WordPress is the most popular blogging and content management system alive on the web today. It powers around 90 million websites and offers a very easy platform to publish content in a format that are very search engine friendly. The problem is that WordPress can end up being slow on loading into a visitors browser. With Google identifying page load speed as an ever important metric, having a slow website can cause you problems with not only visitor experience but can be a black mark against your WordPress website in the eyes of Google.
One of the main benefits of WordPress is the ability for anyone to purchase all utilise for free a theme that allows the look and feel of a blog or website to be changed and adapted to suit any taste. Are you will find that many of the most popular and most visited websites are built with a WordPress spine and a theme overlay. The final result is that anyone, with a modicum of coding knowledge can create a very attractive website that is easy to update and publish blog posts and articles to generate traffic and get visitors onto your site time and time again with the end result of turning them into clients.
One of the major issues with WordPress websites is that they are very server resource hungry. The themes that are used for the website design use a number of external HTTP calls, J query and can be calling in stylesheets from more than one source. One of the major benefits of using WordPress is the ability to add plug-ins, which are small pieces of code that enhance the website experience. Again, although plug-ins allow for wider flexibility on a website they can and often do increase the requirements placed upon the server. The end result is that the WordPress website can function slower that a hand coded development that is not reliant upon the database functionality of WordPress.
The Internet is full of tips and hints of how to speed up a WordPress website but many of these involve additional plug-ins and the use of third party content distribution networks (“CDN”), such as Cloud Flare and Max CDN. The additional plug-ins are generally based around the method of caching which means that the plug-in generates a static type page to replace the database driven page that is normally delivered by WordPress. Although this can make a difference the plug-in itself and the work required to generate the static page can again cause extra work for the server.
In looking at servers many people and small businesses host their websites on shared servers which means that your website may well be the same server as 1000 other websites. All these websites, like yours are vying for resources which are shared across every website. There is no problem in using shared hosting as it means the cost of hosting a website are dramatically lower than paying for a dedicated server.
The question then is how do you speed up your WordPress website without having to use any additional plug-ins? In fact in a perfect world you would want to limit your use of plug-ins to the absolute minimum.
WordPress provides its own plug-in called Jet Pack. Jet pack is a highly sophisticated plug-in that provides a wealth of services from stats to contact forms to galleries, and many more besides. The issue with jet pack is that it needs to be linked to WordPress.org in order for it to function properly. Not only is it a very resource hungry plug-in in its own right, by making the extra calls to WordPress.org you can find that your wordPress website Will not fully load until all the data are required for jet pack has been retrieved from WordPress.org. In real terms this can add a good few seconds onto your website or webpage load time.
Most people use jet pack for it’s ease of reporting stats from simply logging into your WordPress website. In analysing the traffic on your wordPress website you may best be placed in using Google analytics rather than relying upon jet pack. The data from Google analytics is much more in-depth in any event and will give you a much more comprehensive reporting facility in any event. Adding Google analytics to your WordPress website is very simple and does not require any plug-in should you have a basic grounding in coding.
I am going to take it as read that you know how to open a Google analytics account and that you know where to get the tracking code from within the account. I will be writing a further article on this and will link this paragraph into that article.
Quite simply copy and paste the Google analytics tracking code into the header.php file within your WordPress website. This file can be found via the WordPress dashboard by going to APPEARANCE >> EDITOR. At this point you will see a list of editable files on the right hand side of the page wherein header.php is included. In adding the Google analytics tracking code it is my experience that it is best place straight after thetag. Please note that when editing any of your WordPress website files it is always best practice to make a copy of either the file all the original coding content so that if you make a mistake, or are simply does not work for you then you can revert back to the original easily.
Once you have managed this another google analytics tracking code is in place then deactivate jet pack and delete it. This is by itself Will reduce the server workload and will increase your WordPress website page load speed.
.HTACCESS & COMPRESSION
Most WordPress websites by far are hosted on Apache-based servers. The key file that controls the efficiency of WordPress website is the .htaccess file which is located in the root domain. In order to edit this file you will need FTP access to your server and a moderate level of coding experience. It is vital that owing to the importance of the contents of this file that you make a copy immediately before you make any edits at all. Getting it wrong in the .htaccess file can mean that your website does not work at all.
A key method of lowering your WordPress website Page load speed is by applying compression to the website so that a much smaller version of it is served to your visitors browser. There is more than one method of applying compression, either through on page “on the fly” compression through PHP or making that compression site wide from the outset via the .htaccess file.
In utilising compression through the .htaccess file, you would add the following lines of code at the start of the file.
Once these have been added and your .htaccess has been saved you can test the compression levels by visiting http://www.whatsmyip.org/http-compression-test/ and entering your domain name. A short test Will be run and result will show by how much your site is now compressed.
It goes without saying that you will want images and pictures on your website. You will already have noticed that photographs are usually very large with respect to that file sizes. By not optimising your images for the web you’ll find that this will dramatically increase your page load speed as your server tries to deliver that file to your visitor’s browser. In reducing the size you will need to use Photo editor such as photo shop or photo shop elements. When saving your image or photograph you will want to click “save for web or devices” and this will dramatically reduce the file size of any image.