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This is more important than you think! It is one of the ways to get more traffic onto your website and with more eyes, you ultimately end up with more sales. Speed up your WordPress Website!

In 2010, Google confirmed that website speed is a factor in search rankings. We all know that you want to be placed as best as possible, with faster websites this helps.

WordPress is a heavy machine. The all in one hub of everything. It can do everything, for some people building a website is the biggest challenge of all, for people like myself I find it easy. The bit that I find harder is keeping it optimised and up 100% as I do get carried away sometimes with plugins, which ultimately slows down your website in the long run.

In this article, you will learn the importance of speed, not only for your search ranks which you have just learnt but your wallet. You don’t want to be paying massive fees for a server that can handle your website when you can make some changes yourself (mainly for free) to keep those costs down. If your website takes longer than 4 seconds to load and hitting a page size of over 3mb you have an issue, not everyone is on a super-fast internet provider and will just click off the website.

Here are some free tools!

WebPageTestGTmetrixGoogle PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom – Give these a bookmark. This is the first step. Check how fast your website is. Come back to it at the end to see if it has changed. I can 100% confirm by doing just a few of these changes it will change.

Let us begin!

Select your hosting company wisely

Choose a hosting plan that meets your site needs. I highly recommend Wealthy Affiliate  It’s what this website is running on.

Ultimately it depends on what your website is too. If you have a blog I’d go with Wealthy Affiliate, nice and simple. Cheap costs and on a shared server.

However, if you have an eCommerce site or a heavy WordPress website with a lot of traffic. I’d suggest looking at a hosting plan without sharing. Managed WordPress hosting would be the most suitable. Just Google it. You will find a number of them coming up, these are basically servers optimised for WordPress.

 

Enable compression

Compressing your CSS and Javascript files will help browsers download them faster.

Gzip compression can easily reduce file sizes from 200+KB (non-compressed) to less than 40KB (compressed). As long as your server has compression enabled, take advantage of it.

You can be sure that your users will experience a drastic speed up of your site for both desktops and mobiles by enabling compression at your server.

Add the following snippet of code in your .htaccess file in order to enable compression for static files.

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-httpd-php text/php text/html text/plain text/css text/xml application/x-javascript text/javascript application/javascript text/x-js

BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4\.0[678] no-gzip
BrowserMatch \bMSIE !no-gzip !gzip-only-text/html
Header append Vary User-Agent

At the end of this step CLICK HERE to see if your website has been compressed.

Make sure that you have KeepAlive enabled (only if you are on a shared hosting plan)

Apache (the most commonly used server for shared hosting plans at low-cost hosting companies) has a great “feature” called KeepAlive which keeps connections open for more than one HTTP request.

Make sure KeepAlive is activated at your hosting company.

If you have access to your httpd.conf file, enable KeepAlive by making sure that you have “KeepAlive On” in it, otherwise just add the following piece of code to your .htaccess file.

<ifModule mod_headers.c> Header set Connection keep-alive </ifModule>

Use a Content Delivery Network

This one could be the game-changer. Whether you use a CMS like WordPress, Joomla, Magento, Drupal or a custom-made PHP or HTML site, I highly recommend configuring a Content Delivery Network (CDN). The majority of them are low cost. But first, let me tell you what a CDN is.

A CDN is a distributed system of servers deployed in multiple data centres across the internet. When a client visits your site, static content like images and CSS files are served from the server that is geographically closest them so they are rendered much faster also the load on your server is also drastically reduced thanks to a CDN.

CloudFlare is a free CDN and DNS provider among others. MaxCDN is also a great and affordable option to optimise the loading time of your site.

Optimise your images

Images are the main culprit for slowing a website. Think how many images you have on your website; featured images, adverts, logos and theme images to name a few. Always optimise your images (especially those above 50KB) before uploading them to your website.

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Ask yourself this. Would you want an image of 2mb on one article? More than likely no. Always optimise your images (especially those above 50KB) before uploading them to your website.

The optimal way of optimising them is to use Photoshop or any other image manipulation software. Save images for the web with image quality up to 60%.

You should also use progressive images for JPG files because progressive rendering of images provides a smoother user experience.

Scale images

Never scale images on the fly in HTML. Create a thumbnail of the image that you need at the exact dimensions that it will be used in your pages.

For instance, if you have an image that it is 1200px x 675px and you want to use a “scaled” version at 480px x 270px, create a new resized version of the original image and use that instead.

This image links to a “big” version of the image using a scaled thumbnail instead of changing the dimensions of the image in HTML.

In simple terms. find out the correct size of your website featured image (if you are using that feature) and make the sizes match. Also, don’t forget to optimise.

 

Leverage Browser Caching

Google recommends a minimum cache time of one week and preferably up to one year for assets that change infrequently.

Set a caching policy for all server responses to static files (images, CSS and Javascript) so the browser can determine whether it can reuse a previously loaded file or not.

This is usually done by adding this snippet of code at the .htaccess file for shared hosting plans

<ifmodule mod_expires.c>
ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType text/html “access plus 7200 seconds”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access plus 864000 seconds”
ExpiresByType image/jpg “access plus 864000 seconds”
ExpiresByType image/png “access plus 864000 seconds”
ExpiresByType text/css “access plus 864000 seconds”
ExpiresByType text/javascript “access plus 864000 seconds”
ExpiresByType application/javascript “access plus 864000 seconds”
</ifmodule>

Optimise your database

As long as you have a database-driven site (which includes WordPress and all other CMS-based sites), then be sure to optimise your database.

Monitor your code for slow queries. If you are on a VPS or dedicated server, enable query caching and optimise your database server configuration.

Although full database optimisation can be a really tricky and time-consuming process, phpMyAdmin offers you a few basic optimisation options by “optimising your tables”.

You can also do this via plugins on the WordPress Plugin Directory. Plenty of them can be used. Just make sure you backup your database before actioning or deleting anything. If you get this wrong, goodbye website.

Reduce Plugin Usage

Before doing this, have a think and look at what you do need, and what you do not need. Then add this plugin P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) onto your website. Give it a run and see which plugin is using up the most data.  This is a brilliant plugin to find out which one is killing server resources, meaning it will be slow.

I recommend no more than 7 plugins. I would also not use plugins that transfer data all the time. Google Analytics (on website stats) you do not need as you can do that externally, WordPress JetPack System (transfers data to external sources and auto social media sharing) and mega menus (increases load time due to image use)

I’m terrible for having more plugins than I should. I suppose it’s the lazy person in me. You find ways to make life easier.

Conclusion

I know we have just hit March and let’s start off by getting that website loading as fast as we can.  Everything improves when your site loads faster. Google ranks you higher. Users are happier. Bounce rates decrease. Conversion rates increase. And you make more sales. Stop losing traffic and money. Start optimising the loading time of your site today.

I don’t expect you to do them all, however, at least 3 of them will make things run faster.

Gzip!

Reduce plugins.

CDN.

Action those 3 your website will speed up and have a much lower page size!

 

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