Speeding up your WordPress blog: 7 effective solutions

by Jean. 7 Comments -

It’s a fact: Internet users don’t like to wait forever for a page to load. If your website is slow, chances are that people will close your page before having a look at it. Here’s a bunch of effective solutions to make your WordPress blog a lot faster.

“Smush” your images


If you’re using Adobe Photoshop, you can use the “Save for web” option that allow you to easily find the best compromise between quality and image size. Another option is to use a free online service to reduce image size while keeping its quality high. This service is called Smush It and I can’t stop using it to optimize my images.

There’s also a free WordPress plugin available. Install it, and it will automatically optimize any image you’ll upload to your WordPress site using the uploader. Cool, isn’t it?

Use a caching plugin

If your WordPress site is slow, make sure you’re using a caching plugin. There’s lot of options available, however I recommend W3 Total Cache which is free and really efficient.

W3 Total Cache minify static files (CSS, JavaScript), cache .php files, and add easy CDN support.

Reduce database queries

It is important to reduce unecessary queries to your database as each query take a few milliseconds to execute. First, you might want to know how many queries your blog execute in order to display a page. To do so, paste the code below in your functions.php file. Once done, just have a look to your site footer to know how many queries has been executed and how many time it took to completely load the page.

add_action( 'wp_footer', 'tcb_note_server_side_page_speed' );
function tcb_note_server_side_page_speed() {
  date_default_timezone_set( get_option( 'timezone_string' ) );
  $content  = '[ ' . date( 'Y-m-d H:i:s T' ) . ' ] ';
  $content .= 'Page created in ';
  $content .= timer_stop( $display = 0, $precision = 2 );
  $content .= ' seconds from ';
  $content .= get_num_queries();
  $content .= ' queries';
  if( ! current_user_can( 'administrator' ) ) $content = "<!-- $content -->";
  echo $content;
}

Then, you have to remove useless queries from your blog. Start by making sure that you are not using too many plugins, as most plugins are making database queries. Then you can remove theme-related queries that are not useful to your blog.

Speed up your site with .htaccess caching

If you can’t or don’t want to use a caching plugin on your WordPress site, this code snippet might be very helpful for you.

By using some simple .htaccess file caching, you can dramatically increase your website speed. This snippet must be pasted in your .htaccess file, located at the root of your WordPress install.

# 1 YEAR
<FilesMatch "\.(ico|pdf|flv)$">
Header set Cache-Control "max-age=29030400, public"
</FilesMatch>
# 1 WEEK
<FilesMatch "\.(jpg|jpeg|png|gif|swf)$">
Header set Cache-Control "max-age=604800, public"
</FilesMatch>
# 2 DAYS
<FilesMatch "\.(xml|txt|css|js)$">
Header set Cache-Control "max-age=172800, proxy-revalidate"
</FilesMatch>
# 1 MIN
<FilesMatch "\.(html|htm|php)$">
Header set Cache-Control "max-age=60, private, proxy-revalidate"
</FilesMatch>

Source: http://www.askapache.com/htaccess/speed-up-sites-with-htaccess-caching.html

Use a Content Delivery Network

Do you know that 80 to 90% of the end-user response time is spent downloading all the components in the page? Images, scripts or stylesheets can take a while to be downloaded on the client machine.

A content delivery network (CDN) is a collection of web servers distributed across multiple locations to deliver content more efficiently to users. Although CDNs are pricey for small or non-profit websites, using this solution can really make your site 20% faster. Most well known CDNs are MaxCDN, Amazon CloudFront, CloudFlare and NetDNA.

Minimize HTTP requests

In order to reduce page loading time, you have to reduce the number of HTTP requests. To do so, you have to:

  • Reduce the number of JavaScript files
  • Reduce the number of CSS files
  • Reduce the number of images

If you’re using W3 Total Cache as I recommended, you don’t have to worry much about JavaScript and CSS files, as the plugin minify those files in order to reduce the number of HTTP requests.

Regarding images, one of the best thing to do is to using the “CSS sprites” technique. This technique basically consists of grouping many small images on one big image in order to do a single HTTP request all for images, instead of one request per image. The easiest way to combine your images on a single image file and automatically generate the corresponding .css code is to use a service named Sprite Me.

Use a reliable web hosting

At last but not least, it is obvious that you should use a reliable web host if you want your website to be fast. I’ve used lots of web hosts and some are really good and some other sucks. For example, you should definitely avoid Phpnet.org and Maven Hosting, both of them shut my websites down just because they were receiving too many visits.

On the other hand, I was pleased with WP Web Host, which is really good if you’re hosting a small or medium WordPress site or blog. If you have a popular and/or large website, I definitely recommend Vidahost, which is CatsWhoCode webhost. My site is still fast although I receive lots of traffic. If you want to get some hosting from Vidahost, don’t forget to use my custom coupon CATSWHOCODE to get 10% off anything.

Btw, if you need any help with your website, I can help you at avery reasonable rate. Have a look at my site WPCAT to get in touch!

Comments (7) - Leave yours

  1. Tom Nguyen said:

    I installed the Hyper Cache plugin and it cut my website’s loading time by about a second and a half. I test my website speed at http://tools.pingdom.com and it ranges any where from 1.5 to 2.5 seconds. What would you call an acceptable loading speed? I don’t fall into the trap of using a cheap hosting company as cheap doesn’t mean quality.

  2. Marios Alexandrou said:

    If you’ve got caching working using one of the popular plugins, does worrying about SQL queries matter all that much? Except for new content, it seems that proper caching should eliminate the need to worry about SQL queries.

  3. Deepak Sachdeva said:

    There are some great tips here – many of them will work for many other blogs, too, not just WordPress ones. I find it so frustrating when blogs load slowly – if they take too long I’m not a stranger to just clicking the back button.

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