Speeding up a WordPress site

It’s no secret, WordPress isn’t the fasted loading CMS, but there are many things you can do to improve the loading speed of your site. Site speed has become increasingly important, not only to give your users a better experience on your site but it is also a ranking factor for SEO.

The only tool you need to significantly reduce the loading time of your site is CloudFlare, not only can CloudFlare reduce loading times of your site but it also monitors your site for possible threats and provides some really valuable analytics, showing threats, visitors, pageviews and what bots have crawled your site.

CloudFlare acts similar to a CDN, which is non techie terms is like a middle man. It caches non dynamic parts of your site for example the CSS and javascript and serves it to the user which really does speed things up.

To setup CloudFlare (for free) simply create an account and point your domain nameservers to the nameservers they provide. It is important to know that you are not using CloudFlare as a host, so you will still require your hosting provider.

When I set this up for the first time I was amazed how fast it made my site, I would say it doubled in speed. Before this I tried everything, I’ve switched hosts 3 times because I thought it was their servers, I even upgraded to a dedicated server or in other words ‘wasted a lot of money’ but nothing worked better than CloudFlare.

I would highly recommend CloudFlare, but if it’s not for you here are some more tips for speeding up your WordPress site:

Use less plugins

WordPress plugins are great, they enable you to do lots of things you wouldn’t usually be able to do with no coding knowledge. But they do hamper loading times, and cause more stress on the server.

When possible, try not to use a plugin to achieve what you are trying to do, for example; most users will use a plugin to put Google adsense onto every post/page of their site, this is not needed as it is actually very simple to edit the theme and just include the adsense code, this is the same with Google Analytics code.

Resize images before uploading them

Images should be sized correctly rather than uploading them and using the built in function (thumbnail, medium etc) or by sizing them with HTML, as this will slow down loading time.

Minify code

‘Minitying’ code basically means removing anything that is not needed, in most cases this will be the white space. Simply removing all of the blank lines can significantly reduce file sizes.

Cache + CDN

There are various plugins (most popular is WP Super Cache) that will cache a WordPress site which will in turn increase the site speed. The cache plugins, basically saves a static page of your website, and serves that to the user instead of creating the page each time. There are also plugins for CDN (content delivery network), using a CDN or cache tool will show the best results; as I said before CloudFlare does both and works better.