Over the years, I’ve visited many blogs. Some lovely blogs, like DIY, recipes, and travel blogs. Then I’ve found some blogs that were just… well.. S…L….O…W…. Really really slow. I thought it was my computer or maybe the ads. I hate to have to admit it, but if a site doesn’t load in a few seconds, I just close the tab and move on. Long load times are just annoying.Everyone HATES a slow blog. Follow these 15 easy tips to speed up your site. #BloggersWanted Click To Tweet
Then I did a little research out of curiousity and ran a speed test on Pingdom…
Yeah, that’s 5.65 seconds. And it showed me how my site scored compared to others. They (the internet and blogging guru dudes) say that a blog’s load time needs to be under 2 seconds to retain visitors. I was at almost 3 times that! Now I’m sitting pretty at a much faster number and rating. Read on to see how I did it.
What is page load speed?
Your load speed is the amount of time it takes your page to fully load. So from the moment a visitor clicks to visit your site until all images, ads, and text have been loaded.
Why is your site’s speed important?
As a blogger, you want visitors to come to your blog and stay awhile. You know, visit. If they can’t get your page to load quickly, they aren’t likely to stay long. Not only do you want your visitors happy, you want Google happy. You’ve heard SEO is important, well site speed factors into that Googly algorithm too. You want all the search engine juices and ranking you can get.
How to speed up WordPress blog:
- Use a plugin to manage your cache. I use W3 Total Cache. For a detailed explanation on how page chaches work, check out this post on WP Beginner. My basic understanding is that the cache can hold things that your site always has, so when a visitor revisits your page, they don’t have to wait as long for the page load because it already has things saved.
- Optimize images. This took me forever! Images can take up a lot of space on your server and don’t need to be any larger than the space you’re putting them in. My blog posts measure 590 pixels and I found so many photos as wide as 1200 pixels. To fix this all in one go I used a free plugin, WP Smush It. The plugin can bulk optimize all your photos at once, smushing the file size without loosing the quality of your photos. You can spend one afternoon a month letting it run, then deactivate the plugin in between. When I ran this last week, it reduced my file size by 10%
- Revamp your homepage. I’m honestly still working on this step. There are quite a few things you can do to speed up just the home page:
- Display excerpts only instead of full posts.
- Limit the number of posts displayed on the home page. I’ve heard 5 is the magic number.
- Remove widgets from the home page and only include them on post & pages. Some themes have this option built in, I use a free plugin to manage which widgets display and where, it’s called Display Widgets. It makes it super easy to select pages and even categories to exclude.
- Cut down on plugins. Yeah, I know, I just suggested several plugins, but I also recommend condensing what you do have. Deactivate plugins you only use occasionally and ditch anything you haven’t touched in a month or more.
- Keep it minimal. This just makes things load so much faster and it looks nice too.
- Optimize your database. Your database can fill up with tons of unnecessary files. Things like post revisions, spam comments, drafts, etc. I have one page that had 50 revisions. That’s basically like having 50 copies of the same page taking up valuable space. WP Optimize is a great freebie that can take care of all that junk in one go.
- Adjust the comment system. If you remove the Gravatar images from the comments, that makes for less images your site will be loading, which means faster load time. That can be especially helpful if you get a ton of comments. I haven’t done this *yet* because I like seeing people’s faces!
- Lazy load images. This plugin will load images as a visitor scrolls down your page. So when they first visit a page they aren’t bogged down by a long load time, the plugin just laods the images that are visible and need loading. I’ve gone back and forth with this one. Some people swear by it, but I’m still undecided. Mostly because the best one hasn’t been updated in awhile.
- Invest in a better theme. I’m currently using a theme from Creative Market, but previously I was using Genesis. I’m one that likes having lots of features in my theme, Genesis didn’t offer that so I left. Now my new theme has tons of built in things I missed with Genesis. Now if speed and SEO is more important to you than features, go with Genesis.
- Compress your scripts. This sounds difficult, but Autoptimize makes it so easy! Just check off a box and hit process. It’s done in minutes. Compressing your scripts makes your site super light weight and fast.
- Reduce server clutter. Check your server for previous backups. You only need one, so delete the older ones and free up some space.
- Reduce redirects. If you have a link that redirects to another page (not linking pages but automatically taking a visitor to a new page), it will slow down your page. You can use Broken Link Checker to check your site for.. wait for it… broken links. Then you can go through and fix things. Easy.
- Analyze your plugins. You can install a plugin to rule all other plugins. Okay, not really, but it will tell you which plugins are using the most of your precious resources and slowing things down. P3 Plugin Performance Profiler by GoDaddy is free and fast. Plus it makes nice little pie charts showing exactly what’s going on.
- Use Google Libraries. This is similar to using a CDN to deliver content, but instead uses Google libraries of often used codes. You can get the free Google Libraries plugin here and check out WPBeginner’s guide for it here. It’s just a simple install, but I immediately saw an improvement on my site speed.
After doing a mixture of the steps above, I was able to speed up WordPress blog substantially. Just check out my latest speed test!