Squeezing Max. Speed out of your WordPress Website

Ok, so you’ve chosen a domain, and a host and your website is up and running. Hopefully you chose a good host, see a separate post on why we think Cloudways.com is one of the best out there. Keep reading to find out our tips for getting the most speed from your website.

If you haven’t chosen a web host, then there’s still time to pick out the best to suit your wallet and website. Generally, when you’re starting out, a basic site will be fine. This is especially true if you’re starting a new blog or site that has no traffic yet. You’ll likely take time to build it up, so there’s not much point being on an advanced, speedy, expensive server with no traffic to serve. However, you’ll want to be able to transition to one if your web traffic does build up, so knowing how easily you can scale your website is going to be important to understand. 

So, how to tune up your site. Here’s some tips and reasons why you need to use them:

Use a good host, our tip is to use Cloudways.com – you can easily scale to a more powerful server, the account comes with free backups, has great customer support and you can site your server near to your users or customers, i.e., if your readers are in the US, then locate your server in New York.

Use a cache plugin, the one we use on this site is developed by Cloudways and is Breeze. It’s bundled with their hosting plan, and out of the box is a great way to speed up your site. Caches work by keeping close to hand all the files needed for the pages that are requested most often. A bit like a warehouse having their fastest selling products located next to the delivery pick up door. It helps on cutting down on the time it takes to serve files, including the html code, images, JavaScript and any other items that your pages are linking to, including PDF files, etc.

Similar to a cache is a CDN, or Content Delivery Network. Using the above example of the cache but extending it to a user in Tokyo looking at your website, which is hosted in London. The images and files would have to travel across the internet via a myriad way, getting stuck in bottlenecks along the way. All of this might take several seconds, by which time your user in Tokyo has given up waiting and moved on. By using a CDN, those images and files are stored closer to the user/customer, e.g., they might also be in Tokyo, or Shanghai, still closer to the user than having to come from London. Cloudways uses Cloudflare, one of the largest and fastest growing CDN networks in the world, with over 300+ offices located worldwide, there’s sure to be a server located close to your visitor. If that’s the case, then the files are supplied superfast, helping to keep your visitors glued to your website.

Having a powerful enough server – If your site is getting a lot of traffic, then you will have to consider moving to a better specified server, e.g., start out on a server with 1GB RAM, but with an increase in traffic, you’ll want to move to 2GB, 4GM or 8GB.

Get your imagery right – Ensure that you use the right sized images on your site. Don’t upload huge images and expect the site to load them quickly. Try to size them so that they are appropriate, i.e., a 500kb image is fine for the front page, but a 10mb image isn’t. Use Adobe Photoshop, or Adobe Express or Canva to prepare images correctly, but there are plugins or services available to compress your images to a much lower size. Be aware though that when you do this, you’ll generally lose the meta data that might be in your image file, and this may or may not be an issue for you. 

Use Cloudflare – Without labouring the point, Cloudways offers the Cloudflare Enterprise package to its users, which means for $5 per domain, you can get your site under the umbrella of Cloudflare and see your site get automatically supercharged. This is a seriously good reason to choose Cloudways hosting, as the regular price you’d have to pay for the Cloudflare Enterprise tier is in the thousands of dollars per month. You’ll also get a ton of side benefits, including lazy load images, images that resize on the fly, firewall policies that keep the bad guys and bots out, meaning that your site is focusing on delivering great content to your visitors, i.e., the visitors that you want to have on your site.

All the tips we’ve put here are powering this site. We regularly test the speed response via Cloudflare and it’s currently 98/100, which is about as fast as you can get. We started out with a free Cloudflare account, and then moved all our domains to it. We found that Cloudflare has some of the fastest DNS hosting out there, with Time To First Byte, and Page Loads in a fraction of the time other hosts take to respond. If you want to understand each of these points more, then contact us for more details.