Lately, I have been experimenting with improving my WordPress page speed. If you want to go faster, this is how.
- Find a fast hosting provider. I am using GreenGeeks but I am exploring the possibility of using Rocket.net since it has some great reviews. This is the most important point. You want your FTTB (first time to byte) to be as low as possible. On average I have 100ms FTTB with GreenGeeks but Rocket claims to have sub 100ms FTTB. It may seem small but small things become large when added up. Google says anything up to 600ms for FTTB is acceptable. Switching between hosting providers is super easy. They often migrate the site for you for free.
- Use an advanced caching plugin/service. I bought WP Rocket and it slightly improved my score by default. I had to read and study some online troubleshooting to find the exact settings for my setup. I used GTMetrix, made a change, and then kept testing to see if I slowed down or speed up. Also, you need to use Redis or Redis Pro and a CDN. Don’t worry if you don’t understand all of this at the moment, just trust me you need it.
- Your CDN should be Cloudflare since it is the biggest, but if you don’t have any CDN now anything will help you. Eventually, you might want to try other CDNS and when you do Cloudflare is my recommendation. I like how it protects you from hackers, and gives you helpful marketing information as well. I currently don’t use CDN because I am not making any money from this site, but like I said, if I do make any money from ads, a CDN is the first thing I will get.
- Don’t use shared hosting. You can’t make shared hosting as fast as possible. I am currently using shared hosting, but again like above if I make money that will change.
- Think about your end goal. Currently, this site loads in less than a second on average. It is a simple site but these steps will help any site you have. I am working on fractions of a second in these suggestions, but it is more intellectual curiosity than anything else. Just how much can you optimize something? I have optimized this site for years, and still find ways to make it go faster.
- Don’t use plugins that are known to be slow. If you do the research on optimizing WordPress there are many lists of plugins that are known to be slow. There are always plugins that are fast, it just takes a little bit of testing to find them. I have had to disable plugins that slowed my site down. I currently have 12 plugins, but I know that some sites have more than 30. You can still get an A on GTMetrix with 30 plugins, but each plugin you have will slow down your site by .10ms. Keeping your plugin list as few as possible is a very important way to keep things fast.
- Don’t use plugins that are not currently updated. Things change quickly with WordPress. An out-of-date plugin will get attacked and be both a security risk and a performance issue. I don’t use plugins that aren’t updated.
- Make sure that you are using the latest version of PHP. Between versions, PHP performance can improve as much as 40% faster. It makes a huge difference to check on a regular basis at least every six months that you have the newest version of PHP selected in your CPanel. If this doesn’t make sense to you, call your hosting provider and ask them to set it to the latest version of PHP and then test your site. Rarely does upgrading PHP cause problems, and it usually only causes problems for plugins that aren’t updated.
- Don’t overwhelm a page with junk just because you can add something to it. You can overwhelm end devices by putting too many pictures, videos, and interactive elements. Have a business reason for everything that you add to a page. Also don’t display more than 10 posts per page. I had been showing 15 posts on my homepage but when I moved it down to 9 since I have a 3×3 grid, it speed up my page by .20ms.
- Use websites like DebugBear to simulate the experience for smartphone users. It shows you that your design choices often cause big problems for those with smartphones. Since many people access websites through smartphones now, Google penalizes websites that are slow in search results and don’t work with smartphones well. If your page takes forever to load on a smartphone, they won’t come back to it.
I think WordPress is so interesting in how it works and all of the amazing things it can do. I once had a coworker ask me to work with her to help her migrate a client’s website because she liked how fast my site was at the time. I helped her and the client was happy and I learned new things. We always help ourselves when we help others.