I operate four WordPress sites and I constantly do maintenance tasks to maintain and/or improve speed and performance of my sites.
“Why,” you ask?
I learned very quickly that my page speed directly affects ad revenue. This not only means the speed of the entire page becoming visible to the reader, but the advertising as well. My revenue comes from advertising and readers can’t click on ads if they can’t see them.
Most readers are impatient and will move on to the next page or back out completely if they don’t see what they’re looking for or anything else of interest that may catch their eye.
Through research to deal with performance problems in the past, I’ve learned a few key things to watch out for.
TOO MANY PLUGINS
Plugins use a great deal of your server resources to serve the content required for their operation. These can include but are not limited to loading images, and page redirections to and from outside sites for plugin operation. You should evaluate the benefit received from every plugin installed.
A perfect example is a social sharing plugin that can be set to include several social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. Each of these images must be downloaded and the plugin’s operation required site redirections. Be sure to ask yourself if the benefit you receive from using the plugin is worth the hit to your site’s performance.
The experience and knowledge of those creating plugins can vary greatly and the plugin landscape is always changing to keep up with technology. Quite often plugins can conflict with each other, even if they’ve been installed for a while. Any changes such as a WordPress update, plugin update, etc. can cause a conflict that must be addressed.
To avoid such conflict, test your site’s speed and performance at a site like GTMetrix.com both before and after installing plugins, performing updates, or any other changes.
If a conflict is suspected, troubleshoot by deactivating all plugins at once and then reactivating them one at a time until the problem experienced reoccurs. Remove the plugin that caused the problem.
The problems experienced with plugins can be experienced with widgets as well, although usually not as frequently or severely. The most important thing to keep in mind with widgets is ‘site redirections’.
Plugins for advertising banners, google advertising, etc. frequently require retrieving data or performing page redirections while loading.
IMAGE MANAGEMENT, SIZE AND QUALITY
Using images in posts can be one of the most detrimental factors to a site’s speed. Certain things are important to remember.
- Ensure the image is the size it will be seen at on the page as resizing the image each time it loads can take extra time;
- Make the effort to optimize images. There are plugins such as SmushIt that will do this for you, but I’ve tried every one I could find and they all caused a significant decrease in page speed. Instead, I always use my favorite free photo editing software ‘Photoscape‘ to resize the image and then to reduce the quality while saving.
- There are enticing plugins such as Photodropper that help with finding and placing free images, but the ones I’ve tried have caused the largest performance issues of any others. The ones I’ve tried did not optimize images. Although I was presented with a selection of image sizes while setting up the image on the page, the image had to be resized every time it was loaded. Manually image optimization is key here. Although I did try using Photodropper to find the free images and then download and optimize themselves, the plugin itself caused performance problems. I get free images to use on my blogs from the Microsoft clipart library online for the most part. It is available to anyone who has Microsoft Office installed and these images are free, fairly small and can be easily converted, resized or optimized before placement. Another good place to get free images is Wikipedia or Wikimedia. Just be sure to use the required credit text that can be found by clicking on the image to reach its main information page.
DATABASE REPAIR AND OPTIMIZATION
The database for your WordPress site can have a great impact if it is not subjected to regular maintenance and cleaning.
Here is a step by step process for doing this to improve speed of loading your site using cPanel.
There are plugins available that will do this for you, but again, is it worth the sacrifice of performance and speed when manual repair and optimization is so easy and takes only about five minutes?
- Go to your cPanel dashboard (left). These can differ from web host to web host, but you should be able to find the links to perform these functions quite easily.
- Go to phpMyAdmin (left green) and the phpMyAdmin window will open (right).
- Click on the phpMyAdmin database dropdown to select a database (right yellow).
- Select the first database in the database selection dropdown, click ‘Check All’ at the bottom of the table list that appears to select all tables (right blue).
- Once the tables are checked (right blue), go to the ‘With selected:’ dropdown (right green) and select ‘Repair table’.
- Once the repair is complete, do this for each database in the database selection dropdown.
- The window will change to a confirmation window stating “Your SQL query has been executed successfully” with a listing of the tables completed below (bottom left purple).
- Repeat steps 3 to 5 above, this time selecting ‘Optimize table’ in the ‘With selected:’ dropdown.