2016 is almost at end and we are going to welcome 2017 in next few weeks. If you run a website on WordPress or planning to start one, here are few important points to speed up WordPress sites. These techniques will help you in getting more visitors and creating more conversion. Well, more visitors doesn’t mean more conversion as it depends on other conversion techniques, but the chances of more conversion will be strong.
Easy steps to speed up WordPress in 2017
#1 Upgrade to PHP 7
The last stable version of PHP was 5.6 and that is used on most of the servers as the default PHP installation. The latest version i.e. PHP 7 is more than 2X faster than PHP 5.6. There is no PHP 6 so there should not be any confusion. Developers of PHP did a great job with PHP 7 by improving the capability to handle double requests per second as compared to PHP 5.4.
How to Upgrade to PHP 7
First you need to check the current PHP version installed on your hosting server. To do that, open NotePad++ or any other code editor and add the following line in a new file. Save it as .php file and upload in the root directory of your hosting server.
<?php phpinfo(); ?>
Now open that file on browser. It will all the information about your server including PHP version too.
If you are not comfortable with the code editor and creation of .php file, you can use a plugin like WordPress phpinfo() to get the installed version.
If you find the PHP version as 5.6 or 5.5 or 5.4, you need to upgrade it to PHP 7.
How to Upgrade to PHP 7
If you are comfortable with cPanel operations, you can do that by following operations else you can ask you hosting provider to upgrade the PHP on your account.
To upgrade PHP, login into cPanel account of your hosting server. Find MultiPHP Manager on cPanel dashboard. Open the MultiPHP Manager and there you can see the installed PHP versions for your site. From PHP Version drop-down, select PHP 7.0 and click on Apply. Done!
#2 Install WP Fastest Cache Plugin
There are many WordPress caching plugin available on repository for free. We have found the best one for you which does its job really good. It compresses and minifies JS, CSS and HTML. It helps you improve the Google PageSpeed and YSlow scores and load pages really fast.
#3 Install Jetpack for Free CDN
Jetpack by WordPress.com comes with lot many functionalities including a free CDN named Photon. Enable the Photon feature from Jetpack settings and serve static files including images, JS and CSS from WordPress.com CDN which is free.
#4 Optimized Images
Well optimized images take less time to load. I have a practice of optimizing every image before uploading it. To do that, I use a free service named Kraken.io to reduce the image size by up to 60% without losing the quality. To do the same to your already uploaded images, you can use a free plugin named WP Smush to bulk optimize images.
#5 Lazy Loading of Images
If you use multiple images in your blog articles (which is a good practice), the page load time can increase because of the excess media files. To avoid such negative scenario, use lazy load technique where only visible images will load at start. Once the visitor starts scrolling the page, other images will load one by one. For Lazy Loading, there is a free WordPress plugin named a3 Lazy Load.
#6 Install AMP
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a way to deliver or load the pages fast on mobile devices with using less resources. Google search results even shows AMP tag beside the websites which are having AMP functionality ready. Install this plugin to make your site fast on mobile devices.
#7 Delete Revisions and Transient Memory
Database optimization is very important for speeding up a WordPress site. WordPress comes with auto draft of revisions for posts and that consumes a good amount of space in database. Revisions are important as it helps in case you like to retrieve the older content but having so many revisions for each post is not going to be used. Install the Database optimization plugins to improve performance of your site and speed up the same.
#8 Use Prefetch DNS Requests
Prefetching of DNS improves the load time of your site. If you are loading some files from external sources like CDN, Google API, Google Fonts etc. edit the header.php file your theme and add the DNS prefetch line for the same. For example, to add Google API as DNS prefetch, add the following line before in header.php file of your theme template.
<link rel="dns-prefetch" href="//fonts.googleapis.com/">
#9 Use SVG Icons rather than Font Icons
If you like to go for even faster load time, start using SVG Icons rather than Font Icons. SVG Icons are way better than Font Icons and this comparison result shows the same. You can find the way to create SVG Icons by yourself or you can pick this while selecting the best suitable WordPress theme for you.
#10 Heartbeat Control
WordPress introduced Heartbeat API in version 3.6 which allows browsers to communicate with server and show you some real-time notifications. Such as other authors are editing the post or taking control or auto-drafting the posts and so many things on dashboard. These calls utilizes so much resource on the server and may impact the same. If you are using shared server, these call may impact the performance. To take control of such API calls, install the plugin named Heartbeat Control and either disable the calls or delay it for large intervals.
These steps will improve your site’s speed significantly. If you are willing to invest a small amount for speed improvement, I would suggest to pick SSD drives on hosting server and get a good hosting service provider.
Well, with my 8 years of experience in website optimization and making a well optimized sites, I recommend Bluehost and Siteground. If you don’t want any trouble related to buggy WordPress plugin installation or security related tension, a complete tension free hosting option for WordPress users is WPEngine. It is a little pricey as compared to other suggestions, but it is worth.
I hope that the above information will help in building a well optimized, fast WordPress site in 2017. Stay tuned to read more optimization techniques and conversion steps.
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