Turn off Pingbacks and Trackbacks
A quick and simple performance improvement is to disable Pingbacks and Trackbacks. These are blog networking features that alert other sites that your posts link to. They can certainly be useful in very specific situations, but on the whole, are an unnecessary performance drain. Disable them under the “Discussion” tab in “Settings”.
Utilize browser caching
Browser caching is used to store the parts of your site that rarely change on a user’s local computer. A few of the more popular ones are W3 Total Cache, if you’re looking for absolute control, and WP Super Cache, if you’re looking for something a little more user-friendly.
These won’t improve the performance for first-time visitors, but regular users of your site will certainly experience the benefits. If you are using a managed WordPress hosting solution like WP Engine, you don’t have to worry about a caching plugin. They’ve built that into their hosting so you’re good to go!
Replace PHP with HTML where possible
While PHP is great for minimizing the amount of overall code needed for a site, it can be used excessively and cause a drain on resources. If it’s code that doesn’t need to be replicated across the entire site, it can easily be replaced with HTML to improve performance.
Get rid of unnecessary plugins
Going through and giving a critical eye to the plugins you’re using is an easy way to keep performance up in WordPress. Make sure to get rid of any plugins that are unnecessary or that may be causing a drag on your site’s performance.
Pro tip: Check for plugins that have duplicate use. For example, you may have SumoMe installed for the welcome bar but use AddToAny for social sharing. Since SumoMe has social sharing built into it, I’d recommend getting rid of AddToAny so you can limit the amount of plugins on your site.
There’s a lot of different ways you can go about squeezing performance out of your WordPress site. It can be a bit overwhelming, but if you follow these tips, you’ll have a blazing site in no time.
Do you have a WordPress performance tip? Please share!