The free, open-source software WordPress is one of the most popular blogging publishing systems online. If you maintain a blog or webpage, the chances are good that it runs on WordPress architecture. Not all WordPress installations are created equal, however. Some pages can be much slower than others, to the detriment of your users. For every extra second your webpages take to load, you are losing out on clicks and revenue. Fortunately, with a few tweaks, WordPress optimization can help your site pick up speed, and visitors, clients and customers with it.
The first step to achieving a lightning-fast site is choosing the right host. Shared hosting, in which your site is one of many on a single web server, is often the cheapest option, as it spreads the cost of the server among all its customers. However, you get what you paid for. While shared hosting can support smaller, low-traffic sites, too many hits on any one of the hosted sites will throttle the entire system, slowing your site and the others to a crawl.
For any high-traffic site, dedicated hosting, in which your site is the only one on the server, is essential. Though more expensive, it will keep your bandwidth running open and fast. In the case of medium-sized sites, limited shared hosting may be acceptable, but research webhosts carefully. Read reviews and test the speeds of other sites on the service before signing up.
Another crucial aspect of WordPress optimization is caching. In the basic system, every time a visitor loads a page, the backend code pulls from the database to build the HTML, which the user’s browser then loads and displays. Caching significantly shortens this procedure by saving an already-built copy of the HTML or parts of it, so the server doesn’t need to process it completely every time a page is opened. Instead, when a user visits a previously cached page, their browser can immediately download the HTML, without waiting for the server to produce it. A number of reliable caching plugins are offered for the WordPress software.
Content Delivery Networks are an increasingly popular way to manage WordPress optimization. A CDN is a networked server with multiple locations nation- or world-wide, which hosts various static files from your site, including:
The CDN serves these files to visitors from the nearest available servers. Rather than crossing the country, the files are retrieved from closer locations, shaving milliseconds or more off of every download. WordPress plugins that can handle CDN are available, in addition to third-party services.
As images are often some of the larger files on a site, compressing them to reduce their file size, and thus improve their download speed, will make any site load faster. While you can use online or freeware image adjusters, the most efficient solution is to install a WordPress optimization plugin to automatically resize your images as they’re uploaded.
By choosing the right host and CDN to improve bandwidth, and using caching, compression and minification to make smaller, quicker to download files, you can speed up any site. With these and other WordPress optimization techniques, every visitor to your site will see what you want them to, without having to wait.