Tune-Up Time: How to Make Your WordPress Site Speedy

Is your WordPress site sufficiently speedy?

A slow-loading website poses two major risks. One, visitors will leave before your clever work appears. Two, search engines will ding you for being sluggish.

Below are eight ways to speed up a WordPress website. These range from easy steps (deleting files) to more complex tasks such as choosing a better webhost.

Three Easy Steps

The first three recommendations involve removing unneeded data. Basically, unless you use a caching program, all of your WordPress information must be pulled from a database every time a page loads. The more information that’s stored, the longer the loading time of your WordPress site. Here are ways to lighten to load:

  • Delete unnecessary WordPress plugins. Plugins should be used sparingly because they slow down website speed. Many of us install lots of plugins at once, try them all, and choose a favorite. We forget the losers yet they drag us down. If you believe that all of your plugins are essential, double-check with your coder. They might be able to replace a plugin by adding a snippet of code to your WordPress theme.
  • Delete spam comments. When you mark a comment as spam, it remains in your WordPress database until you delete it. Hundreds or thousands of spam comments combine to slow you down. A simple “Empty Spam” button is provided in the Comments section of your dashboard.
  • Delete old posts. There’s usually no reason to keep old post revisions. You can delete older versions of your pages and posts manually or with a plugin.

After you’ve accomplished these tasks, consider adding a caching plugin.  It will store a version of your site that can be accessed without pulling from the database.

Next Steps

A strategy related to those above is to optimize your images for the web. Sometimes it makes sense to use large 24-bit PNG image files; they appear more vibrant than 8-bit PNGs and JPGs. But the higher resolution PNG images also require more storage space. Your website likely has many graphics that could be shrunk to speed up your WordPress site.

You should also optimize your database. This is similar to defragmenting a PC, and for most active websites it should be done twice weekly. Install the RVG Optimize Database plugin or another optimizer with five stars.

Radical Moves

It might be time to change your WordPress theme. When we’re WordPress beginners, it’s natural to select a theme based solely on its pretty appearance. However, the true beauty of a WordPress theme is more than pixel deep. The best WordPress designers are exceptionally up-to-date about speed, security and SEO as well as visual aesthetics. The next time you shop around for a theme, pay attention to details about speed, security and how frequently the designers update their work.

Is your website sluggish despite your doing all of the above? The problem might be traced to your webhost. A WordPress website, like any other, requires a given amount of server memory to work best. If you’re sharing a server, then you’re sharing a CPU with other website owners – and their traffic slows you down. Consider an upgrade to a dedicated server, a virtual private server or managed WordPress hosting.