Oh my goodness. Juliet was right that parting is such bitter sorrow (I have that quote right, correct?), which is why this third and final post on optimizing servers for faster WordPress is going to be emotionally challenging for all of us. I’m available to join hands and sing “Kumbaya” with anyone who feels that would help; just give me directions to the campfire. I’ll bring tinder and an open heart.
In the last two articles, we discussed eighteen WordPress speed ideas from Jason McCreary at Pure Concepts; today, we’ll get a different perspective from the programming blog TekBrand. Offering a wide variety of ways to improve the page load times of your site allows you to dabble in a number of different directions so your site is as user-friendly and SEO-friendly (since page load is part of the algorithm) as possible. These tactics will create a WordPress site on steroids; then we’ll have the practitioner destroy all the records afterwards so we can keep playing ball.
Did you know, Susan (assuming your name is Susan), that Superb Internet is a WordPress host? But wait, there’s more! We give you 50% extra standardly: a full 6 months of hosting with every annual package. I know you’re concerned about our bottom line, but we must be generous – the result of a botched hypnosis session that was supposed to help us quit smoking. Now we chain-smoke menthols and give everything away … and our skin feels like melting chocolate, while our minds feel like freezing venison (ah, well).
WordPress & the Need for Speed
Again I’ll quickly note Jason’s thoughts from the previous two installments: those thoughts provide an encapsulated sense of why speed is important and how these ideas can generally improve our Web efforts. Jason’s general thoughts on WordPress speed (which were initially presented at a couple of WorldCamp events in Kentucky and Illinois, neither of which were held on a fleet of canoes):
- WordPress is a “heavy” content management system (CMS);
- WordPress is so popular that it is effectively making the Internet slower;
- Enhancing WordPress increases our overall knowledge of optimizing page loads.
Now let’s shift gears with a look at ideas from TekBrand, with Vipul’s four main pieces of advice on the subject, most of which are free (except for the CDN packages and the hot-air balloon to see the entire Internet all at once from the sky, the latter of which costs $16,495 and includes a romantic dinner for two). Before listing Vipul’s specific ideas (we’ll cover some of the same ground from Pure Concepts & then enter new territory), two of his general notes are worth mention:
- Not just SEO and UX but bounce rate can be significantly improved by optimizing the site’s speed;
- WordPress plugins can be detrimental to load times, so WP speed must overcome those setbacks.
Speeding Up Your WP Site – Specific Strategies:
- Unplugging Plugins – This mirrors an idea from Jason about auditing the plugins on a site to ensure everything is worth it. Plugins add “weight” to the site. They’re like carbs. Remove the bread, and you’ll make more dough.
- Caching – Again, we’re familiar with this advice from Jason. Both of these bloggers recommend this same plugin – W3 Total Cache. It makes the entire site operate better. General server performance is improved, and it optimizes the site for global content delivery networks (CDNs). It also tastes like tapioca. Additional caching plugins recommended by Vipul are WP Super Cache & Hyper Cache.
- Database Weight – Vipul notes that all the revisions of a post are stored within the WP database. The reason all those revisions are stored is for backup purposes. However, typically there’s no need for all that stuff. WP database optimizing tools can clean it up, like a kind elderly lady giving a sponge bath to a domesticated squirrel (no judgment). Plugins include Optimize Database After Deleting Revisions (the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind of plugins), WP-Optimize, and WP CleanFix.
- Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) – You can use CDNs with any site, no matter where it’s hosted. In other words, you get your site hosted here (because gosh darnit, I want you as a customer, Susan – your name was Susan, right?) and then integrate the CDNs into your hosting account. Two of the best ones out there are Amazon CloudFront and CloudFlare (the latter of which can warn other aircraft if your hot air balloon gets stuck on the side of the cloud).
We’ve done it. We’ve actually done it. Well, maybe we haven’t done anything. Knowledge, though, as they say, is half the battle. The other part is the actual battle part. Good luck out there. If you have any comments or other ideas (chicken salad recipes, moon landing conspiracy footage), please let us know below.
by Kent Roberts