Speed optimization hacks to load WordPress in .5 seconds

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WordPress is an amazing platform which is becoming famous around the globe because of the cool features, a wide range of themes and available functionality options. According to a recent estimate, every fourth site on the internet is powered by the WordPress which is a huge success of the platform. Although, WordPress has amazing features and so many reasons to go for, it has some draw backs as well. For instance, WordPress sites are usually slow, and there are some security concerns as well.

The Current IT world is getting faster and faster with each passing day and now it’s all about speed and performance. Users on the internet don’t have enough time to sit back and wait for some WordPress website to get load. According to a Caltech Survey, more than 90% users close a website if it doesn’t load properly in under 7 seconds. Thus, speed optimization of your WordPress website is very crucial if you want to keep your website fastest in the market!

There are many factors upon which the speed of a WordPress site depends on on. For a perfect site working lightning fast, you should consider all factors. Negligence on even any one factor’s part will result in a slow speed of your site. In this article, we have researched and tried to collect all factors which matter for a WordPress site speed. We’ll discuss the problems, solutions and tips regarding making your website work faster. Let’s have a look at all factors and discuss them in detail:

1. Run Diagnostics:

The first step you need to make is to find out the health of your website. You can use online tools like Google Page Speed Insights, Pingdom, and GTmetrix to see where your website stands. Once you get the root cause of slow loading, you will have to start resolving these issues one by one.

2. Use a Lightweight theme:

Use a lightweight theme which means it is coded efficiently and use minimum resources. There is a huge variety of eye-catching themes which are only attractive with their design but make the website’s speed excruciatingly slow. So, always prefer going ahead with themes having the less loading time or use frameworks like Genesis or Thesis for optimum speed results.

3. Get right Hosting:

Avoid cheap shared hosting as getting a shared hosting is like signing the death certificate for your website’s speed as the server space is being shared by thousand others. Also, make sure that your server has the capacity of handling your content and traffic. The hosting package and selected web host contribute significantly towards the speed of the website.  Always go for VPS (Virtual Private Server) or Cloud hosting with good reviews. Learn more about most economical and fastest WordPress hosts here.

4. Remove Redundant data:

Over the time the database gets filled with unused and irrelevant files such as spam folder, trash, post revisions, etc. Therefore, it is important to do regular database optimization which is quite easy if plugins are used such as WP Database Optimizer. This plugin reduces the post revisions, auto drafts and optimizes database tables.

5. Use a Caching Plugin:

PHP is a server-side programming language which means each visit to a website developed in PHP will end up in running of a process to fetch the information and then display it to the visitor. Same is the case for WordPress which is written in PHP. This process of fetching and then displaying information can slow down the website. Use caching plugins like W3Total Cache or WP Super cache which helps in reducing the server load by caching pages as static HTML content.

6. Use less social sharing plugins:

These plugins can take a long time to load. If your GTmetrix report shows multiple items that have your social sharing plugin listed, consider finding a new, lightweight social sharing plugin like Digg Digg or Genesis Simple Share.

7. Minify CSS and JavaScript:

Minifying JS and CSS reduces the size of website’s CSS, JavaScript and HTML content and in turn results in increased in page load speed. Google recommends this minifying as the Page load speed is a key factor for good SEO of a website and helps in getting higher search rank. Plugins like Better WordPress Minify and WP Super Minify are great plugins for this minifying process. However, you should remove them from your site once you are done with the minifying process.

8. Combine CSS and JS files:

Every plugin that is installed, adds its own CSS and JS files. If a lot of plugins are installed then the number of included CSS and JS files also increase resulting in more HTTP requests. Therefore, all these CSS files should be combined into one file and same goes for JS files.

9. Use Updated Themes & Plugins:

Good WordPress themes and plugins are regularly updated. Keeping these two updated provides you with improved performance and other boosts that a theme or plugin developer can offer. New versions also get rid of redundant code, problematic features and issues that adversely affect the speed and overall functionality of the website.

10. Use Content Delivery Network (CDN):

If your website is big then CDN should be used as it facilitates in distributing the static content of the website across the world which reduces the load time. Static content such as images, CSS, JS, and videos are cached by CDN in its servers all over the world. MaxCDN and CloudFlare are examples of good CDN services.

11. Avoid Google map in the footer:

Since Google Maps take the time to load, you should not add them in the footer.

12. Use Code Instead of Plugins:

There are many features or functionalities that can be added with code instead of installing plugins for them. For example, Google Analytics has a plugin for installing the tracking code which can easily be acquired and pasted into the footer of your website. Use diagnostic plugins like P3 detect plugins that use more space or slow down the speed and replace them with code if possible.

13. Remove Inactive Plugins:

If you are not using a plugin then disable them and remove from your site as plugins that aren’t in use remain active and can have hooks into the WordPress install leading to additional load on the website and load speed. Even though most of the plugins have minimal effect on speed, some do increase the load time. So, the rule of thumb is to always test a plugin’s possible impact on load time using plugins like WP Smush and P3. Use them to identify problematic plugins and make decisions whether to replace them or remove them altogether.

14. Optimize Site images:

Images eat up a lot of bandwidth for most of the websites and it is necessary to have all images optimized so that they do not have any effect on the website’s speed. Plugins like WP Smush and TinyPNG have the functionality to automatically compress the size of images once they are uploaded to the media library. The quality of the images is not compromised and a lot of space is saved as well. Another important step required for optimizing images is to choose the right size and suitable image format.

15. Implement Lazy Load:

Lazy load is a handy way of improving the speed of WordPress websites and blogs by loading elements only if they are in view port. This can help in avoiding loading of one or all elements at once leading to a healthier loading rate. Free plugins like BJ Lazy Load can be used for images which automatically implements lazy loading of images in the website.  Some caching plugins like WP Rocket also have lazy load images option in them. Images are not the only media that can have a lazy load. You can use lazy load for videos via Lazy Load for Videos plugin which substitutes the embedded Youtube, DailyMotion and Vimeo videos with a preview image which are clickable. The video loads only when the image is clicked.

16. Disable Pingbacks and trackbacks:

Even though pingbacks and trackbacks are a mode of communication between websites, it is also a tedious task for your website. By simply unchecking the “Attempt to notify any blogs linked to/from the article” option the pingback features can be disabled on the website completely.

17. Reduce Redirects:

The higher the number of pages with redirects the more slow loading time will be of the website. Thus, it is extremely important to reduce the number of redirecting pages as much as possible so that speed of the website can increase. Also, if the website has been shifted from http to https, or www to non-www but some links on the current website point to the previous version then these will also be redirects. You’ll want to change these links to be consistent with the new version of your domain. This type of redirect problem can be fixed by using plugins like Better Search & Replace.

18. Reduce External Scripts:

External scripts can become the bane of existence for the speed of WordPress websites. The majority of the speed issues are usually due to too many external scripts. When a script is loaded from an external website then it limits the options in terms of how to treat it. For example, Twitter Tweet buttons, Facebook Like/Share buttons or offsite videos can adversely affect the load time. The solution is to simply get rid of some of these features for the sake of increased speed.

19. Leverage Browser Caching:

When a browser displays a web page, it load several things including logo, CSS, js to display the page to the visitor. If you have browser enable, it will save these static things in the browser cache. If a user visits another page of your website, the browser will server these static content from the local cache and thus it reduces the HTTP requests and improves the load time.

20. Disable Hotlinking:

Although Hotlinking does not affect the speed directly, it still reduces the server load if the concerned website has heavy traffic. Hotlinking is the phenomenon in which images are linked to the server instead of saving the image and then uploading it on the server in turn consuming the other website’s bandwidth. This can be prevented using .htaccess.

21. Load Scripts in the Footer:

Make it an unsaid rule to load scripts in the footer unless it is absolutely critical to load them in the header. The essential elements of the webpages are loaded first and even if a script is not rendered it will not prevent the rest of the content from loading leading to improved apparent speed of the website or blog.

22. Optimize Database Queries:

Database queries can have a huge impact on the speed mainly because of memory usage. Faulty queries lead to frequent crashes therefore it is necessary to decrease and optimize queries with a few tweaks to the code.

23. Expanded Comments:

Use plugins such as Hide Show Comments if you have a lot of commenting users on your website/blog. This type of plugin will hide the comments till they are manually expanded by the visitors. Thus, a huge number of Gravatar images which can slow down posts are not unnecessarily loaded.

So, these are all important points which should be taken in to the account when one tries to optimize WordPress website speed. All of these advice should be followed strictly since speed is directly linked to the SEO of your site. And a bad SEO can have a negative impact on your business.
I hope you’ll find this article useful. Do share in your community and let me know in the comments section if I have missed any point.

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