Got a slow website? I know how frustrating it can be to open your website only to wait 3 minutes until it fully loads. If your website garners many daily visitors, I can only imagine the sheer panic you may feel when you open your website only to see that it’s not loading at all. “How many visitors am I losing this very moment?” you may wonder. Did you know that your website conversion rate decreases by a whopping 7% for every second your website loading speed is delayed?
There could be two reasons as to why your website is always painfully slow:
- Your website is using more resources than available (too much content)
- Your web hosting service is terrible
All is not lost, though. There are many different WordPress plugins and tricks to make your website faster without the need to remove content or switch web hosting services (only if it’s not too bad). Let us clue you in on 5 of them:
Created by Yahoo, this plugin comes in especially useful for image-based websites. It speeds up your website by optimizing images. The plugin does it in several different ways:
- Stripping meta data from JPEGs
- Optimizing JPEG compression
- Converting GIFs to indexed PNGs
- Stripping the unused colors from indexed images
Whenever you add an image to a page or post, Smush.it automatically optimizes it without you having to do anything. If you want a quick fix to your website’s slow speed, you can use the plugin to “smush” your existing images via your media library.
According to the developers of this excellent plugin, you can “improve the user experience for your readers without having to change WordPress, your theme, your plugins, or how you produce your content.” Definitely at the top of the list of WordPress plugins.
You know how sometimes you need to defragment your hard drive? Well, you need to do the same with your WordPress site. It’s because your database is constantly changing and you need to clean it up. WP Database Optimizer is an excellent plugin that automatically optimizes your database on a schedule. It clears all your deleted posts and plugins out of the database.
Using a content delivery network
A content delivery network is a system of servers with multiple data centers all over the Internet that pays ISPS, carriers, and network operators to host servers with them. The sole purpose of a content delivery network is to deliver content in the fastest way possible. This comes in especially useful if you have visitors from other countries. Did you know that someone in the U.K. usually has to wait longer for your website to load than if he had been in the U.S.A.? Because most reputable content delivery networks have servers in multiple countries, visitors from all over the world will be able to access your site much quicker.
MaxCDN is a great content delivery network to use.
Tweaking your .htaccess file
If you’re confident enough to take the matter into your own hands, you can try several different manual solutions, including tweaking your .htaccess file. To do this, you need to take the following steps:
Properly cache your content by inserting the following code into your .htaccess file:
ExpiresByType text/html “access plus 20 seconds”
ExpiresByType text/css “access plus 3 weeks”
ExpiresByType image/png “access plus 1 month”
This helps your server set decent rules for caching your content. Add an extra line for every file type you want to cache.
Compress some text files by inserting the following code into your .htaccess file:
# Compress some text file types
# Deactivate compression for buggy browsers
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4\.0 no-gzip
BrowserMatch \bMSIE !no-gzip !gzip-only-text/html
# Set header information for proxies
Header append Vary User-Agent
Feel free to tweak the code to suit your preferences. You can add more lines to compress more types of text files you want to compress. This code allows your server to decrease download time, reduce your bandwidth, and deliver content much faster.
Do you have any website performance-increasing tricks up your sleeve? If so, please share them with us!
Lead image via Ana Felix Garjan