Your WordPress site probably started out nice and quick. But over time, it can slow down.
A slow web site is not only frustrating for you and your visitors, it can actually cost you lost revenue if they leave. It can also affect your Google ranking, because Google prefers fast-loading sites.
Slow site loading can be caused by a lot of different factors, and there is plenty that can be done about it.
Quite often, the solution is to change to a faster (i.e. more expensive) web hosting package, or to a different web hosting company. But unless some general housekeeping is done, it will still not be as fast as it could be.
So why not get the housekeeping done, and then see if there is still a speed problem before deciding if you need to change hosts?
Web Site Speed Testing
The first step is to determine whether your site is actually slow. You might be experiencing a slow web site because your own internet connection is slow, and not your site. So it is a good idea to get a “second opinion” to see whether your site is actually slow.
There are two great resources for this, provided by Google and Yahoo respectively. Google has it’s Speed Test, and Yahoo’s version is called YSlow.
The site http://gtmetrix.com has both of these in one handy, free, tool. By putting your web site’s URL into this, you will get a report back very quickly (we hope!) telling you how your site rates on both the Google and Yahoo tests.
Armed with this knowledge, if you believe your site is still slow, we recommend you follow our earlier suggestions for speeding up your site. Or, if you prefer, scroll down to the bottom of this page and we can do this for you.
That page of suggestions doesn’t cover ALL the WordPress speed factors from the gtmetrix tests. It is recommended you click on the links within the gtmetrix tests to find out more about the worst offenders (those at the top). And seek professional help (e.g. from us) if you need it.
Other Factors Affecting WordPress Speed
There are other things that can slow down your site that aren’t immediately obvious from the Google and Yahoo tests.
Are you getting plenty of traffic, but not so many sales or enquiries? It is possible that a lot of those visitors aren’t actually real people, but are in fact computer programs trying to gather information from your site, possibly trying to hack into it. You can keep an eye on your visitor statistics from within cPanel, or using Google Analytics.
Every time someone, whether a program or a real person, comes to your web site, they slow it down. The server computer that your web site is stored on (your web host) needs to spend processing time to gather together the information to show to that visitor. If there are several visitors there (or on other web sites on the same server at your web host), that means it takes longer for your information to be collected, even for a real human visitor.
This might result in a real human visitor leaving in frustration. To get around this, I recommend the free plugin IQ Block Country. With this, you can block access to your web site to visitors from a wide range of countries (do you REALLY need your site to be seen everywhere?).
Using something like this that reduces the load on the server can also help to improve WordPress admin speed.
Whether you pronounce it “caysh” or “cash” (I say “caysh”), a cache is a way of storing a copy of the content of your pages.
Every time someone comes to one of your web pages, a series of programs needs to gather together what it needs to build that page. It will need to read information from a database, collect images and possibly re-size them, gather font information and so on. But what if you could get the program to do this just once, and store the finished page somewhere, so that the next person who comes along simply sees the stored, or cached, version of the page? That would be much quicker.
Another form of caching is provided by Cloudflare. With this system, a copy of each of your pages is actually held on the Cloudflare servers, rather than on your hosting. You (or whoever set up your web site) need to make some changes so that when someone visits your web site they are shown the Cloudflare content rather than actually visiting your site. Cloudflare is excellent for sites that don’t have frequent content changes. But it can get a bit messy with sites like forums or shopping cart sites, where visitors effectively change content on the site through their interactions with it. Cloudflare is a CDN (Content Delivery Network) – CDNs are highly recommended by YSlow.
Another thing that can make a difference to a web site’s speed is the way the database is organised.
The database is where the information for your web site is stored. Things like all the words for your site, as well as log in information, and information about how the web site is laid out, is all stored on the database.
Whenever you make a change in admin, you are probably making a change to the database. And because of the way WordPress is set up, it likes to keep all the old information, not just over-writing what was already there.
This means that over time, the database can get quite big. But if you don’t need all that historical information, like post revisions, it can be deleted and the size of the database is reduced.
Another thing is that the database can become overloaded with organisation information. Whenever something is added or changed on the database, there are indexes (that you don’t see) that record where the information is stored. These indexes can get rather complex after a while, and need to be cleaned up.
My favourite database cleanup plugin is WP Clean Up. This will allow you to remove unwanted content, as well as optimise (re-organise) the database. (Be careful of using it to delete Drafts – these might be things you have written that you haven’t published yet but actually want to keep).
Once your database has been cleaned of excess data, and optimised, WordPress will be able to retrieve the information it needs much faster. This will mean your pages load more quickly, and you should also see an improvement in admin speed.
Do You Want Us To Improve Your WordPress Speed?
OK, so you have read this far, or maybe you jumped to here 😉 Would you like us to do this for you?
First, please go to gtmetrix.com and test your site’s speed. If you have a C grade or worse on either the Speed Test or the YSlow test, we can probably help you. We can nearly always get a site to a B grade or better on both tests. And if we can’t, you get a refund!
We offer a “Speed Up My WordPress Site” service, with an optional “Keep My WordPress Site Fast” service.
When we speed up your site, we will first take a backup of your site (we will install a backup plugin and leave it there, so that your site can get regular backups). Then we will do the gtmetrix tests and give you a report (if you want it) of what we are about to do to speed things up.
Since there are so many things that can be done to speed up a WordPress site, it is hard to give a list here of what we will do. But it will not necessarily include moving your site to other hosting. If the gtmetrix tests recommend you get a CDN, we will look at whether Cloudflare will work with your hosting – if not, and you still want it, we will help you get that set up with your web hosting company (but you will need to pay them some $).
Once your site is nice and quick, we will do another gtmetrix test and give you a report. If we haven’t achieved at least a B grade in both Google Speed Test and YSlow, you may request a refund. And if the speed gets worse (it never has), we will go back to that backup we took at the start.
Once your site is humming along nicely, you will want to keep it fast. For just $AU50 a month, we will add your site to our gtmetrix monitoring account, to keep an eye on it. If it drops below a B grade on either test, we will be in there tweaking to get it up to at least a B again. In addition, we will set up regular backups If the time comes when you do need to move to a faster hosting plan or company, we will help you do that if you need it.
There is no sign up page for the maintenance plan, as it is only available to those for whom we have done the speed-up service. Payment will be via PayPal subscription.
Now, let’s start by getting some details…