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7 Easy Steps to Optimize WordPress

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Launching a WordPress site is only half the battle. You also have to give it the best possible shot to ensure its success, which includes making it better, faster, and more optimized.

If your website is slow, your visitors will turn away within seconds. You won’t rank anywhere in the SERPs (search engine results pages), suffer a considerable loss in your sales, lose goodwill, and end up losing your customers forever. 

Ouch!

What you should do is buckle up and take the first step to optimize your WordPress website.

Wondering how? We got you.

Why Optimizing Your WordPress Website Is Worth It?

Optimized websites are always worth the effort. It’s really that simple. Your content can reach thousands of people, bringing in more traffic, and a million other good things will happen.

A slow-loading website does the exact opposite.

  • Customers won’t have a good user experience on your website, which will discourage them from buying your products. The end result is decreased conversion rates.
  • People don’t like to wait, so you’ll see a huge drop in your overall traffic when you have a slow-loading website.
  • An unoptimized website creates a bad first impression. Your visitors will think you aren’t serious about managing the site and vanish in droves.
  • Search engines will refrain from displaying your content if you have a slow loading time. As such, your website won’t be ranking higher in the SERPs.

Would you want any of the above situations in your life? Absolutely not.

An optimized website means your website is on a par with your competitors, with an acceptable loading time. This will influence your ranking positively and increase spider crawling in search engines. It’s a win-win for you either way!

Your visitors want a fast and smooth-performing website, and it’s your job to live up to these expectations. After all, WordPress optimization is no longer an option but has become vital to your website’s success.

The Investment Needed to Optimize WordPress

You don’t have to be an expert to get the optimization process. Instead, what you need is to follow a few best practices.

“Okay, but how much time and money do I need to optimize my WordPress website?”

Typically, it takes an hour or two to get a WordPress site to around three seconds’ load time. But if you go beyond that, the total time can become much longer. 

The monetary investment can cost you anywhere between $50-$12,000 if you opt for page speed optimization services. The price depends on several features, including your website size and format and your service provider’s experience and service plan. 

You can, of course, choose to do everything by yourself as well. This way, you won’t have to pay anything from your pocket. 

In the end, your total investment will boil down to the best practices you choose to implement and whether you decide to do it by yourself or hire a professional.

Having covered the basics, let’s focus on the actual rundown of having an optimized website. Here’s what the whole process looks like:

  • Step 1: Choose a Reliable WordPress Hosting Service 
  • Step 2: Pick a Fast WordPress Theme and Monitor Your Plugins Carefully 
  • Step 3: Optimize All of Your Website Images
  • Step 4: Clean Your Trash
  • Step 5: Minify and Combine CSS and JavaScript Files
  • Step 6: Get the Caching Right
  • Step 7: Utilize a Content Delivery Network or CDN

The 7 Steps to Optimize WordPress Effectively

Finally, to the whole point of the article! 

Read on as we discuss the best way to optimize your WordPress website easily and effectively. 

Step 1: Choose a Reliable WordPress Hosting Service 

Not many people realize the importance of having the right hosting, which is the first step towards an unsuccessful website. 

Having a server that takes ages to process HTTP requests and MySQL commands can never set the base for a good website. At the same time, you don’t want to randomly change your hosting plan without knowing whether it’s right or wrong.

Test your website’s response time against your competitors by using services like GTMetrix. This will give you a fair idea about your standing. For instance, if you have a digital marketing website, you can compare your server response time to other digital marketing blogs within your niche.

Additionally, if you’re using a shared hosting plan, you may face slow loading times due to hundreds of websites being hosted on the same server. In such cases, we recommend upgrading to VPS hosting. Plus, any type of hosting plan can suffer from CPU throttling and insufficient RAM, which can be another cause for your slow WordPress website.

If you do find your hosting company at fault, look for other options. Trust us, there are a bazillion sophisticated options that will leave you spoilt for choice. 

Don’t try to get the cheapest option, though. Instead, select a provider that meets your website requirements efficiently.

Step 2: Pick a Fast WordPress Theme and Monitor Your Plugins Carefully 

Not all WordPress themes and plugins are equal. Some are excellent, while some are simply bad. It’s why you need to always be on guard when selecting your WordPress themes and installing plugins.

A badly-coded theme adds unnecessary weight to your page. Think of them as a paperweight that will only slow down your website.

On the other hand, if you get a theme that’s optimized for desktops, tablets, and mobile devices, you’ll be able to improve user experience and also cut off a few seconds from your page‘s loading time.

As for plugins, you only need to ask yourself a single question: Do you really need this plugin?

There’s a common misconception that you should have a plugin for everything on your WordPress website. On the contrary, adding too many plugins to your site will negatively affect it, causing it to slow down. It’s why you shouldn’t install plugins without research and try to limit the installation to ones you really can’t do without. 

Moreover, specific plugins are known for slowing down websites. This can be due to bad coding, persistent calls to external servers, or an obsolete WordPress database. While you’re at it, monitor how much CPU the plugins use as well.

Step 3: Optimize All of Your Website Images

Website images can increase your social media shares by making your content more attractive. They can also help the reader understand the topic better by giving them a visual representation of the presented content.

The only problem? They take up a lot of storage, which, in turn, increases the loading time of the pages.

What you need to do is optimize these images to reduce their size. You can download plugins like WP Smush to strip metadata from JPEGs and convert GIF images to PNG while simultaneously optimizing JPEG images. 

Opting for lazy loading is another option to optimize images without sacrificing image quality. This process is where all your images will load only when the area becomes visible to the user.

Step 4: Clean Your Trash

Your WordPress website has a trash system where any deleted comment, post, page, multimedia, and so on is sent to trash. From here, you can either restore the content or delete it permanently—just like the Recycle Bin on your desktop.

However, trash can also take a lot of space in your website database. And the bigger the database, the longer it takes to retrieve information. It’s true that WordPress automatically deletes trash after 30 days, but you can also reduce this to 7 days to speed up your website.

Just add the following code to modify your wp-config.php file:

define (‘EMPTY_TRASH_DAYS’, 7);

You can also disable the trash system completely by adding this code to your wp-config.php file:

define (‘EMPTY_TRASH_DAYS’, 0);

Step 5: Minify and Combine CSS and JavaScript Files

Every call to your CSS and JavaScript file is an HTTP request. So whenever anyone visits your webpage, your computer sends a request for a file, after which the server sends it back.

The more requests there are to your server, the longer the loading time. So naturally, your next step should be to reduce the HTTP request frequency.

You can use the PHP5 application Minify to combine multiple CSS and JavaScript files into a single file. This application will remove unnecessary white space and comments, which, in turn, will reduce the number of HTTP requests.

WordPress plugins like WP Minify or Better WordPress Minify are also available to minify your CSS and JavaScript files.

Step 6: Get the Caching Right

When we talk about caching, we want you to do two things:

#1 Enable browser caching

#2 Install a cache plugin

To enable the browser caching, you have to add the following code to your .htaccess file:

## EXPIRES CACHING ##

<IfModule mod_expires.c>

ExpiresActive On

ExpiresByType image/jpg “access 1 year”

ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access 1 year”

ExpiresByType image/gif “access 1 year”

ExpiresByType image/png “access 1 year”

ExpiresByType text/css “access 1 month”

ExpiresByType text/html “access 1 month”

ExpiresByType application/pdf “access 1 month”

ExpiresByType text/x-javascript “access 1 month”

ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash “access 1 month”

ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access 1 year”

ExpiresDefault “access 1 month”

</IfModule>

## EXPIRES CACHING ##

This will specify how long you want a particular file type to be stored, and once they expire, they’ll be downloaded again.

Installing a cache plugin is another excellent way to optimize your WordPress. These plugins let you publish static HTML files instead of dynamic files, reducing the total time taken to load a page by eliminating the need to execute PHP or MySQL commands.

You can expect to see up to 10x improvement. Some of the best cache plugins include WP Super Cache, WP Fastest Cache, and W3 Total Cache—all of which are available free of cost.

Step 7: Utilize a Content Delivery Network or CDN

All websites are hosted in a data center somewhere in the world, and yours is no different. The thing is that the further your visitor is from the location of your data center, the longer it will take for the webpages to load. 

It’s to avoid this delay why we recommend using a CDN. These networks take the heavy work away from your hosting service by hosting your images and CSS and JavaScript files before serving them to visitors from the location closest to them. 

The good news is that some of the most popular content delivery networks like MaxCDN and Cloudflare charge money based on how much bandwidth your website uses, making the service more affordable.

Next Steps

Once your WordPress is optimized, you’ll have a better website version ready at your fingertips. To leverage your newly optimized site further, you can go through other Crazy Egg articles to boost your income and your lies your business objectives:

These articles will give you a better understanding of running and maintaining your website to boost conversions, improve user experience, and ensure long-term success. 

Need more? You can also always check out our Crazy Egg blog to get the latest in the world of websites, along with useful tips and tricks, how-to’s, and tutorials.


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