WP Site Speed Optimization Guide – Part 1
In this series of WordPress speed optimization guide, I have covered almost all the WP speed optimization tips and tricks practiced by WordPress speed optimizers to speed up WP sites. The entire WP site speed optimization guide comes is a series of four posts which are released one after the other in a sequence. I have tried my best to simplify this WP speed optimization tutorial as much as possible. Even a novice user with some basic operational WordPress knowledge and WP skills can follow the step-by-step procedure mentioned in this WP speed guide to optimize WP sites with an objective to improve page load time as well as page load speed. Apart from including the basics of optimizing WordPress site speed, I have also covered some advanced website speed optimization tips and tricks spread over the entire series of this speed optimization guide.
The tutorial starts right from the beginning of taking site backup and covers all the steps required to speed up WordPress sites as you walk through the entire tutorial. You are advised to go through this WordPress speed optimization guide in a step-by-step procedure rather than jumping from one section to the other randomly. Following the speed optimization instructions, you can easily optimize your WordPress site for speed without facing any trouble anywhere.
1Take WordPress Site Backup before WP Speed Optimization
Backups are the security points created to restore websites, in case, if anything breaks your site abruptly. Following the same philosophy of securing our website against any untoward incident leaving our site non-operational, it is good to take an entire backup of your WordPress website before committing any changes into it.
Taking a backup of your entire WP site means taking a backup of complete set of site files as well as Database. You can use some WP backup plugins or third party services for backup, but personally, I prefer backing up sites with the old school method. Conventional site backup method is quite secure as well as reliable.
Although, you can use WP Clone to back up small WordPress sites with an install of less than 50 MB. The procedure of taking backup of WP sites hosted on WP Engine and taking backup of WP sites hosted on other web hosts is quite different. Due to this reason, I have covered both the case scenarios to take WordPress site backup before beginning our actual WP site optimization procedure.
1.1 How to take Site backup on WP Engine ?
Log in at https://my.wpengine.com/dashboard (Make sure to be on the correct install). Before moving ahead, check the URL on your web browser as it will look something like https://my.wpengine.com/installs/markdescande, “markdescande” replaced with your WP install name. Follow the below mentioned steps to complete the backup on WP Engine.
- On the left hand side, you will see a tab: Backup Points – Click it.
- Click Backup.
- In Description, write something that is self explanatory, something like “full backup before image tweaking”.
- Send notification – Ensure to type your valid email address.
- Click : Create Backup.
- Check your mailbox to confirm that you received an email from WP Engine stating that the backup has been successfully completed.
1.2 How to take WordPress Site Backup using Conventional Backup method ?
Conventional backup method works with almost all the web host service providers. Old school method is more of a manual WP backup method. By following the below mentioned steps, you can easily create a complete back for your WP site. The entire backup process is divided into two parts: site files backup and DB backup.
1.2.1 Site Files Backup
Download a copy of .htaccess, wp-config.php and the entire wp-content directory to your local machine by either using cPanel or your FTP account.
1.2.2 DB Backup
You need to access PHP My Admin from cPanel of your web host account login for taking a complete Database backup of your WP site.
- Log in to PHP My Admin.
- Click on the DB name to select the Database for which the backup has to be taken.
- Click Export.
- Click Custom – Display all possible options.
- Look for tab “Compression : Gzip”.
- Move to the bottom and click Go.
- Wait for the DB to download.
It may take some time to download the entire database, but if you believe that it is taking too much time then you can request your web host to take a DB backup of your site.
The above traditional backup method will help you create a local backup of all your important files on your computer. The backup of these local files can be used to restore your WordPress install to the state at which the backup was taken, inc case of anything going wrong during WP site speed optimization.
2Control Comment Spam to Enjoy Fast WordPress Sites
While comments are good for any site in general, spam/junk comments are equally bad for good health of a site. Junk comments not only hamper your WP site SEO, but it also reduces its page load time by adding extra overheads to the Database. In order to curb with the menace of junk comments, you should remove all the comments from the spam queue as well as implement some spam comment prevention techniques.
For controlling as well as curing your spam comments queue, you can use two spam comment WordPress plugins simultaneously.
2.1Use Akismet Plugin to Remove Comment Spam
Akismet plugin is an effective anti-spam plugin quite capable of monitoring your site against spam comments and also takes appropriate action according to the configuration made into it. In general, WordPress sites are quite prone to attract lots of spam comments and if you don’t take care of these spam comments then these comments will fill your DB with junk comments. It will slow down you website by increasing its load time. Akismet is an anti-spam plugin to say Goodbye to Comment Spam.
2.1.1 How to install Akismet Plugin for WordPress ?
- Click Plugins in WP Dashboard.
- Click Add New.
- Type Akismet in search text box and click search plugins.
- Click Activate.
- Follow the screen prompts to generate a key for activating the plugin on your WP site.
2.1.2 How to tweak Akismet for Maximum Anti-spam Protection ?
- Click on Settings → Akismet in your WordPress Dashboard.
- Tick the box – “Always put spam in the Spam folder for review.”
- Leave the default values for rest of the settings.
- Click Save.
2.2Install Stop Comment Spam WP Plugin to Fight Against Junk Comments
Stop Spam Comments by Pino Ceniccola is a light weight anti-spambot WP plugin. It is one of the simplest but effective WordPress plugins which works without any configuration setup. Moreover, it does not generates any database queries, thus making it lightweight and simple to use. The plugin is purely invisible by design and does not requires any user interaction either in term of questions or captcha. I like the plugin because it does not loads the server because of its presence on WP install. It works well in conjunction with Akismet and helps it fight WP spam comments.
You can activate Stop Spam Comments in three simple steps.
- Click Plugins → Add New.
- Search Stop Spam Comments by Pino Ceniccola.
Once you have installed Akismet as well Stop spam comments, check your junk comments queue to curate the existing spam comments.
- Click Comments → All Comments.
- Go through all the comments page by page and mark them Spam.
- Delete all spam comments.
Removal of spam comments will clean your DB against useless spam comments to make your site faster by increasing its load speed.
3Get a Dedicated WordPress Hosting Platform for Site Speed Optimization
The power provided by your web host infrastructure carries the master key for improving site performance by increasing site load speed and reducing site load time. Selecting a good WordPress hosting environment is the first and the most important step. Dedicated WordPress hosting platforms such as WP Engine are specially designed to host WordPress sites.
WP Engine incorporates many caching and other site speed mechanisms at the root of the host infrastructure, thus making it more effective for site speed optimization. Moreover, the site also gets free from external plugins load on the server, although WP Engine comes at a good price. For site owners looking for an inexpensive web hosting services, WPMU hosting is a great choice. The choice between the two is more about balancing your budget against the expected performance.
4Update WordPress Core, WP Themes and WP Plugins to Latest Version
Core WordPress install, WordPress themes and WordPress plugins are continuously updated with the new releases. Every new release comes with improvements, bug fixes, better efficiency and security updates. With the release of WordPress 3.7 “Basie”, all the security and maintenance updates are triggered automatically without requiring any human intervention. Now, the automatic update feature is applicable to all future WordPress releases. Although, for control freaks, there are ways to disable automatic updates, but I never recommended it.
Leaving your WP site running on the older versions may have an impact on your site load speed. It is highly recommended to keep your entire WordPress install updated to the latest version, whether it is WP core, WP Themes or WP plugins. Sometimes, updating to the latest version is a real pain but taking a site backup before updating the site is a good way to save. It helps you restore your site from breaking down due to any non-compatible update applied to your WP site or even due to any other reason.
In a nutshell, you should keep an eye on
- WordPress Core
- WordPress Themes
- WordPress Plugins
4.1What is WordPress Core Update ?
WordPress core is the foundation and the root framework for all WP sites. It is important for you to ensure that you have the latest version of WordPress.
4.2What is WordPress Themes Update ?
Keeping your WordPress Theme to its latest version is also quite phenomenal for WP site speed optimization. Sometimes, specially when your site is powered by third party premium Theme developers, it might not be easy to know whether your site is running on the latest theme version or not.
You can use WPThemeDetector to check whether your site is having the latest version of the installed theme. You only need to submit your site URL at the tool and it displays the information about your theme’s latest version, also whether your site is having the latest version or not.
It is also important to delete any WP Theme from your WP install which you are not using. It is a good WP site speed optimization practice to keep only WP Theme that you are using for your site. Delete all the other themes without any hesitation.
4.3What is WordPress Plugins Update ?
Quite similar to the concept of updating WP Themes is the concept of updating WP plugins. You should keep the latest versions of all the WordPress plugins installed in your WP install. It is also quite important to delete all those WordPress plugins which you are not using on your site, rather you just installed them.
5Clean WP Install Against Junk Files
Check your WP install for the presence of junk files/folders and if found, delete it one by one. Once you are through with the WordPress core update, WP Theme update as well as WP Plugins update to the latest version, ensure that none of the files/folders look out of place. The following three folders should be scanned to find the presence of unwanted content.
- On FTP, go to /Home public_html (WordPress)
- Go to /wp-includes (WordPress)
- Go to /wp-content (WordPress + All images + Plugins + Themes)
Folder /wp-content is almost the heart of WordPress and you will find most of the junk files being accumulated in this folder. A good blueprint would be to have a look at the following subfolders of /wp-content.
Most of the time, you will find junk files lying useless in these folders. These junk files also add to the server load, resulting in slowing down the website.
It is quite complex to spot the junk files, but you can follow some simple steps to cure your WP install from such files/folders. In order to clean the entire junk folders, you can follow some simple and easy steps
- Rename the suspicious folders to a new name. For example, a folder images can be renamed as images_old.
- Pull the site.
- Check the entire site that everything is working.
- If everything on the site is working perfectly, delete the renamed folder.
As an alternative, you can also download the folder to your local computer rather than renaming it. If you want to only clean certain files within a folder then it is highly recommended to delete the suspicious files one by one.
Before deleting a file, download the files which you are planning to delete or rename it. Delete the file one by one and check whether the site is working even after the deletion of the suspicious files. If the site is working even after the deletion of a file, it means the file was junk.
Although, if you accidentally delete an active file and notice the site showing some abnormal behaviour then you can easily upload the deleted file from your local computer. If you have renamed the file, you can restore the original name. It will restore your site back to normal bbehavior
You can now proceed to WordPress Speed Optimization Guide – Part 2 to go through the next steps.
Post Editor : Ashutosh Kasera