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How to Optimize your WordPress Website

How to Optimize your WordPress Website

Did you know over 27% of all websites on the internet are running WordPress? And while it is a very popular and powerful blogging and website content management system (CMS), it isn’t perfect. It is easy to create a WordPress website, and there are many plugins out there to bring in a lot of functionality to your site. This is also the reason why so many WordPress websites are slow, not optimized, and poorly configured.

Minimize the number of plugins

WordPress’ popularity is due in great part to a large number of plugins available. A WordPress plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. These plugins can extend the functionality or add new features to your website. But if you are not careful, these plugins can also make your website slower.

Choose the right hosting

This might seem obvious but it isn’t. Many times I’ve been asked how to improve the speed of a WordPress website, and one of the first questions I ask is “Where are you hosting your website right now? you see, this is very important because not all hosting companies have their servers configured and optimized for WordPress. My suggestion is to go with a managed WordPress hosting plan. However, if you have technical staff in your company, then you can also host it yourself as long as you are confident that the website will be configured correctly.

A WordPress website running in a poorly managed hosting provider will cause your website to run slow. Also, a lot of hosting providers are not familiar with the inner workings of WordPress and might not be as interested in the security and performance of your website as you are. Our hosting plans for example, not only guarantee the performance of your website, but we also make sure your WordPress website is updated, backed up (daily), and optimized to run smoothly and fast.

Combine and compress

This advice is a bit more technical than the above, and it is very important to be aware of it. Combine and compress refers to combining your static files such as CSS and JavaScript to minimize their size and reduce the time it takes for your website pages to load. This also helps by minimizing the number of requests your website makes to the server to load such files.

What are CSS and JavaScript?

  • CSS is a language that creates templates for web pages, saving time on rewriting HTML over and over again
  • JavaScript (JS) is a programming code that gives instructions to HTML and CSS

There are many tools and plugins to help you with this, but these tools need to be configured correctly to make sure your website benefits from it, a misconfigured tool can cause your website to perform worse than it did before.

Here are some of the plugins we recommend for this:

Be careful to avoid using redundant plugins, as they will interfere with one another and compromise your website performance.

You can also do it manually if you know what you are doing. There are several types of tools that you can use to minify your code manually. You can minify by hand or use one of the many free online tools and copy and paste your code from and to your site.

WordPress Caching

WordPress caching is the fastest way to improve performance. If your site is getting hit right now install one of the popular caching plugins.

Webmica handles caching at the server level, eliminating the need for caching plugins. Server-side caching is significantly more efficient and scalable than any plugin-based caching, as it doesn’t rely on PHP at all. This aside, caching plugins run the risk of interfering with the caching we already have in place. Common examples include W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, Batcache, and others.

If you aren’t hosting your WordPress website with us, or other managed WordPress company, you have some options which I describe below.

Caching plugins can be easily installed and configured to cache your WordPress posts and pages as static files. Once the static files exist, the content is not longer pulled from the database. Instead, these static files are served to users, reducing the processing load on the server. This type of caching can improve the performance of your website considerably.

Browser caching can help to reduce server load by reducing the number of requests per page. For example, by setting the correct file headers on files that don’t change (static files like images, CSS, JavaScript etc) browsers will then cache these files on the user’s computer. This technique allows the browser to check to see if files have changed, instead of simply requesting them, reducing the load time of your website.

Look into HTTP Cache-Control (specifically max-age) and Expires headers, as well as Entity Tags for more information about this form of caching.

Web server caching is more complex but very effective way of caching, and it is used in very high traffic sites. There are many options available, beyond the scope of this article. The simplest solutions start with the server caching locally while more complex and involved systems may use multiple caching servers (also known as reverse proxy servers) “in front” of web servers where the WordPress application is actually running. Adding an opcode cache like Opcache to your server will improve PHP’s performance by many times.

One more thing

I mentioned this above but it is important enough that I’ll mention it again. Be careful about the plugins you install in your WordPress website. Some plugins can cause your website to slow down and/or conflict with other existing plugins. There is also the security aspect of it, unfortunately, not every plugin out there has been developed with security in mind and these plugins leave your website open to attacks.


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