Almost all businesses today usually have their own website to mark their online presence. While different businesses have different types of websites and strategies in place to increase sales, they all would like a faster loading website.
An optimized website is beneficial for many reasons. The website owners save on several costs related to hosting and the visitors save valuable time. Happy customers are more likely to increase your sales.
In this tutorial, I’m going to give you my top 10 easy-to-follow tips for optimizing your WordPress website.
1. Choose a good hosting provider
None of the other tips in this post will be of any significant help if you don’t have a good hosting provider. An underpowered server will make all our other efforts useless.
You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on your website when you’re just starting out. However, you should talk to your hosting provider to inquire about details like processor used in the server, RAM provided in your hosting plan, type of storage used etc.
If you are just starting out and are on a budget, you don’t have to go with dedicated hosting. A shared hosting plan can also work as long as the hosting provider doesn’t list too many websites on the same server. Another problem could be that some other website on the server will be competing for shared resources.
You can consider using dedicated hosting if you have the budget and want to make sure that unrelated websites don’t affect your performance.
When looking for a WordPress host, I usually ask if the hosting provider also supports LiteSpeed caching.
2. Use a good caching plugin
You probably already know that WordPress generates pages for visitors dynamically based on the requested URL. However, there’s a good chance that the content of some of these pages will remain the same. Caching such pages can result in significant performance improvements.
There are many good caching plugins, but the one I like best is LiteSpeed Cache. This plugin does many things for you that the regular plugin doesn’t. This is especially true if you’re on a web host that supports LiteSpeed caching.
Tight integration of the server-side LiteSpeed software with the LiteSpeed WordPress caching plugin will squeeze out every bit of performance. In addition to general caching of public pages, this plugin also supports private caching for logged in users. It can also use a crawler to cache pages even before the first user reaches that page.
You can also purge the cache of any page simply by using a set of rules. It is also possible for people to exclude some pages from the caching mechanism.
3. Update your plugins, themes and WordPress Core
Anyone who uses WordPress installs themes on their website to make it look a certain way and uses plugins to provide additional functionality.
The developers of these themes and plugins release regular updates for a variety of reasons, including integrating new features, fixing vulnerabilities, and improving performance. You can check the changelog regularly to see what things have changed since the last released version. Such changes sometimes include a mention of improved performance with some operations taking less time to complete.
Not all theme and plugin developers prioritize performance. Therefore, it is also essential to read customer reviews before deciding to use a theme or plugin on your website.
Likewise, any new update to WordPress core can also give your website a significant performance boost as developers update the code that works behind the scenes to generate your web page.
4. Reduce the number of plugins
Installing a large number of plugins and themes on your WordPress website can lead to performance degradation. You should consider removing inactive themes from your website and check if all the plugins you have installed are actually needed.
Typically, you install a plugin to get specific functionality you wanted to control but then stop using it later. In these cases, it is important to periodically check all installed plugins and see if you are still actively using them on your website.
It’s also important to check if there’s a better plugin available to install now in the WordPress directory than the ones you’re using. New plugins are added to the directory all the time, and checking regularly ensures you’re always using the best ones.
5. Optimize your WordPress database
As you already know, WordPress stores all its data related to your website in a database. The tables in this database can get cluttered with useless data after some time. Some of this data won’t actually be needed to run your website, so you can get rid of it without affecting your website.
You have to be careful about the data you remove from the database. This means that it’s a good idea to back up your website before attempting to clean up the database yourself. A safer option would be to use a plugin. Most plugins will remove things like spam or trashed comments, trashed posts, post revisions etc.
Some plugins like LiteSpeed Cache will also offer the ability to optimize the tables in the database.
6. Update your PHP version
Did you know that WordPress uses PHP and MySQL behind the scenes to dynamically generate its web pages?
PHP updates work just like plugin updates that fix vulnerabilities and improve performance. Basically, each new version of PHP will add new features to the language and improve the existing code base to make everything faster.
A faster PHP version means a faster WordPress core and faster plugins. You can check the PHP version installed on your web host directly from the admin area of your WordPress website. First, log into your WordPress website’s admin dashboard. Now go to Tools > Site Status and then switch to Information form. Scroll down a bit and you’ll see a section that provides information related to server configuration. Here is a screenshot of the information for my website.
It’s also important to make sure that the PHP version you’re using is compatible with all installed plugins and themes. Otherwise, your website will stop working.
7. Offer optimized images to users
Images make up the majority of page weight on most websites. Offering optimized images to your users can significantly reduce the amount of data they need to download when they visit a web page. There are two main ways you can offer optimized images to users.
First, resize your images so they are a more appropriate size. Serving an image with dimensions 1920*1080 on a mobile device does not benefit anyone. All of your images should be sized appropriately for the device they will be viewed on.
Secondly, compress your images to reduce their size without significantly reducing the quality. Using the correct image format is important here. In some cases, you will get a smaller image size with .png file while in other cases .jpeg files will be smaller in size. You could also use .webp images that usually have the smallest size of all.
The LiteSpeed caching plugin I mentioned earlier also includes settings for optimizing images. You can find all these options by navigating to LiteSpeed Cache > Image Optimization > Image Optimization Settings. The plugin will take care of many things for you, such as image compression and delivery of .webp pictures if applicable.
9. Lazy Upload your images
Even after you’ve compressed and resized your images, it’s still possible to optimize image delivery by lazily uploading them. Let’s say someone visiting your website doesn’t scroll past the top of the web page. Any images that are outside the viewport will still be downloaded by the browser. This results in wasted bandwidth for you and your visitors.
There are many plugins that will give you the ability to lazy load images without having to write any code. You can also lazily load other assets like iframes to further improve website performance.
10. Use a CDN to provision resources
Using a CDN to deliver your website assets can give your website load times a big boost. This is because the time it takes to load a web page also depends on the distance between the website server and the user.
Some CDN providers like Cloudflare also provide basic CDN functionality for free. The LiteSpeed plugin I mentioned earlier also has its own QUIC.cloud CDN to serve resources and make your website faster.
In this tutorial, we have learned 10 different tips that you can follow to optimize your WordPress website and get a performance boost. Basically it all boils down to using good hosting, keeping everything up to date like plugins, themes and the WordPress core. You can also optimize the delivery of images and other assets using good caching plugins and a CDN.