How to Optimize and Speed Up Your WordPress Website

WordPress is a well coded content management system with excellent performance for those who understand how to tweek basic settings for performance. But a lot of factors could add up to slow down your WordPress website and this week, we will be looking again at how you can speed up your WordPress website.

You will also want to read:

 Automatic Update in WordPress

 Changing your WordPress website location

 Configuring the basic settings in your WordPress website

 How to Backup Your WordPress Website Automaticaly Using Backup Plugins

 How to Fix a Hacked WordPress Website

Despite the excellent coding of WordPress, users could still mess it up with tons of plugins available for installation. We will look at basic steps necessary to optimize and speed up your WordPress website.

1. Choose a good web host: It will be a difficult task optimizing a website hosted on a very slow server. Your optimization work will make no sense if you host with a provider that lumps thousand of site on a single server. Todhost web hosting provides an excellent environment for WorPress web hosting.

2. Choose a Fast and Light Theme: Avoid WordPress themes packed with unnecessary plugins and disable plugins you are not using. That will help speed your website. If you can, do not choose themes that require changing everything as it makes your job easy and increases the work for the server.

3. Install a Caching Plugin: This is one of the most important ways to speed up a WordPress site after choosing a good web hosting service provider. We will recommend W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache.

4. Try Using a CDN: Try A CDN: Offloading the static resources of your site, like images, scripts, css files, can speed up your site. Not only those resources will load faster for visitors, if you use a CDN, your primary server will have less load to handle and thus will deliver significantly better performance while serving the rest of your site. The MAXCDN is a good one for this purpose.

Also read:

 How to Install and Setup Your Premium WordPress Theme

 How to Keep Your WordPress Website Updated

 How to Manage 403 Forbidden Error in WordPress

7 Security Tips for a WordPress Website

 How to Secure a WordPress Website

5. Work With Well-Coded Plugins: Please note that not all plugins out there are just good for your site. Before you install any plugin, please do proper research and look at reviews for this plugin because some plugins are so poorly coded that they will not only slow your website but can actually create serious problems including crashing your website.

6. Take Plugin Maintenance Seriously: Plugin maintenance is extremely important. Poorly maintained plugins give room for site exploitation and possibly a hack. Plugin maintenance is a must for any serious website.

7. Optimize Your Database: You can optimize your WordPress MySQL database directly from PHPMyAdmin, or by downloading and installing plugins like WP-Optimize or WP-DBManager. They will do the database optimization for you effectively.

8. Optimize Your Images: Optimizing your images will speed up your website by removing unnecessary bytes from image size. If you use Photoshop, it could help to use the "save for web& devices" option instead of the "save as" option. A good plugin for image optimization in WordPress is WP Smushit plugin which allows you to upload images normally while it automatically optimizes them using Yahoo’s Smush.it API behind the scenes.

9. Remove Old Post Revisions: The Revision Control plugin allows you to remove old post revisions from your WordPress database, making it considerably smaller, and your site slightly faster.

10. Use Askimet to Reduce Spam Comments: Spam comments take up much space in your database. You will need to setup the pre-installed Akismet plugin properly to catch those comments and prevent them from going live on your site, and additionally to discourage spammers from posting them in your site. Setting up Akismet isn't an issue. All you need to do is to register for an Akismet API key on the Akismet website using your WordPress.com account. The next thing you’d want to do with Akismet is checking the box in Akismet settings that says “Auto-delete spam submitted on posts more than a month old”. Of course, you can manually empty the spam queue anytime from the ‘comments -> spam’ section.

11. Disable Trackbacks & Pingbacks: Trackbacks and Pingbacks aren’t good for your site speed. Whenever someone links to you, a trackback gets created, utilizing server and database resource

12. Use CSS Sprites: Theme images and miscellaneous other small (both in size and dimensions) images should be combined into as few images as possible, using CSS sprites.

Also read:

 How to create a simple portfolio website with WordPress

 How to create and manage a page in WordPress

 How to safely disable the WordPress automatic update feature

 How to update your WordPress installation

6 Useful Tips and Tricks

Optimizing your WordPress website needs more than a simple appraoch. Because of the importance placed on SEO, most website owners would want to find the perfect plugin to do this. But there some common mistakes associated with most WordPress Search Engine Optimization strategy and we will be discussing this in this blog.post.

1. Optimize Page Titles & Descriptions

Page titles and meta descriptions are arguably two of the most important aspects when it comes to your SEO strategy. We place page title most important in this order.
These attributes are important for two major reasons:

    Search Engines. Page titles factor heavily into whether your website will be shown in SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and whether users will click through. Keyword-rich page titles help search engines determine what your page is about and whether it’s relevant to a user’s search query.

    User activity. Even after serving your site as a result, it’s important to have a well-crafted page title and meta description to help guide users to your site. Relevant and informative page titles and meta descriptions help influence users to click through to your site.
Once you determine what keywords you’d like to optimize for, there are several user-friendly WordPress plugins to help users easily create optimized page titles and meta descriptions, most notably WordPress SEO.

2. Fix Duplicate Blog Content

One common mistake with SEO is the issue of duplicate content. Duplicate content is extremely harmful to your site; not only does it devalue your content, but most importantly, this could be viewed as “spammy” and can negatively impact your rankings.

If you must keep posts under multiple categories, you have several options. One option is to completely remove the category from the URL structure of your blog posts.
To change the link structure of your blog posts, you begin by visiting Permalinks in the Settings section of your WordPress dashboard:
You can then select the URL structure of your blog posts. A helpful hint: these changes will be immediately applied to all blog posts, including ones you’ve already published.

3. De-index Tag & Archive Pages

In an effort to help organize your blog content, you’ve likely inserted relevant tags. As a result, your blog will generate tag pages to help visitors browse your blog topics by tags. This can certainly help users navigate your blog, it could have an impact on SERP. Although search engines may find these pages to be relevant to search queries, tag pages aren’t ideal for new visitors coming to your site.

Another byproduct of your blog are archive pages. These pages are automatically generated, and depending on the size of your blog, can add numerous pages to your site. These pages might improve user navigation in your blog, but it usually creates several archive pages at the root domain.

Search engines tend to find pages easier the closer they are to the root, meaning they’re also at a higher level. With numerous archive pages at the root, Google and other search engines could see your archive pages as the same level of importance as your optimized landing page – simply because they’re both located at the root domain.
Inserting noindex tags or disallowing these pages in the robot.txt file are both effective solutions to allow these pages to exist without affecting search results. Noindex tags are very straightforward – they tell search engines not to index these pages for search results. Your robot.txt works similarly, but rather than simply tell search engines to not index, you can prevent search engines from crawling these pages altogether.

Also read:

 The Many Uses to Which You Can Put Your WordPress Website

 What you should know about optimizing your WordPress website for speed

 WordPress Search Engine Optimization Tutorial

4. Optimize Site Images

It’s important to make sure you’re optimizing your images for search.
Search engines do a great job in identifying your website’s content, but it’s not as strong at identifying images. Inserting descriptive alt texts will help search engines identify the content of your images and as a result, help your site appear in more relevant searches.

Another factor to consider in regard to your site images is load time. Google has used site speed as a ranking factor for several years, and images can have an impact on your overall site speed.

Try to avoid using large image files when possible; many sites mistakenly insert large images and simply resize them on the page rather than uploading a smaller image file. Although the image appears smaller on the site, visitors still must download each image at its original size which negatively influences your site speed.

5. Optimize for Mobile Traffic

A mobile-friendly site is important for all websites, especially after Google recently rolled out changes for mobile search to emphasize pages that are mobile-friendly and penalize those that aren’t seen as mobile-friendly.

This change could have a big impact on your site traffic, especially if the majority of your traffic comes from mobile users. You can determine your mobile traffic through the Audience section in Google Analytics.

6. Don’t over-optimize

One of the best SEO strategies is often one of the most overlooked: creating quality content. Search engines want to share the best and most relevant sites, and your site should reflect this as well. Your SEO strategy should never rely on the number of times your keyword appears on your site – quality content should always be your number one priority


More on How to optimize Wordpress website for search engines

    Permalinks - WordPress' tool for customizing your blog links;
    Meta descriptions - set a correct meta description for each page/post you make to improve your ranking in the search results;
    Optimize your images - allow search engines to correctly index your images;
    Use Headings - the proper structure of your articles will rank your content higher;

How to use Permalinks to optimize your WordPress website

WordPress gives you the freedom to set your links the way you want them to look like. In the administrative area of WordPress go to Settings -> Permalinks. On this page you can choose from several predefined options or use a custom structure for your links.

 You can choose the Custom Structure option and enter /%postname%/ for example. This will make your links look like http://yourdomain.com/the-name-of-your-post/. Or you can enter /category/postname/ if you want to include the name of your category in the URL. You can also add custom text or other WordPress variables. The full list of available variables that you can use in your permalinks can be found at the WordPress official website.

How to optimize your meta descriptions

You should enter the meta description for each one of your pages. Use simple but informative sentences. The search engines will check how relevant your description is to the actual content of your page so  make sure that you describe only the current page and avoid adding irrelevant information in this description.

It is a good practice to categorize your posts in articles. Once you go to the Posts -> Categories page in your admin area, note the description field available for each category. WordPress will take what you enter in this field and insert it as meta description for the category.

 
How to optimize your images

It is essential to have the "title" and "alt" tags specified for each one of the images you use in your posts. The search engines will then know what this image is supposed to represent. Typing the title and alt tags for each image you use, however, can be a time-consuming task. Instead, you can use the handy SEO Friendly Images plugin. For more information on how to install this plugin, you can check our tutorial on How to install WordPress plugins.

Once you install the plugin, go to Settings -> SEO Friendly Images in your WordPress admin area. On this page you can specify the ALT and TITLE tags for your images. The plugin gives you the option to use internal variables such as %title, %name and %category. With them you can set the ALT and TITLE tags of your images to the title of your post for example. The plugin does the rest. This saves you a lot of time  and keeps your images SEO-friendly .

How to use Headings to optimize your WordPress blog

You should make sure that you use the <h1> tag only for the titles of your posts.

You should use a few <h2> tags and as many <h3> tags as you need for the other headings in your posts. Doing this will allow the search engines to index the important information from your website better. A good document has headings and subheadings, because headings make it easier to determine the subject of the page.

For blog websites the best SEO practice is to set the title of your post in a heading1 tag. Most of the good WordPress templates do that. If not, you should modify the theme in order to achieve a correct output of your pages.


Managing WordPress Server Load Problems

WordPress is a very popular plugin application and could go for the most widely used web development applications. Like with every other content management system, as traffic increases, lags could be noticed which could create some server load problems. There is a remedy to that and that is what we shall discuss in this article, how to manage server load issues with WordPress.

The following are a few tips to help you reduce the amount of load your WordPress site puts on your server:

1. Keep plugins updated – Sometimes a slow site might be due to a bug in one of your plugins. Try updating them to see if performance improves. You may also need to try isolating the problem plugin and removing/replacing it if there is no solution to its bug.

Keep WordPress up-to-date – Like with plugins, new versions of WordPress may fix old performance problems. Keeping it up to date and correcting what could have been a serious problem.

Use caching – Caching is a great way to reduce CPU load. If you have several pages that are frequently accessed and only occasionally (if ever) updated, it makes no sense for PHP to call up your database every single time someone accesses that page. By caching those pages, they will load faster for users and put less stress on your server.

Slim down your theme – Because web design can affect the speed of your website, it is right to slim down your WordPress theme to gain more website speed. A bloated theme with lots of extra javascript and unnecessary markup will just slow down your server and require more power. Consider optimizing your CSS and Javascript files and only keep around the HTML markup that you actually need.

Use a content delivery network (CDN) – If you have a lot of media (images, video, etc.), a CDN may help you reduce your server’s workload. Your media will be loaded offsite, making it faster for users and more efficient for you.


How to speed up your WordPress website with WordPress Cache

What is caching?

Caching is essentially saving a copy of your website on server so when there is a page request, the server simply pulls the static copy already saved instead of loading the entire page. This speeds up your website a great deal.

A WordPress caching plugin will do this for you and will make a copy of the HTML code, then serve that to the next visitor, saving time.
WordPress without caching

This is why it's important to run a WordPress caching plugin, especially in a shared environment. If you suddenly have a surge in traffic to a few of your pages, it could quickly cause a lot of resources to be used needlessly.

So which plugins can do the caching for you. Here are a few and they should be enough for you. Any one of them can be very effective.

Also read:  How to Optimize and Speed Up Your WordPress Website

1. W3 Total Cache

One of the simplest WordPress caching plugins to setup is WP Super Cache. However if you need more advanced caching options such as the ability to serve a static 404 error page the steps below will walk you through installing and configuring the W3 Total Cache plugin for WordPress.

**Note: This will not work with Wordpress Multisites. Follow the steps outlined below to install and use the W3 Total Cache Plugin.

    Hover over Plugins in the left-hand menu, then click Add New.

    In the Search box, type in w3 total cache and click on Search Plugins.

    Under W3 Total Cache click on Install Now.

    Click OK in the installation pop-up.

    Click Activate Plugin.

    You should now see Plugin activated.

    From the left-hand menu, you should now have a new Performance section, hover over this and click on General Settings.

    Scroll down the general settings page ensuring that each main section is enabled.

    These would be:

    Page Cache

    Minify


    NOTE: If you are using minify, make sure to enable the option, save it and then immediately look at your WordPress site to make sure that the site looks normal. If you see problems with formatting, then it's possible that a theme or plugin is causing issues due to the minification. You should then disable minification and not use this option with your website.

    Database Cache

    Object Cache

    Browser Cache, after enabling this option click on Save all settings

    Hover over Performance again in the left-hand menu, and click on Page Cache.

    Ensure that these options have a checkmark beside them, then click on Save all settings:

    Cache home page

    Cache feeds: site, categories, tags, comments

    Cache 404 (not found) pages

    Cache requests only for yourdomain.com hostname

    Don't cache pages for logged in users

    Finally to confirm that you've setup everything correctly, in your web-browser open up your site and hit (Ctrl-U), or go to View -> Page source to view the source of the page. Scroll to the very bottom of the page and you should see the W3 Total Cache banner letting you know the page has been optimized.

Once you've confirmed that W3 Total Cache is up and running properly on your website you're done.

Also read: How to speed up your WordPress website with WordPress Cache

2. WP Super Cache

How to speed up your WordPress website with WP Super Cache Plugin

WP Super Cache can help optimize your WordPress website and reduce its load time. With WP Super Cache, your website will load faster and use less server resources.

You can install WP Super Cache by first logging into your WordPress Dashboard.

    Once you have logged into your WordPress Dashboard, click on Plugins on the left menu pane. Then click Add New.
   
    Use the search box, and search for "super cache".
   
    After the search is finished, you can locate the plugin and click "Install Now"
   
    Once the plugin installation is complete, click on "activate Plugin"
   
    You will see a "red box" to remind you to enable WP Super Cache. click on the "Plugin Admin Page".
   
    Enable caching by clicking on the button next to "Caching On" and then click "Update Status"
   
    On the same screen, click on the "advanced" tab.

    Please select the "Use mod_rewrite to serve cache files" option and click "update status"

    Next you should receive this message below.
   
    Scroll down the page and you will see a large yellow box. Click on the button labeled "Update Mod_Rewrite Rules" at the bottom of the box.
   
    Once you click the box, it will change to green and be labeled "Mod rewrite rules updated".

Also read: Setting Canonical Urls in WordPress   

You have two different options to verify that WP Super Cache is installed correctly. The first way is to look at the source code of your website. The source code will show that the webpage was successfully cached. In most web browsers you can right click within the WordPress website and select "View Page Source". Look at the bottom of the page and you will see the following lines of code.

The second way to verify if super cache is working correctly and installed is checking the ,htaccess file. You can access the .htaccess file using a FTP client or through file manager in cPanel. In the same folder that contains your WordPress site, look for the .htaccess file and open it. In the .htaccess file you should see code similar to this.

 supercacheconfirm1

Once you have confirmed that WP Super Cache is installed and functioning correctly, you're done!

3. WP Fastest Cache

The WP Fastest Cache plugin for WordPress is a newer less robust caching plugin. However it is very simple to setup and configure correctly and still does a great job at reducing usage.

Taking these steps can help you address you a WordPress load problem.
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