There are a few common causes for slow WordPress sites, but there are straight-forward solutions for most of them. Here are four ways to speed up your site!
If your WordPress site is underperforming, you may feel at a loss when trying to pinpoint what’s slowing your site down. However, a sluggish site can directly impact your bottom line so it’s an important issue to address.
Some of the major causes behind a slow WordPress site can include cheap hosting and large page sizes. Thankfully, there are straight-forward solutions for these scenarios. By checking each common cause, you can uncover and resolve the reason for your site’s poor performance.
In this article, we will explore four ways to speed up WordPress’ performance, while offering actionable solutions for improvement throughout. Let’s get started!
1. Speed Up Your WordPress Server With Quality Hosting
The core issue of a slow site is often low-quality hosting. These cheap shared accounts are alluring for your budget, but can cost you much more in lost sales than they save you in front end pricing.
Misconfigured and unoptimized servers are normally sluggish to process code, and slow down to a halt when too many connections are made. Shared and cheap hosting providers aren’t typically equipped to handle heavy traffic to your web application or well-trafficked site. This means the first thing to check is your hosting provider. If you’re on shared hosting, fixing this is priority number one.
Before taking the leap into better hosting, consider the difference between managed and self-managed hosting. The latter may be cheaper and offer amazing resources. However, you’ll be in charge of learning how to configure and optimize a server to perform well. In contrast, managed hosting means that the server is maintained on your behalf, so you can focus on building up your site. This is ideal in a lot of cases – especially if you have a small IT team.
As for what to look for, the ideal managed host will offer you features such as:
- WordPress-specific optimizations.
- Load balancing.
- Global data centers.
- Geotargeted routing.
- Server-side caching.
- Content Delivery Network (CDN) services.
- High levels of security.
With these in place, you can be safe that your site is in good hands and simply focus on driving more traffic and increasing conversions.
Finally, cloud hosting has quickly become the industry standard for large-scale sites and web applications. It works so well because it can rely on multiple servers around the world to run your site at optimum speeds, rather than giving you a tiny slice of a server shared by many others using the same exact resources. While the cost will obviously increase, it’s still worth taking into consideration if you’d like to maintain a consistent global performance.
2. Use a Dedicated Database System
Another huge issue with WordPress websites is a slow database. It makes sense that individual databases can only handle so many requests at a time. Because of this, it is relatively easy to crash your average database. A basic hosting provider neither optimizes for (or is equipped to handle) the crash when things go wrong.
One of the major causes for WordPress data errors is overloading. If there are too many connections to the database, it quits – and if there isn’t a backup database to connect to, the site goes down. This highlights the importance of having many databases installed across a few different servers (i.e. ‘redundancy’). When one inevitably goes down, another can step in and complete the initial request.
MySQL is the primary database software for WordPress site,s due to its ready availability on most servers, but it is not the only option WordPress works with. You can set your WordPress site up to use dedicated database servers, making your site faster and more reliable.
You should look out for cloud-based, dedicated database solutions that offer:
- Faster performance than MySQL.
- Compatibility with MySQL.
- High security.
- High scalability.
- 99.9% or higher uptime.
- Full management, including backups.
Specifically, we recommend checking into Amazon Aurora, which has a great getting started guide to pass along to your developers.
3. Implement Caching for Reduced Server Load
By default, your server has to regenerate every single page of your WordPress website every time it’s loaded into the browser. Even on a decent server with a robust database configuration, this quickly creates an unnecessary amount of resource usage. On a cheap server, a well-visited WordPress website can quickly slow down the server and crash the database.
Rather than loading pages from scratch every time, your server can be configured to <’cache’ non-dynamic pages. When your visitor returns to your site, the server can send a static version of the page stored in the cache without regenerating it from scratch. Caches can be implemented both on the server and triggered within the visitor’s browser.
Good managed hosting accounts will offer a solid solution on the server side, with industry standard software such as Varnish Cache. Choosing a managed server that offers this kind of caching means you don’t have to worry about installing and configuring it yourself.
Meanwhile, on the WordPress side of things, you can take it one step further to trigger browser-side caching. Simply install and activate a plugin such as WP Super Cache, and your site should start zipping along – it really can be that simple!
4. Reduce the Size of User-Facing Pages
Finally, one more major issue for big websites is the actual data size of front end pages. Every script, image, video, or audio file has to be loaded into the visitor’s browser. If you have a lot of large files all being loaded onto one page, it can significantly slow down your site. This is especially true if your visitor has a poor internet connection.
Needlessly large data on a web page puts strain on the web server while producing poor usability for the end user. To tackle this one, you’ll need to reduce the amount of data each web page requires to load properly.
Without optimization, media and scripts quickly take up a lot of space. Even simply removing extra spaces can cut the size of a document nearly in half! This process is called ‘minification’.
First, you can see whether this is an issue for you by measuring the size of your site with a tool such as GTMetrix or Pingdom. Simply enter in your URL and run a test to see how big your site is compared to others, on average. The smaller, the better!
Due to their unoptimized size, images are often a major source of slow page speeds. They can be reduced in size before uploading using a website such as TinyPNG. Alternatively, you could install a plugin such as WP Smush to run automatically in the background and keep your images as web-friendly as possible.
You can also optimize the size of scripts by minifying and joining them together with a plugin such as Fast Velocity Minify. Meanwhile, make sure to check your front end code and remove any unused scripts – for example, Google Fonts that aren’t actually being used on the site.
By implementing these four changes, you should see a significant improvement to the performance of your WordPress website.
There are a few common causes for slow WordPress sites, with straight-forward solutions for most of them. By learning about what it takes to improve your site’s performance, you can make informed choices and win back speed to boot.
To review, four simple ways you can improve your WordPress site’s speed are:
- Move to managed hosting optimized to deliver WordPress sites quickly at scale.
- Reduce database bottlenecks with a powerful database delivery service, such as Amazon Aurora.
- Implement caching by choosing the right host and using WordPress plugins such as WP Super Cache.
- Optimize media and scripts for faster loading times using plugins such as WP Smush and Fast Velocity Minify.
What questions do you have about improving your WordPress site’s performance? Let us know and we’ll help you out in the comments section below.