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5 Quick tips to improve page load performance of a WordPress site

Ashwini Sah | Nov 22,2013 |   3 comments
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Over the years WordPress has evolved from a simplistic blogging engine to a very Powerful CMS. Despite of being an awesome CMS, WordPress comes with its own set of issues. One issue that should concern you most is that, it’s fairly slow in comparison to many other platforms.  Every element of your webpage (e.g. widgets, comment forms etc.) on WordPress makes a database call and it negatively affects the page loading time.

Improving page load time – Why it’s important?

A slow website can’t hold visitors for long. Worse, if the first page served to a new visitor is taking too much time to load. He might give up the idea to wait and go away, without even giving a glance to your content. Isn’t that a chance lost?

Slow page load time may cost you search engine traffic as well. Google has already clarified that the page speed is taken into account while ranking a webpage. Plus, if you are not able to retain your visitors, search engines get a bad hint about your content.

How to improve Site Speed?

Fortunately, improving page load speed on WordPress is not very tough either. A few plugins, some workarounds and you are done.

[Caution: Note that all these tips and tricks work only if your website is hosted by a good host. Even after trying all these workarounds, your page loads slow, consider shifting to a better web host. Read more on choosing a good web host]

Improving server side load

Before your website is displayed in a browser, it has to go through server side scripting in order to display the exact information queried. How quickly your server resolves the queries and serves the data, decides the load time of your page. Here are a few tips you can use to reduce the server side scripting time.

1. Use a cache plugin

As we mentioned, every WordPress page makes a number of queries while loading. Every query converts PHP in to HTML in order to display it through web browsers. One cool way to minimize queries is to replace the PHP with HTML wherever possible. For example, if your categories are permanent, you can place them manually in your theme instead of placing a widget. However, this needs dirtying your hands with codes.

A simple solution is to use a cache plugin. They create HTML codes out of PHP when the page is loaded for the first time and then display that cached static HTML to following visitors. These plugins keep refreshing the cached version periodically or on occurrence of particular events (e.g. when a new post is published). Using a cache plugin can significantly speed up page loading time of your WordPress website.

We recommend using W3 Total Cache as its one stop solution for all your caching needs. Additionally, it also helps you out with using content delivery network (CDN), GZIP compression, minifying CSS etc.

2. Optimize WordPress Database

WordPress operates on MySQL database which stores all the information of your website (e.g. posts, users, comments etc). With time the database collects a lot of useless information like spams, post revisions etc. You need to periodically optimize your database to remove the clutter and keep it clean. An optimized database responds better to PHP queries, speeding up your website.

We recommend using the plugin WP-DBManager which lets you schedule automatic optimization of your database periodically.

3. Improving image load time

Images add life to your webpages, but on the other hand, they require a lot of bandwidth to server. As a rule of thumb, you should never use images of larger dimensions than required. But that’s not all, there are more ways to optimize your images so that they don’t negatively affect the webpage speed. I would suggest a couple of plugin which can help in optimizing the images on your wordpress website.

– Smush.it

Smush.it is an image optimizing service from Yahoo which reduces the file size of an image without reducing the quality. A WordPress plugin called WP-Smush.It does this automatically for all your images. You just need to install this plugin and forget. Whenever you upload an image, the plugin will smush it automatically.

– LazyLoad

LazyLoad is a smart plugin which only loads the images which are above the fold (area of webpage visible in the browser). Images below the fold are loaded only when a user scrolls down to the images. Next time when you write a tutorial with many images, don’t worry about page load time.

5. Using a content delivery network (CDN)

Physical distance between server and users matters. A website hosted in US will take more time to reach an Indian user in comparison to a local host. A content delivery network duplicates your content to different servers and directs it to users based on proximity.

There are many free or paid CDN services available for WordPress. You can easily install and setup a CDN on your blog through W3 Total Cache plugin mentioned above. Alternatively, you can also use wordpress.com CDN through Jetpack plugin.

Summing up

Once your website is optimized, you will experience improvement in visitors retention immediately and search engine traffic on a long term, provided your content is good. There are many browser extensions (e.g. YSlow, Page Speed) to check the page load performance of your website. You can also use web tools like Pingdom to check the pre and post effect of implementing these tips.

This post is written by Ashwini. He is a regular contributor to the Webriti Blog

3 Comments

Sarah Bright

May 3, 2015 at 7:17 pm

By default, WordPress compresses and resizes your images so that your site loads more quickly. This process degrades image quality. For more guidance you can visit my site brightverge.com. I suggest you that don’t use blurry or pixelated images. Instead, capture or source high quality and high resolution photographs. When possible, resize your images to the required dimensions before uploading them to WordPress. You can find a list of image dimensions at the bottom of most theme tutorials.

Vrisha Malan

December 29, 2016 at 10:13 am

No doubt, the page loading time is significantly essential for any website/blog and as because of the slow rendering websites loose almost everything. For any internet site, the loading time is a major factor in developing now. I am usually busy on one side trying my best to optimize the overall loading speed of my blog. The clean & near coding of HTML can help you to cut off a couple of seconds on your blog. One point I want to tell you that after I moved to Genesis or magazine framework, my blog loading speed has decreased by over 2.2s. Possibly that’s because it has a plain and lightweight structure and it even corrected me to remove unwanted and heavy plugins. About the images, not so many users are well aware of Photoshop, so for the alternative to optimize graphics there are lots of websites to help you to compress image size that matter greatly on the entire size of your HTML page rendering on the user side.

Also, I switched to a dedicated server and the faster CDN (Content Delivery Network) that not only work for WordPress for the Blogger as well. The use of CDN and can cause a significant difference in site loading time.I used to make changes to HTML and keep an eye on site loading. A dedicated hosting including regular tweaking can make a difference.

The slow loading causing the two most valuable things to stay away from your website that matter are “Google” and “Visitor.” So it really matters to work hard on optimizing the loading speed of the site and each page.

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