Throughout this post I’m going to cover a whole range of different methods to get your WordPress website or blog running faster and whiz right past your competition!
We are living in a crazy age these days. Some people can gladly camp outside a store in the rain for the newest iPhone or Playstation 3, but if it takes longer than a few seconds for a web page to load they completely lose interest.
If your not using WordPress for your website or blog already, why not check out this post to see how easy it is to get started?
Why Does it Matter if my Site is Slow?
When I started my very first website, I was convinced that speed didn’t matter – people would wait for my content. It was AWESOME.
Well, that’s what I thought anyway. Needless to say, I was wrong.
It turns out that:
- 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
- Google seem to favour faster websites and blogs over their slower competitors in the search engine results.
And also, according to Aberdeen Group, A 1-second delay in page load time can result in:
- 11% fewer page views
- 16% decrease in customer satisfaction
- 7% loss in conversions
…CRAZY, isn’t it?
Think about it this way, how long will YOU wait for a website or video to load before deciding “it must be broken” or “I’m not waiting this long” and hit the back button on your internet browser?
It’s probably shorter than you would like to admit… Isn’t it? (Don’t worry, I’m not judging here – I am the same!)
Another thing to ask yourself is: “Do my competitors sites run slow?”
If the answer is yes then you have nothing to worry about, but the chances are they don’t, do they? So why let your competitors get all of the love from Google, and not you?
How To Monitor WordPress Site Speed
Now that we know our speed is important. We should probably check how fast it is now, before trying to get it to run faster. This way we will know that what we are doing is actually making a difference.
Then after a few seconds we will be presented with our sites overall speed, a “performance grade” and a few other details about your website or blogs speed. Including a percentage which tells us how fast our site is compared to ALL other tested websites and blogs.
Another cool thing about the Pingdom Site Speed Tool is that they have servers set up all over the world and check your speed from a random server each time. This way it doesn’t matter what part of the world you live in, you will always get a pretty accurate reading.
Right, so let’s speed up WordPress site!
So now that we know how fast our site loads, and we know that site speed important – here are 13 ways to speed up WordPress for free! (in no particular order).
Keep WordPress and Any Installed Plugins Up To Date
With every new update, WordPress keeps on improving. The developers put a lot of time and effort into making WordPress faster (and more secure), so it makes sense to always be running the most up to date version.
Also try to keep your WordPress Plugins up to date for the same reasons.
To check for any updates, we just need to click “Updates” in the left-hand menu of our WordPress Dashboard (under where it says “Dashboard” at the top).
Here we will be able to search for and install, Plugin, Theme and WordPress updates.
Limit Blog Post & Page Revisions
Every time we make changes to a post or page on our site, WordPress saves a revision copy in case we want to revert back to what we had before.
While this is a really handy feature to make sure we never screw up… we don’t need EVERY copy to be saved!
Lucky for us, it’s super easy to limit page and post revisions on WordPress using the free “Revision Control” plugin.
Once the plugin has been downloaded and installed, we just need to click on “Settings” (in the left-hand Dashboard menu) and then click “Revisions”.
Now, we can set how many revisions we would like saved for both our pages and our posts using the 2 drop-down menus.
Delete All Unnecessary or Badly Coded Plugins and Speed up WordPress
WordPress Plugins are AWESOME! There’s no denying that, but unfortunately some a little more so than others.
Some plugins have not been created as well as they could have been, but still end up being published and sent into circulation. (mostly by people just starting to learn how to code plugins).
We can’t really blame them, creating a plugin from scratch is hard work – and they gotta start somewhere!
One thing we can do however, is make sure that the plugins we have installed on our site ARE coded well.
We can use the free “P3 Performance Profiler” plugin to see which of our plugins are taking up more space than they should (within a few seconds), and then use the information to see which plugins we should remove. We can then search for alternative plugins to replace them with.
To scan our plugins, we first just need to install and activate the P3 Performance Plugin. Then from the dashboard, click “Tools” and then underneath, – click “P3 Plugin Profiler”.
Now we just need to click “Scan” and then “Auto Scan”.
The plugin will then go ahead and scan all of the plugins we have activated on WordPress, and when it’s done we just need to click “View Results”.
It’s then going to show us how much time each plugin adds to our sites overall loading time (see image below). Now we just need to replace any that are slowing us down
Automatically Compress Your Sites Images to Help Speed up WordPress
Images are something that we NEED to have on our website or blog. They convey emotions and help your visitor make a stronger connection with your content.
The bad news however, is that after a while images can really start to take their toll on our sites overall speed.
Don’t worry though, it’s easy to speed up WordPress using the truly awesome “WP Smush” plugin.
With this plugin we can automatically compress our images to their lowest possible size WITHOUT taking away from the quality.
Once we download and install the “WP Smush” plugin, we can choose to “Bulk Smush” the images we have already on our site (50 at a time using the free version).
You can also rest easy knowing that any new images will be automatically “Smushed” when we upload them to WordPress.
No further set up is required. (what an awesome plugin!)
To “Bulk Smush” images using WP Smush:
From the Dashboard, we just need to click “Media” and then “WP Smush”. Then just to scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “Bulk Smush Now”.
Once it’s done “Smushing” our images, it will show us how much space was saved – and then we’re done. Simple. We also have the option to “Smush” images individually through our “Media Library”.
The WP Smush plugin is probably one of my favourites when it comes to speeding up WordPress. It’s just so easy.
Embed Videos Rather Than Uploading Them Directly on WordPress
Uploading videos directly to our WordPress website or blog is probably one of the worst things we can do in regards to site speed.
Videos take up a LOT more space then you may think. I just checked one of my videos I recorded a while back, it’s only 10 minutes 43 seconds long and takes up 36.5 MB. (there are 1,000 MB in a gigabyte).
So to help speed up WordPress and keep our site loading fast, we should instead upload our videos to a free video sharing site like YouTube and then EMBED them onto our site.
Having YouTube host the video for us will free up a lot of much needed space and allow our site to run a lot quicker than before.
All we need to do is sign up for a free account with YouTube and then upload any videos we want to use on our site. Then we can “embed” the videos onto our different pages or posts. Click here to see how this is done (will open a YouTube video of mine in a new window/tab).
I recommend setting the video to NOT show related videos after it’s finished. This way people won’t get distracted from your content by other peoples videos on YouTube.
Make Sure The Theme Your Using Follows The WordPress Best Practices
Just like with plugins, WordPress Themes can be badly coded too. You want to make sure that your website or blog is built using a trusted and well coded theme.
[bctt tweet=”Badly Coded WordPress Themes = Bad Times!“]
The easiest way to check that we are using a decent theme, is by using the free and aptly named “Theme Check” plugin.
All we need to do is download and activate the plugin. Then, from the Dashboard we just need to click “Appearance” and then “Theme Check” (underneath).
Then using the drop-down menu, choose which of your installed themes you want to check and click “Check it!”.
The plugin will then perform a scan and show us any errors or anything that may be wrong with that particular theme. The more errors it shows, the more likely you should pick a different theme.
Don’t worry, a few is normal – just look out for any that sound serious. (You can Google what they mean if you’re not sure… ah, good ol’ Google!)
Remove Any Extra Widgets You May Have From Your Sidebars and Widget Areas
One thing I have definitely been guilty of in the past is having FAR too many Widgets in my sidebar. There are just so many cool things we can put there, but we should pace ourselves.
Just think. Our site is going to have to load every single one of those widgets any time someone visits a page or post. For this reason, we should try and pick maybe 5 or 6 widgets, and stick with them. (definitely keep your optin form though!)
Too many widgets can also distract people from your actual content, so that’s another positive benefit of removing a few.
Gzip Your Site!
In case you are wondering, “Gzipping” is where the files on our website or blog are compressed to a smaller size. According to a few different sources, Gzipping your site can make it load up to 70% faster!
And to make things even better, we can accomplish this in literally a few minutes by downloading and activating the free “GZip Ninja Speed Compression” plugin.
We don’t even need to set it up, it just does it. (gotta love them WordPress plugins!)
Install A Good Caching Plugin to Speed up WordPress
Every time a visitor lands on one of our pages or posts, WordPress has to load up all of the text, images etc each time.
If we install a “Caching Plugin” however, we can cut down how much data our site will need to load for return visitors significantly – thus helping us to speed up our WordPress website or blog.
So what exactly is “Caching”?
Here is a perfect description of “Caching” as quoted from WPmudev:
“The way caching plugins work is by saving the dynamically generated HTML files and serving them from the cache (i.e. reusing previously generated data) whenever a request is made, rather than loading all of the PHP scripts from WordPress every time you hit refresh. The result is that your site loads far quicker for all its visitors.”
In my option, the best caching plugin for WordPress is a free plugin called “W3 Total Cache”. It’s a super popular plugin, with over 1 million downloads and an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 in the WordPress Plugin Directory.
Once the plugin has been installed and activated, we are done. There is nothing we need to set up, the plugin knows what to do![bctt tweet=”Delete your WordPress “Cache”, not your CASH! (a quicker website, means more $ in your pocket)”]
If you ever make any changes to your website or blog and they aren’t showing up right away, hover your mouse over where it now says “Performance” and then click “Empty All Caches”. 9 times out of 10, doing this will fix the problem.
Optimize The Blog Aspect of Your Site to Speed up WordPress
By “Blog Aspect”, I literally just mean whichever page your blog posts show up on. This could be your homepage, or any other page on your site. There are 2 very simple ways to optimize the blog part of your site, and they are as follows.
1. Show EXCERPTS instead of your full blog posts.
Excerpts are the text that appears under (or beside) our blog posts titles when scrolling through the different posts in our blog.
To change our blog so that it shows excerpts instead of our full blog posts, from the Dashboard – we just need to click “Settings” and then “Reading” (underneath).
Then in the “Reading Settings” we just need to check “Summary” instead of “Full Post” and then click “Save Changes” underneath.
By default our post excerpts will be the first 200 or so words of the post itself, however we can change this to say whatever we like in the “post editor” when editing the post (under where it says “Excerpt”).
2. Reduce the number of posts on the page.
By default WordPress sets the amount of posts to show on one page at 10. While this isn’t THAT many, it’s still a few more than we need. I like setting mine to show around 5 or 6.
The less posts that have to load at one time, the quicker the page should load.
To reduce the amount of posts that appear on our blog page, we just need to head back to the “Reading Settings”.
So, from the Dashboard, click “Settings” in the left-hand menu, and then “Reading” underneath.
Then we just need to change the number in the box labelled “Blog pages show at most” to be however many blog posts we want to appear on each page and then click “Save Changes”. Now when we visit our blog, we will only see that many posts on any one page.
By implementing both of the methods above, our site will now only need to load 5 or 6 post EXCERPTS instead of the every post we have ever written!
Make Sure Your Images Are Lazy!
When someone visits a page or post on our site, by default the page tries to load everything at once (text, images, videos etc). Needless to say, this can put a lot of strain on our site and make it load slower than we would like (especially for longer posts and pages).
By installing and activating the free “Lazy Load” plugin we can make it so our images only load as and when they are needed.
Once we have activated the plugin, only images that will be visible right away will load and the rest will load up as the reader scrolls down the page (we don’t even need to change any settings)… pretty cool, huh?
Turn Off WordPress Trackbacks & Pingbacks
In case you don’t know already, “Trackbacks” and “Pingbacks” are a way for blogs (and websites) to notify their owners when another blog has linked to them. Which sounds awesome, but unfortunately loading all of the Trackbacks and Pingbacks can slow down our site, so sometimes it’s better to turn them off altogether.
To deactivate Trackbacks and Pingbacks on WordPress, we just need to click where it says “Settings” in the left-hand Dashboard menu and then “Discussion” underneath.
Then just uncheck the box beside where it says “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) on new articles” and click “Save Changes” at the bottom.
Now Trackbacks and Pingbacks will be disabled for all new pages and posts that we publish. We can also change this for each post individually from within the post editor.
Minify All of Your WordPress Sites Code
This probably sounds a lot more complicated that it actually is. Minifying our WordPress sites basically means deleting all of the “white space” from our site code.
And to be fair, we don’t even need to do it thanks to “Better WordPress Minify”.
“Better WordPress Minify” is a free plugin which will do all of the work for us. We just need to download and activate the plugin, that’s it. The plugin is set up to minify our sites code automatically (you can change the settings, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you know what you’re doing).
So there you have it… 13 ways to speed up your WordPress website or blog for free.
And even if you only implement a few of these methods on your site, you should still notice a positive difference in your overall site speed. If you’re lucky, you may even notice improved search engine rankings over time too!
To reap the full benefits, I would recommend implementing all of the methods listed above as they will only take a few minutes each. Also, the chances are your competitors aren’t doing ALL of them…
I hope you have found this post helpful and I hope your WordPress site is running much faster than before! (once you’re done)
Do you know of any other methods of speeding up WordPress for free that I didn’t mention? I would love if you could leave them as a comment below for me and everyone else to see.
Also, if you know anyone else who’s WordPress website or blog is running slower than it should, why not do them a favor and share this post with them? After all:
[bctt tweet=”We All Learn BEST When We Learn TOGETHER!“]
Until Next Time,
If you are looking for a better WordPress theme, check out this post where I cover 13 reasons why I recommend using an ELEGANT Theme.