WordPress Speed – Don’t overlook it!

by | Jun 3, 2014 | Blogging tips, Online Marketing, Website Design | 3 comments

When it comes to the speed of computers and the Internet in particular I seem to lack a bit in the patience department. I am sure, no certain that we have all had moments when we have lost it when it comes to operating a computer. However quick they make them it seems that they are never quite quick enough.

The Speed of a website is one factor that can certainly cause us frustration, and now it is a major factor for search engines when they index a site and it’s pages. It is also now a major aspect to user experience when it comes to building a website. Not only will speed help ranking but will increase time spent on your site by potential clients and customers, it will effect your returning visitors, and overall traffic.

For those that build websites in WordPress. There are some really beneficial methods and plug-ins to use to increase page load times, website optimisation and overall WordPress speed. I have been testing a few of these out myself which I will share with you.

First off is a great website which tests your websites speed. GTmetrix.com, Just simply put in your web address and click ‘Go’, GT metrix will break down the different aspects of your website and it will give you an overall grading of your websites speed. You don’t have to have a WordPress site to use this tool by the way. What you also get with this speed tool is a Yslow grade, whats this? YSlow analyzes web pages and why they’re slow based on Yahoo!’s rules for high performance web sites. They also provide a Firefox plug-in which is very helpful to analyze your website, I recommend adding this plug-in.

So when you have completed this speed check you can look at all the aspects of your website which might need adjustment. If you have a wordpress blog or website GTmetrix provides specific instructions to improve your WordPress speed, this is located in the top right corner.

One thing they emphasize which I was going to focus on is the recommendation to install W3 Total Cache plug-in. This is a very popular plug-in when it comes to optimizing WordPress and I am sure you can do a search and check out some very positive reviews around it. Matt Cutt’s at Google apparently recommends it. If you are not an expert when it comes to using a plug-in such as this then I recommend the below u tube video. It takes you step by step through using W3 Total cache plug-in along side GT metrix. This way your testing as you go to fully optimize your site and increase your speed.

I think at this point it is important to emphasize testing different aspects of your website’s operation when installing this plug-in and making your adjustments and doing your tests. I have personally found that various themes and templates seem to conflict with the plug-in. This could be due to WordPress updates which come about quite often or because of the themes themselves that are used. If there are conflicts then there are other plug-ins to use which optimize your websites speed.

Your second option if W3 Total cache is effecting other aspects of your website would then be to take a look at GTmetrix again. In the results when testing your websites speed you will notice the elements that are slowing down your site. Such as: Defer parsing of Javascript, Serve scaled images, specify image dimensions, optimize images, minify javascript etc. You can then go to your WordPress sites plug-in’s, go to ‘add new’ then search under these terms. You will find that there are various plug-ins which can deal with these elements.

Some which I have benefited from are:

Leverage Browser Caching Ninja – Very simple plugin that allows you to quickly leverage browser caching on your website making you 100% compliant with Google’s PageSpeed Insight rules. This only works with Apache Web Servers (which most WordPress installs are on).

BJ Lazy Load – Lazy image loading makes your site load faster and saves bandwidth.

Query Strings Remover – Query Strings Remover removes query strings from your static resources like CSS and JavaScript files. It will improve your cache performance and overall score in Google PageSpeed, YSlow, Pingdom and GTmetrix.

You will still need to check if it operates with the latest version of WordPress and your theme, but I have found some good results by doing things this way. You can then check your website speed again once you have installed each plug-in. Make sure you only tackle the elements which GT metrix highlight as really impacting your sites speed.

Hope these tips for improving your WordPress speed helps, please comment and let me know if you have found other methods which have benefited you.

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3 Comments

  1. Sam Mcgeown

    Hi Simon – nice post!

    I’ve not seen gtmetrix before, will take a look 🙂

    I use a plugin called P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) to get rid of any slow plugins, wp-optimize to clean up and compact the database and also cloudflare as a cdn in front of the webserver. Michael Poore a friend of mine did a good post on using those here http://www.vspecialist.co.uk/improving-wordpress-blog-performance/

    on the webserver side i’ve found that nginx is much faster than apache, though most people won’t have that level of control 🙂 i saved about 1gb of RAM when I switched

    Sam

    Reply
    • sflegg

      This is really helpful, thanks Sam. As most WordPress sites are on Apache is it a simple process to switch? I’ve keep meaning to question my hosting company about this, so any insight would be helpful. WP Optimizer is a great plugin, lots of good reviews around that as well.

      Reply
      • Sam McGeown

        WordPress actually recommend nginx now if you’re using PHP acceleration (PHP-FPM) and Caching. if you’re used to configuring apache then it’s not so different to use nginx.

        I use a hosting provider called DigitalOcean for my websites, for cheaper than most hosting packages you can have your own virtual server running your choice of linux and whatever else you want to run on it – you get full root access. I used their guide for installing WordPress and nginx
        https://www.digitalocean.com/community/articles/how-to-install-wordpress-with-nginx-on-ubuntu-12-04

        Definitely worth looking at DigitalOcean as a provider if you want to manage your own server, they’re very good.

        Reply

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