How To Keep Your WordPress Website Running As Fast As Possible

WordPress is one of the most expansive, and unique website building resources on the market. Millions of companies, blogs, and even storytellers utilize the platform for their online businesses. However, there are a few major drawbacks to WordPress that can get a bit frustrating if you are new – namely, it can be a bit sluggish.

When not properly optimized, WordPress has a tendency to run a bit on the slow side. When this happens, it can be a pain for your website visitors to try and navigate your website. This, I don’t need to tell you, is not good for business.

So, if you personally find yourself dealing with a bit of a slow down from your WordPress site, here are a few ways to speed it up: –

The Importance Of Speed On A WordPress Website

Before we dive into how to speed up your WordPress website, let’s first discuss why speed matters in the first place. You see, when it comes to the modern age of the internet, loading time and responsiveness is crucial to your online success.

The primary ‘need for speed’ is in your SEO optimization. Google, and other search engines, take into account user experience and website performance when ranking pages in their algorithm. This means that websites that do not respond as quickly, will not rank as highly on search engine listings.

In addition, users who must wait even a few extra seconds will perceive a noticeable drop off in quality. This can lead to the user leaving your site entirely, and losing interest in your product or service. So, for the sake of your Google rankings, and for your potential customers, speed is crucial.

How To Keep Your WordPress Website Fast

There are a few small tips and tricks that you can do in order to speed up your WordPress website. Luckily, most of these can be done in just a few minutes and can improve your speeds drastically right off the bat. In no particular order of importance, here are a few of the most effective methods.

Remember, it never hurts to try and do all of these when building your WordPress website.

1.) Evaluate Your Hosting

It is all too easy to fall into the trap of shared web hosting providers. They lure small business owners in with sweet promises of unlimited bandwidth, high-speed connections, an unlimited number of domains, and a lower than low cost. However, these services are not exactly optimized for providing high-performance speeds when it comes to the actual websites they host.

Shared servers split the load across dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of other websites. This means that during peak hours, everyone suffers equally. This, of course, becomes a problem. If you are looking for faster speeds, you should always use a dedicated cloud hosting service that can handle your website alone; or you can opt for your own dedicated server, however, this does come with increased cost.

Services like Amazon Web, Google Compute Engine, and zFast are all great – and affordable – options for getting your website off the ground fast. They offer dedicated cloud hosting services at a very low price, and believe me, it’s worth it.

2.) Keep Images Small

Images on your webpage are going to be some of the worst offenders when it comes to bogging down your speed. Images will take up a significant portion of your web page ‘size’, and will cause a slowdown in speeds across the board. It is crucial that you keep your images as small as possible, without sacrificing quality.

Many WordPress site owners will use Photoshop, or other image editing services to manually resize and adjust their photos. However, there are other extensions that make the process easier such as Optimole or Smush.

There is no ‘magic’ size that your images should be exactly. However, they should be as small as possible while still achieving the desired effect that you want to reach.

3.) Uninstall/Remove Unnecessary Plugins

Plugins will be the death of any and all performance enhancements you hope to make when left unchecked. Unnecessary or unwanted plugins will add an untold amount of clutter and ‘junk’ to your web page files and database. This will in turn slow everything down by ‘weighing’ it all down.

Plugins will also increase the load on your servers when they try to perform routine backups of all of your web files. It’s easy to see why plugins might become an issue over time. Deleting all of your unnecessary and unwanted plugins is a fast and easy way to immediately increase speeds on your WordPress site.

Take the time to analyze your plugins, and determine which aren’t being used and which can be replaced by other services. For example, some plugins can be replaced entirely by third-party services which can automate a lot of your tasks.

4.) Keep Your WordPress Theme ‘Lightweight’

It can be hard to resist a lot of the custom WordPress themes and layouts that are on the market today. Many of them are so ‘shiny’ and ‘fancy’ that they can make any new WordPress designer feel lured into the all bells and whistle approach. However, it is important to remember that these fancy themes do not come without a price, and in this case, that price is enormous file sizes.

The major issue with feature-heavy themes and layouts is that they put a lot of strain on your servers. This can dramatically affect your page load times, and hurt your overall performance. In this regard, it can be more beneficial to choose a ‘lightweight’ and more ‘basic’ theme instead. WordPress has many default themes which can be customized and are attractive, while remaining lightweight and snappy.

It is important to weigh the pros and cons of more feature-heavy themes and layouts. If you feel like the layout is going to use a significant portion of your server space to run it, then it’s best to avoid that theme.

5.) Use A CDN Service

CDN stands for ‘Content Delivery Network’. These services are designed to host copies of your webpage in various locations across the world. This is to help reduce loading times for your users who are far away from the geographic location where you, or your hosting company, hosts your web page.

It may seem odd, but the location of your users actually can affect loading speeds. Users who are further away from where you host your webpage can experience slower loading speeds than those who are closer. That is why CDN services can be a game-changer for those doing international business.

CDNs will automatically connect the user to the closest ‘version’ of your website to them geographically. These are stored in data centers across the world, and will help cut down on the time it takes for the user to access your WordPress site. If you anticipate doing a fair bit of international business/related work, always use a CDN.

6.) Clean-Up Your Database

In a similar way to uninstalling plugins, you will want to clean up your database entirely from time-to-time. There can be a lot of clutter that accrues over time that will bog down the performance and speed of your WordPress site. This occurs naturally, and cannot really be helped. Imagine your database as your house – if you never clean up your house, it will naturally get messy rather quickly.

Every once in a while, you should go through and do a bit of ‘spring cleaning’ on your WordPress database. This can include deleting old content drafts, spam comments on posts, and even fake user accounts that have gone unnoticed. These little things can add up to a lot of data over time if left unchecked.

Always remember to take the time to clean up the ’house’, in order to keep things running at peak efficiency.

Disable ‘Trackbacks’ and ‘Pingbacks’

Trackbacks and pingbacks are essentially options within WordPress that notify the owner of the website whenever someone links to their page. Perhaps someone might link to your blog, or website, when referencing something you offer/have written. This is of course a great thing generally, but tracking this through WordPress puts a lot of unnecessary strain on your servers.

Trackbacks and pingbacks require WordPress to generate requests from the linking source back and forth, which makes things run a bit slow due to the dedicated processing power needed. In this regard, having trackbacks and pingbacks enabled can be a bit of a bummer for your overall speeds.

Instead of using trackbacks and pingbacks, use a third-party service such as Google Webmaster Tools to keep an eye on links to your website. This will give you an insight into any backlinks to your page, without the unnecessary slowdown of your page.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your WordPress running quickly should always be a priority for anyone hosting a website or online business service. In this day and age, users expect lightning speeds and immediate response times. Society has certainly not become more patient with their internet speeds over time.

It is crucial to keep your WordPress website running as well as possible, in order to give your users a good experience. This experience will keep them coming back, which will in-turn improve your SEO and search rankings. It’s a win-win-win!

Just make sure to stay on top of the ‘little things’, and consistently troubleshoot and test your page for speed and loading times. If you ever notice that your WordPress site is running behind, go through a few of these tricks and watch your loading times improve instantly.

Web Design Huddersfield by Ben Dickinson of Athena Media

Written and Edited by Ben Dickinson

Athena Media was set up by Ben Dickinson with a huge passion and ambition to provide quality digital marketing to businesses in and around West Yorkshire.

I’ve always believed the key to success online is building a great digital presence. I love amplifying how businesses are seen online. From amazing web design to outstanding search engine optimisation… a good digital brand always pays off.