As a side note, these are not ordered by importance or any criteria, I’ve just gathered everything I’ve learned about speeding up page loads on WordPress and compiled them here.
I guarantee that using even a few of these will drastically speed up your site.
1. Choose a good host
While starting out, a shared host might seem like a bargain (“Unlimited page views, wowie zowie!”), it comes at another price: incredibly slow site speed and frequent down time during high traffic periods.
If you plan on doing awesome stuff (aka the kind of stuff that creates high traffic periods), you’re killing yourself by running your WordPress site on shared hosting.
The stress of your site going down after getting a big feature is enough to create a few early gray hairs: don’t be a victim, invest in proper hosting.
2. Start with a solid framework/theme
You might be surprised to here this, but the Twenty Ten/Twenty Eleven “framework” (aka the default WP themes) are quite speedy frameworks to use.
That’s because they keep it the “guts” simple, and light frameworks are always the way to go to have a speedy site.
3. Use an effective caching plugin
WordPress plugins are obviously quite useful, but some of the best fall under the caching category, as they drastically improve page loads time, and best of all, all of them on WP.org are free and easy to use.
By far my favorite, bar none, is W3 Total Cache, I wouldn’t recommend or use any other caching plugin, it has all of the features you need and is extremely easy to install and use.
Simply install and activate, and what your page load faster as elements are cached.
4. Use a content delivery network (CDN)
All of your favorite big blogs are making use of this, and if you are into online marketing using WordPress (as I’m sure many of my readers are) you won’t be surprised to here that some of your favorite blogs like Copyblogger are making use of CDN’s.
5. Optimize images (automatically)
Yahoo! has an image optimizer called Smush.it that will drastically reduce the file size of an image, while not reducing quality.
However, if you are like me, doing this to every image would be beyond a pain, and incredibly time consuming.
Fortunately, there is an amazing, free plugin called WP-SmushIt which will do this process to all of your images automatically, as you are uploading them. No reason not to install this one.
6. Optimize your homepage to load quickly
This isn’t one thing but really a few easy things that you can do to ensure that your homepage loads quickly, which probably is the most important part of your site because people will be landing there the most often.
Things that you can do include:
- Show excerpts instead of full posts
- Reduce the number of posts on the page (I like showing between 5-7)
- Remove unnecessary sharing widgets from the home page (include them only in posts)
- Remove inactive plugins and widgets that you don’t need
- Keep in minimal! Readers are here for content, not 8,000 widgets on the homepage
Overall, a clean and focused homepage design will help your page not only look good, but load quicker as well.
7. Optimize your WordPress database
I’m certainly getting a lot of use out of the word “optimize” in this post!
This can be done the very tedious, extremly boring manual fashion, or…
You can simply use the WP-Optimize plugin, which I prefer.
This plugin lets you do just one simple task: optimize the your database (spam, post revisions, drafts, tables, etc.) to reduce their overhead.
I would also recommend the WP-DB Manager plugin, which can schedule dates for database optimization.
8. Disable hotlinking and leeching of your content
Hotlinking is a form of bandwidth “theft.” It occurs when other sites direct link to the images on your site from their articles making your server load increasingly high.
This can add up as more and more people “scrape” your posts or your site (and especially images) become more popular, as must do if you create custom images for your site on a regular basis.
9. Add an expires header to static resources
This way can cut your load time significantly for your regular users.
You need to copy and paste the following code in your root .htaccess file:
ExpiresByType image/gif A2592000
ExpiresByType image/png A2592000
ExpiresByType image/jpg A2592000
ExpiresByType image/jpeg A2592000
The above numbers are set for a month (in seconds), you can change them as you wish.
10. Add LazyLoad to your images
LazyLoad is the process of having only only the images above the fold load (i.e. only the images visible in the visitor’s browser window), then, when reader scrolls down, the other images begin to load, just before they come into view.
This will not only speed you page loads, it can also save bandwidth by loading less data for users who don’t scroll all the way down on your pages.
To do this automatically, install the jQuery Image Lazy Load plugin.
11. Control the amount of post revisions stored
WordPress, left to its own devices, would store every single one of these drafts, indefinitely.
Now, when this post is done and published, why would I need all of those drafts stored?
That’s why I use the Revision Control plugin to make sure I keep post revisions to a minimum, set it to 2 or 3 so you have something to fall back on in case you make a mistake, but not too high that you clutter your backend with unnecessary amounts of drafted posts.
12. Turn off pingbacks and trackbacks
By default, WordPress interacts with other blogs that are equipped with pingbacks and trackbacks.
Every time another blog mentions you, it notifies your site, which in turn updates data on the post. Turning this off will not destroy the backlinks to your site, just the setting that generates a lot of work for your site.
For more detail, read this explanation of WordPress Pingbacks, Trackbacks and Linkbacks.
13. Replace PHP with static HTML, when necessary
This one is a little bit advanced, but can drastically cut down your load time if you are desperate to include page load speeds.
There are three main things which will slow down your site for visitors:
1.Executing PHP commands
2.Pulling information from the database