A Complete Guide to Optimize WordPress Sites

Creating a WordPress site these days is as easy as creating a Facebook account.

Okay, not that easy,

but close enough,

thanks to those cool scripts offered by Hostgator and Bluehost hosting.

And once you get a better understanding of how the WordPress installation works, you can always use a better method to install WordPress.

However, today, we are going to cover a different topic, it’s for existing bloggers who own a WordPress site and majority of them face one single issue.

A slow site,

despite making all the efforts to make their sites feel fast and load faster.

In this post, we are going to talk about steps that can be taken to make a WordPress site load fast, in other words, how to Optimise a WordPress site.

Your life is going to be so much easier if you complete this task of making your site load faster. I would like to mention two tools which you can use to check your site’s performance.

These are Pingdom and GT Metricsthese are great tools, but as also bad at the same time.

Good, because they tell you how your sites are doing, so that you can take steps to optimise it.

Bad, because it can overwhelm you with tonnes of information, fixing few things might even not be in your control. And, I haven’t found any single site that’s perfect in the eyes of these tools. So, fix things you can fix by following the steps mentioned below and leave the things you don’t understand.

And keep reading WPCornr because I am going to share things I learn along the way, and you might find a few things that bother you. Anyway, let’s get started with our list.

1. Increase Your Site Performance by using Best WordPress Theme

Yes, if you thought that a WordPress theme just gives you a decent design, there is more to it. A theme can make or break a site. If it isn’t nicely coded, not only it will give you a slow loading site, it will also punish you with poor Search Engine rankings, and boy you can lose tens of Dollars, So, use a fraction of it and spend on purchasing a nicely coded theme to prevent this loss.

I highly recommend MyThemesShop, because they’ve got the best collection of themes suitable for any type of blog. And all their themes are known for being super fast.

In fact most viral blogs use their themes because a viral blog has a lot of traffic and they need a theme that’s fast as well as looks good, something MTS themes have in them

RecommendedLearn how to create a successful Viral blog.

2. Use Fewer Plugins (Only Important Ones)

The best part of using WordPress is the Plugins, with the help of these Add-Ons, you can literally add any feature to your blog. They come in all sizes, small, big, free, premium.

There are few plugins that are Free but are also great, like the SEO Plugin by Yoast, Akismet, Jetpack, Quick Adsense, but for some unique features, you should also head over to CodeCanyon, the largest collection of Premium Plugins.

You should always use Plugins downloaded from trusted sources like CodeCanyon or WordPress Plugins sections, because, again, it’s a script you are adding your WordPress site, and I don’t think you need a lecture on how a bad soul can put a nasty line of code in that script to make your blog vulnerable to hacks.

Apart from using Plugins from trusted sources, make sure you only use the ones you really need, because each plugin you add to your site, one more script is added that will make n number of requests to load the complete site, increasing the time to load the site.

For example: When you activate JetPack and connect to WordPress, it activates all their features, and each of their features is a separate script which is going to add extra load to your site. So make sure you Deactivate the ones you won’t need. I usually keep only 5 of them.

Publicise, Enhanced Distribution, Site Stats, Protect, Manage (because I use WordPress app to manage my WordPress sites)

* You can keep the features as per your requirements.

Not only jetpack, take a look at other plugins you use, there are plugins for things that can be done by adding a single line of code to the WordPress themes, so, get rid of such Plugins.

For your convenience, here is a list of Essential plugins that should be installed in every WordPress site.

3. Choose Minimal Layout for your Site

Okay, now that you have understood what Themes and Plugins can do to a load of your site, you should also be aware what a site layout can do to the loading speed of your site.

It’s a simple thing to understand that, the bigger the page, the longer it will take to load. If you think of putting too much on a single post, it’s going to take a while for it to get loaded.

My suggestion to you, and many others is, keep it minimal. It has one another benefit.

Think multi-screen. Today, more than 50% of the users are coming from Mobile devices, and you have very less space to showcase your content, everything is shown to them in a single column. The sidebar goes to the extreme bottom, so, if you think of keeping a lot of stuff at the end of your post in a desktop version of your site, it is going to push the sidebar even lower at the bottom.

The clever thing would be to keep fewer things, or just keep 3 to 4 related posts (links or links+thumbnails), share su_buttons and nothing else.

Same goes for the sidebar. Keep less stuff. Most blogs these days don;t even have a sidebar. So, keep it if it’s really important.

4. Choose A Better Hosting for your Site

Now moving to the part which would require you to invest some money. When I started blogging in 2007, I started with a Free hosting, most of the time my blog used to be down. Paying $9.95 for an unlimited shared hosting account on HostGator wasn’t a big deal, but the there mindset was different, which, fortunately, changed soon after that.

I now pay over $100 for hosting all my sites on different hosts, depending on how much traffic they get.

I still use Shared hosting, but one of my high traffic sites is on Digital Ocean. And I move a site from shared hosting once it started getting huge traffic.

I’ve tried a couple of shared hosting but found Hostgator and the Bluehost are the best ones. Also, they are the most popular ones with a lot of happy customers, including me.

So, get a better host. See the comparison between Hostgator and Bluehost and choose the most suitable for your need.

5. Setup WP Total Cache Plugin on Your WordPress Site

Now we move towards the advanced side of optimising a WordPress site, there two most popular caching plugins, WP Super Cache, and WP Total Cache. I am more inclined towards WP Total Cache because I have been using this one for a long time.

I did try the other plugin, WP Super Cache, but it created some problems with one of my hosts, so I tried WP Total Cache and decided to go with it for all my blogs.

What a Cache plugin does is, it caches all the static files of a site, so that when the user browses another page (within a certain period of time, like 1 day or a week) all the static files will be rendered from the cache stored in the browser, making the site load faster (as there are fewer files to load).

In WordPress, when you visit another page, just the content area changes, the Header, Sidebar, Footer, etc remains the same. Using a Cache plugins can help you serve only the content area of another page.

You can check out the post to get help on Installation of WP Total Cache.

6. Setup CloudFlare for Your WordPress Site (Optional)

If your site gets visitors from all over the World, you might want to take a look at this step as well.

Since you choose a hosting service to host your WordPress site, you get servers that are located at once place, and whoever types your site URL in their browser, the request is made to the location of the server.

Which then sends your site data (text, images, CSS, js, etc of your site) to the user. Now, if your servers are set up in the USA and your visitor is accessing your site from India, it has to be some good amount of travelling between the server and the user.

Cloudflare is a company that has servers set up in many locations and when you set up your site with CloudFlare, they save states files of your site in different servers and send your site data from servers located nearest to the users, making it less travel time to and pro. End result? A fast loading site.

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