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How to speed up your WordPress website

Everyone wants a fast website. Users appreciate a quick load time, and search engines love it even more. So if you want a decent ranking, then you’d better have a fast site.

There are lots of things to consider when improving your site speed, here are a list of some of things to help you on your way to a faster site.

1. Hosting

Yep, it’s important. You know the old saying “You pay peanuts, you get monkeys”? Well, it rings true with hosting. Don’t get me wrong, a 123-Reg or HeartInternet account is fine for a personal site, or even a very small business site. But depending on the size of your website, and the volume of traffic you’re expecting, having a good host is essential. I recommend NimbusHosting (https://www.nimbushosting.co.uk), they are my hosting company of choice (and no, I don’t get paid to say that). I host all of my sites with them and have recommended them to countless clients over the years. Yes, they’re more expensive than a £30 per year host, but you get what you pay for, and if you’re serious about your business, then it’s a wise investment.

2. Try not to use an off the shelf theme

WordPress themes are everywhere. You can pick them up for free if you really want, but we go back to the previous comment of ‘you get what you pay for’. There are some amazing themes out there, don’t get me wrong. The problem is, most of them are bloated with features you’ll never need or use, so it’s like using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. If you want a quicker site, then you should aim for a bespoke theme that is created specifically for your requirements.

3. Identify any plugins that are slowing you down

Like the above, some plugins have tons of features you don’t need – or even if you need them, you may not need them on every page of your site. For instance, a lot of people opt for an image slider on their homepage, but the scripts are loaded on all pages via the plugin. Once you know what plugins are slowing you down, you can make an informed decision on wether to keep them or not.

4. Compress your website

This may be one for your developer, but you should always compress your site. Install GZIP by opening your htaccess file and adding the following code:

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript

It’s that simple, and there is no down-side. A smaller site means a faster site.

5. Minify CSS and JavaScript

This goes hand in hand with comments about themes and plugins. You’ll find that if you’ve used more than a couple of plugins, you’ll quickly end up with lots of scripts and styles being loaded in. Just grab the Better WordPress Minify (https://wordpress.org/plugins/bwp-minify/) plugin and it’ll do the hard work for you.

6. Turn off Pingback and Trackbacks

While they can be good for certain sites, chances are as a business, you don’t need these features. All they do is alert other blogs if you link to them, and it can really kill your page speed. Turn them off under the “Discussion” tab in “Settings.”

7. CSS at the top, JavaScript at the bottom

You should always put your CSS in the head (obviously), but move any JavaScript to the bottom where possible, it prevents the browser from doing any heavy lifting until the page has loaded, meaning quicker load times.

8. Enable ‘Keep Alive’

This is a lesser known one, but HTTP Keep Alive basically allows the client’s machine to download multiple files without asking permission every time, this saves on bandwidth and you’ll notice a speed increase. To do this, open your htaccess file again, and add this line of code:

Header set Connection keep-alive

If you follow those simple steps, you should notice a significant increase in your site speed in no time.