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WordPress may be a stunning easy-to-use and powerful piece of content management software but it’s not without it’s weaknesses. One of the main problems that WordPress users experience after a period of time is their site starts to slow down.
There are a number of reasons that this can happen including numerous large media files (images, videos, podcasts etc.), database errors and thousands of spam comments taking up vital space on your server.
Whatever the cause, the fact is that a slow WordPress site creates a really bad experience for your visitors. Why would anyone want to spend time exploring all your carefully-created content if every time they click a link your site takes forever to load. Not surprisingly these visitors aren’t very likely to come back for another visit any time soon.
There are other problems. You’re probably not just creating content for the fun of it; you’re hoping that your visitors take some kind of action such as clicking an advert, visiting your affiliate links, subscribing to your mailing list or buying a product from you. However all of these become far less likely when your site is slow. Indeed, your visitors may have already clicked the “back” button before your adverts even have time to load.
And lastly there’s the “Google factor” – namely that many of the major search engines now regard your site speed as an important ranking factor. In other words fast-loading sites find it easier to rank highly for their chosen keywords than sites that are slower loading.
It’s clear therefore that in this day and age it’s essential that your site loads quickly if you’re serious about achieving some serious results from your site. But what easy solutions are there that will help any WordPress installation to load quicker?
Plugin Performance Profiler –
If you’re anything like me then you love all the various opportunities that WordPress plugins have to add useful new features to your site. Sadly, however, these plugins can have a nasty habit of slowing down your site and in extreme cases they can make your site virtually impossible to enjoy.
Fortunately GoDaddy have a free plugin that will actually look around your site just like a visitor would and will measure how much your site speed is being impacted by the various plugins you have installed.
Even better, Plugin Performance Profiler (or P3 for short) doesn’t just give you an overall figure; it will even break down the load time by individual plugins so you can quickly spot those that are causing the greatest strain on your server.
From this information it’s simplicity itself to uninstall the worst offenders and then go looking for a faster alternative (if you even need that specific plugin at all).
W3 Total Cache –
As someone navigates around your site there are certain aspects that they’ll see again and again. Examples might be your logo or the navigation bar which are the same on every page. In these cases you can speed up your site by ensuring that these areas aren’t reloaded from scratch every time but are infact rendered from a cache.
There are a number of popular caching plugins available but I have personally found that W3 Total Cache has the greatest impact on my site speed having tested it across numerous sites in the last few years.
WP Optimize –
Spam comments that you forgot to delete. Categories you set up but have never used. Post revisions that you made while creating new content. All of these things can sit, hidden, in your WordPress database and can slow down the speed of your site.
Actually finding and deleting this “unwanted balast” isn’t easy unless you’re a MySQL database expert (which I’m not) but fortunately WP Optimize can do all the hard work for you.
This plugin will analyze your database for you and provide guidance on what can be done to speed up your site. All you need to do is to select the improvements you’d like to make and then the plugin goes out and cleans your database of all the unwanted junk it’s been storing. The impact on site speed can be surprising.
WP Smush It –
One final tip for making your WordPress site run faster is to optimize your images. Yahoo has designed a special piece of technology that will reduce the file size of your images without compromising on their quality. In other words they’ll look exactly the same to your website visitors but they’ll load more quickly as they’re now smaller files.
Sadly running all your images through their service one at a time can be a long and boring process. Instead, use WP Smush It to automatically “smush” all of your images in one go simply by clicking a button.
About the Author
Mike is a passionate blogger and shares his latest discoveries about website security at www.AboutCloudStorage.com
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