A step-by-step guide on how to optimize your WordPress installation.
How does your WordPress site score?
We’ve listed some plugins and written some recommendations for our WordPress users seeking optimization help.
After installing the plugins and doing some tweaks, here’s how our own blog fared: Our Comparison report
Note: These plugins address mainly front-end optimization issues only. If your site still takes a long time to load, an improved server or back-end code optimizations is what will make a real difference. Read more about our WordPress Hosting Service.
***Optional First Step*** Download and activate GTmetrix for WordPress
Use this plugin to get a before snapshot of your WP performance.
Note: We are currently working on a maintenance update of GTmetrix for WordPress. While it hasn’t been updated in a while, it has been tested and still works for the latest version of WordPress (4.2.2), excluding some small formatting issues.
Once you’ve installed it, enter your API key from your GTmetrix account in the Settings page (you must be registered to generate an API key).
After this is done, visit “Tests” and under the “Latest Front Page Score” module, click “Test your Front Page now” button.
A report will be generated with PageSpeed and YSlow grades for the front page of your WordPress site. This is your before performance.
Step 1) Download and activate W3 Total Cache
You’ll notice a new section in your admin sidebar called “Performance.”
a) Toggle All caching types
a) On the sidebar, click on the “General Settings” sub-section.
Under “General,” Check “Toggle all caching types on or off at once.”
W3 Total Cache will turn on all its caching features (Page Cache, Minify, Database Cache, Object Cache, Browser Cache) as well as other features you may not need (CDN, Monitoring, etc.)
Uncheck CDN and Monitoring (and any other features) if you’re not using them.
b) Under the Minify subsection in General Settings, ensure Minify is enabled.
Next, look at the option called Minify mode. Select the Auto option.
Click Save all settings.
Note: If you make any changes to your WordPress plugins, the W3 Total Cache plugin may ask you to Empty the Cache. This is done to make sure the plugin doesn’t serve a cached version of any changed files.
c) On the sidebar, click on the Minify sub-section
Under HTML & XML, check Enable in the HTML minify settings. You can also enable the other options (Inline CSS/JS minification and Line break removal), but make sure to test your site to see if it breaks.
d) On the sidebar, click on the Browser Cache sub-section
- Set expires header
- Set cache control header
- Set entity tag (eTag)
Click Save all settings.
Step 2) Download and activate WP Smush
Under the “Media” section in your WordPress sidebar, you’ll see a new menu option called “WP Smush”
In this section, ensure that the “Auto-Smush Images on upload” feature is checked. The plugin will now optimize every image you upload henceforth since you activated it.
Next, smush all of the images in your Media Library by clicking on “Bulk Smush 50 Attachments” (The free version of the plugin is limited to bulk smushing 50 attachments at a time. You’ll need to revisit this page and bulk smush the next 50 attachments).
That’s it! You’re finished.
Step 3) Analyze your site
Analyze your site again (via GTmetrix.com or with our plugin) and see the difference in performance!
After testing and playing around with many similar plugins, we’ve found that the combination of W3 Total Cache and WP Smush provide the most effective and simplest way to improve the performance of your WordPress website.
Take a look at the difference in our blog:
If you have a WordPress blog, slow or not, give these plugins a try and improve your user’s experience!
Need help? Hire a Developer
Are some optimizations beyond your technical skill?
We recommend finding a developer to help on Freelancer.com. This is a great option for website owners that want a better performing site, but don’t have the technical skill/know-how to implement optimizations.
If you need help optimizing your front and/or back-end, Visit Freelancer.com, register for an account, and create a website optimization job with your desired budget.
Freelance developers will then bid on your project and help you get your site performing faster.
Click below to create an account and start an optimization job today!