I hope you found the webinar on site speed to be helpful. Below are my recommendations and favorite tools for speeding things up. If you have any questions, just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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1. Ditch your crappy hosting.
I currently recommend Cloudways. I’ve moved dozens of clients there, and I host my own sites there, too.
They add a management layer and optimized configuration on cloud-based VPS hosts. I usually like to use Vultr as the underlying host, as it’s performed very well in my tests, and is also the least expensive option (win-win!).
A 1GB Vultr VPS with Cloudways, properly configured with PHP 7 and WP Rocket Caching, should be able to handle several hundred thousand pageviews per month — and it’s just $11/month.
They offer support via 24/7 chat, and support tickets, and they’re usually very quick to respond.
2. Cache all the things.
My favorite caching plugin is currently WP Rocket. Even if you install it and don’t tweak any settings, it’ll automatically start caching pages and optimize your server settings (enabling gzip compression, and setting correct caching headers). Be sure to enable caching for mobile pages, which they leave off by default.
At $39/year, it’s worth every penny.
3. Optimize your photos.
I’m in love with Imagify – which is actually made by the same folks from WP Rocket. It’s straightforward to configure (unlike many of the other image processing plugins), can scale down large images (height & width) as well as compress them further — and has an Undo function, so if you don’t like how an image looks, you can easily revert.
It requires that you set up an account with them, which gives you 25MB of free processing each month, plus another 25MB when you sign up. If you need to do a large batch (of your existing images), you can pay a little bit to do so, and the cost is nominal.
4. Unclutter your site.
This goes for both the front end of your site (too many extra graphics, badges, and doohickeys), as well as the back end (plugins, mostly).
For plugins, go through the list and see if there are any that have overlapping functionality. If so, can you remove one of them?
It’s also a good idea to delete inactive plugins and themes — having extra code lying around on your server isn’t a great idea.
Tools like Crazy Egg, HotJar, and TruConversion can also be useful in uncluttering. They creates click “heat maps” and interactive analytics to show where people click on your site, how far down they scroll, and how they use your site. If people don’t click on it, you may want to ditch it!
5. Switch to SSL (https).
I know we didn’t get to this in the Q&A, but adding SSL is another good way to help speed up your site.
This requires installing an SSL certificate on your server. Many hosting companies now offer free certificates from Let’s Encrypt, which makes it much cheaper (Free!) and easier to get set up. Then make sure your hosting company is using http/2 – which is where the speed benefit comes in.
The Really Simple SSL Plugin can help with making sure your site switches over, and you don’t have a ton of mixed-content (http requests on https pages) issues.
6. Use a Content Distribution Network.
It adds about 75 milliseconds for data to travel from one side of the country to the other (on top of the time it takes for the server to respond to the request and send the actual data). That doesn’t sound like much, but when there are a hundred (or hundreds) of requests on a page, that can really add up… so it’s better for your visitors to be getting the data from a server near them.
My preferred CDN — and firewall — is Sucuri’s Cloudproxy, especially because they also cache HTML at their edge locations. I commonly see cached pages returned to me in less than 50ms total, which is a fantastic time-to-first-byte.
If you use CloudProxy, I recommend using the Sucuri Flush plugin, which will flush the cache whenever a post is updated (so your visitors always see the correct content). You’ll also want to use the Sucuri Security plugin.
I include Sucuri’s “Complete Website Security Pro” in my WordPress support plans, which is both the CloudProxy Firewall/CDN and their Antivirus Scanner. Purchased directly from Sucuri, this would be $300/year.
If all this stuff makes your head spin… I offer ongoing WordPress support and maintenance services, including:
- Backups (and help restoring if you ever need)
- Security scanning (and help getting un-hacked if need be)
- Uptime monitoring (to be sure your site is always online)
- CloudProxy Firewall and Global CDN
- WP Rocket Premium Caching Plugin
- WP Recipe Maker Premium
A special offer, just for IACP Members:
If you sign up for one of my support plans, I’ll also include:
- Site migration to Cloudways ($250 value)
- Bulk image optimization ($150 value)
- SSL setup, and switching over your site to all-SSL ($150 value)
- A plugin audit that would make Marie Kondo proud ($100 value)
So please take a look at the plans, and then let me know if you have any questions.
More Site Speed Resources
- Waterfalls 101
Check out this primer about how to read the waterfall display (which is what you get from GTmetrix and WebPageTest).
Tests download speed, show the waterfall, and makes recommendations based on Page Speed and YSlow.
Similar to GTMetrix. Not as pretty, but has some more detail.
- Pingdom Testing Tools
Similar to GTMetrix and WebPageTest, but a little prettier.
- Google Search Console
See how Google views your site! Essential insights, including your site’s performance.
- Google Code: Speed
Google’s resources for making the web faster.
- Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool
Run your site through this and it’ll give recommendations on how to speed it up.