If your site loads s-l-o-w-l-y visitors are less likely to stick around and read your blog or find out more about your products or services. So it’s important to optimize your WordPress blog for speed. Many of these tips also apply to any website, WordPress powered or not.
Luckily you don’t have to be a php programming whiz to take some basic steps to improve your blog’s speed.
First, it’s important to understand what can cause a website to load slowly, so that you know what not to do:
- Don’t download and active 50 plugins if you aren’t using them.
- Don’t use gigantic photos on your blog.
- Don’t add dozens of widgets from other websites.
Let’s look at these one at a time.
Plugins: Plugins are awesome. They allow you to do amazing things with your blog. But they can also slow it down. So it’s important to periodically review which plugins are installed. Deactivate and then delete any that you aren’t using.
Images: Always resize your images before you upload them to your blog, or allow WordPress to resize them and use the medium or small option. Photos directly from your digital camera are likely very large and will slow down your blog’s loading speed.
External Scripts & Widgets: Each time your blog includes a widget from another site, it has to stop and wait on that site to respond and send the widget information, and then continue loading. So if you’ve got your side bar cluttered up with an Amazon affiliate widget, Google AdSense, a YouTube video, Facebook fan box, NetworkedBlogs, Google Friend Connect, Tweet stream, Lifestream, and 10 affiliate products you’re promoting, plus including several analytics trackers, it’s going to slow down your page loading time. Consider cutting back on how many external things you’re linking to. At least watch them and see if any particular ones are causing your site to look like it’s stuck while it’s loading.
In addition to the day-to-day decisions involving plugins, photos, and widgets, you want to look at a few other important factors in your loading speed.
A Good Web Host: Don’t go for the cheapest, unlimited everything web host. You’ll probably run into issues as your blog grows and gets more traffic. It’ll run slow and you may end up getting booted by your “unlimited” host for using too much of the server’s resources. Ask your friends and colleagues to get recommendations for a reliable web host.
Smart Theme Design: Is your theme image heavy (lots of images)? Does it incorporate a lot of flash elements? You may want to rethink it if so. Consider making little changes to use CSS instead of images to style your blog and replace flash with regular images. Both of these will speed up loading time.
Caching: Install the plugin WP Super Cache. It’s a free plugin that can significantly improve the loading time for your blog. Take time to read the help information so you understand how the various settings work. W3 Total Cache is a similar plugin you can consider.