Did you know the average internet user will only wait TWO SECONDS for a page to load? While that might seem unduly harsh, most of us know the pain of the buffering circle and few of us are willing to wait for our cat videos.
When I’m working with clients, one of the most common things I find myself saying is “It might be my computer or my connection but your site seems really slow. I’d suggest checking it on a few different devices and IPs and then, uh, edit accordingly.”
In case you can’t tell, “edit accordingly” means “I don’t really know how you can make your site faster but it’s definitely important maybe Google it?”
Enter: Anouska Rood. Anouska builds gorgeous, custom sites that help people grow their list, make more money, and find more freedom. So when she offered to tell you guys how to speed up your site I was all over it. Read on!
If you’re struggling with slow loading times for your website, follow these tips to boost your loading time. Faster loading will in turn decrease your bounce rate.
Even if you don’t currently struggle with this, you might want to look into it now and keep it at its best so it won’t become an issue for you later on. Doing so will also help minimize the size of your backups.
A clean WordPress installation has 11 tables, and sometimes plugins and themes create new tables to store the information they need. They can also store information in the existing tables.
Whether they store it in the existing tables or create new tables, this information might still be in the database even after you remove a plugin or switch themes. Another cause of database bloat are the revisions that are stored for every single post.
As your WordPress site grows, a lot of information is added to the database. It’s taking up valuable space, and it can also be a huge factor in slow loading times for your website.
6 ways to make your site faster
Back up your database
Before we go on to clean up your database, back it up! Make sure there’s a recent backup of your database. We will be deleting stuff you no longer need, but just in case you’re actually missing something after the clean-up, back up your database.
Remove unnecessary plugins
If you’re not using them or there are multiple plugins that do the same things, get rid of some! At best, they take up space; at worst they unnecessarily bloat your pages and slow your site down.
Turn off post revisions
If you’re the only one posting on your blog, chances are you don’t need the post revisions WordPress automatically creates. You can turn it off or limit the amount of revisions by adding one line of code to your wp-config.php file. (This is in the root folder of your site, or in the folder WordPress is installed in)
Turn off post revisions completely:
Limit post revisions (with 3 being whatever amount of revisions you want to keep) :
define( 'WP_POST_REVISIONS', 3 );
After disabling post revisions or setting the limit, you’ll still need to remove old revisions. I recommend doing so using the plugin WP-Optimize. It can clean up post revisions, spam comments, and lots of other extraneous information.
I know I just told you plugins can add stuff to your database, which can add up over time causing slow loading times for your site. It’s definitely possible to clean up your database without a plugin, if you know what you’re doing.
If you’re familiar with MySQL, you can go into the PHPMyAdmin tool for your hosting account, but if you’re not familiar with this I don’t recommend doing so as it’s very easy to make a mistake and lose data you actually needed to keep.
If you are concerned about this plugin taking up space, you can just run the plugin and delete it, then install it again when you need to do another cleaning. But it doesn’t take that much space and you can set it to automatically clean your database every once in a while, so you might want to keep it installed!
Before you first use it to clean your database, it can be fun to look at how large it actually is before cleaning and then again after cleaning. You can view it under ‘Tables’.
On the main ‘Optimizer’ view, it’s pretty straight-forward to clean up your database. Select the clean-up options you want, then click the Process button.
Don’t remove the unapproved comments if there might be any non-spam comments you haven’t approved yet!
Under ‘Settings’, you can set it to automatically clean your database every week, every other week or every month.
This plugin does not do the backup, so make sure you have scheduled backups running before you set a schedule for the database clean-up.
Optimize image sizes
WordPress automatically generates different sizes for all images you upload. If you (and your theme) don’t use these different sizes, it’s just a waste of space! Turn this off (or change the size of the thumbnails generated) in Settings > Media. To turn it off, just set everything to 0.
Upload images in the size you want to use them. Larger images have larger file size, so they take longer to load. Also, having browsers scale down images to the size you want just doesn’t provide the same image quality as you can achieve by scaling the image down in a photo editor before you upload it to your site.
If your site still loads slow, take a look at the results from YSlow and Google PageSpeed Insights, those also tell you what you can do to improve your pagespeed. Another common issue is when you’re using low-budget shared hosting, especially when these hosting providers offer unlimited bandwidth.
The problem with that is, there is no such thing as unlimited when it comes to the physical hardware needed to host your site. Being on a shared server means that other sites on the same server are also using the “unlimited” bandwidth. It could very well be that one of them is taking up a lot of bandwidth at a given time.
This could seriously slow down your website. You can do a lot to improve the speed of your site, but you can only improve it as much as is possible within the limits of your hosting.
Thanks so much for sharing, Anouska! Do you guys have any site-speed questions for her? Ask them in the comments!