Optimizing Your WordPress Blog

Optimizing Your WordPress Blog

WordPress is one of the most popular blogging and content management systems on the internet today. Millions of people run all different types of sites on this platform, and for the most part it works really well.  In addition to being a very convenient and easy to use system, it is also very powerful and flexible.  With all these options, however, it can sometimes begin to run slowly or inefficiently.  Optimizing WordPress to reduce the system resources it uses will help the site run more smoothly for you and visitors to the page.  The following simple steps can be performed regularly to keep your site optimized:

Upgrade to the Latest Version of WordPress

Like most types of software, WordPress is frequently updated and improved.  The most recent updates will help ensure your site is running the way it is supposed to.  Checking the version of your WordPress install, and updating if necessary, only takes a minute *remember to backup your database before doing any updates, just to be safe):

  • Log in to your WordPress admin page (typically located at www.yourpage.com/wp-admin)
  • Look at the top of the screen to see if there is an update available:

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  • If there is an update, click the “Please Update Now” link
  • This will bring you to the WordPress Updates page.  Find the “Update Now” button, and click it:

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  • The update shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds to a minute, and it is 100% automated.  When it has completed, you’ll be directed to a ‘Welcome to WordPress X.X.X” page, telling you what changes and improvements were made.

That’s it; your WordPress software is all up to date.  Checking for new updates every few weeks (or whenever you happen to be in the admin panel) is a great way to stay up to date.

Install a WordPress Cache Plugin

A good WordPress cache plugin will optimize how the pages are loaded by visitors, and especially help returning visitors get to your page faster.  It reduces the amount of resources that are used on the web hosting computer, which will help your site’s overall performance.  We recommend WP Super Cache, which can be installed from your Admin page:

  • Click on Plugins, then “Add New”

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  • Type “WP Super Cache” into the search bar, and hit enter
  • The WP Cuper Cache plugin will be at the top of the results, simply click “install now”

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  • Click Yes or OK to the popup that asks if you’re sure you want to install the plugin
  • Click the “Activate Plugin” link

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  • Once installed, go to the general sittings, and then the Advanced Tab.  From here, do the following:
    • Click the box next to Cache hits to this website
    • Click the button next to “Use mod_rewrite to serve cache files”
    • Click the box next to “Compress Pages”
    • Click the box next to “304 not modified browser caching”
    • Click the box next to “Don’t cache pages for known users”
    • Select the Update Status button
    • Scroll down and click the “Update Mod_Rewrite Rules” in the yellow box
  • Next, adjust the garbage collection section, and enter 3600 in the box
  • Click “Change Expiration”

All other settings can remain the same.  Once completed, your site will be running more efficiently, using fewer total resources.

Review Plugins

Another common problem with WordPress is that there are so many plugins, that many website owners just install a bunch of them.  Each one, however, will need some system resources to run.  With this in mind, it is best to only have 3-5 total plugins installed and active on your site.  If the plugin is not absolutely necessary, it should be disabled and uninstalled.  Some plugins are also known to be CPU intensive, so review all your installed plugins and see which ones need to stay, and which ones should go:

  • Click on Plugins, then Installed Plugins

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  • Look at each plugin that you have installed.  Read what it is doing for you, and determine whether or not it is something you need.  It can be helpful to Google the individual plugin name to get some reviews of how resource intensive it can be.
  • Deactivate any plugins you don’t think you need.  This is done by simply clicking the deactivate button below the plugin name.
  • *Don’t delete the files right away.  Let the site run for a few days to see if there was any negative impact from disabling the plugin.  If not, you can delete the plugin.

In addition, make sure you keep your plugins up to date.  Like the WordPress software itself, plugins get frequent updates.  When checking this page, just look for any that have the ‘update now’ button next to them, and click it.  It only takes a few seconds, and can help keep your page running much more efficiently.

Check Your Current Theme

The theme of your website may be causing it to run slowly.  There are thousands of paid and free themes out there, and some of them are not coded very well.  Googleing the name of your theme along with the word “resources” or “CPU” can help get some reviews on how it can affect your site’s performance.  If you find that the theme is known to be a problem, start looking for a new theme right away.

Checking Optimization Frequently

While some of the tips listed above will only need to be done one time, others will need a regular review.  Keeping the WordPress software and all the plugins updated, for example, needs to be done on a regular basis. If you keep up on these things, however, it will only take a few minutes per week, and it can help you to avoid a lot of problems in the future.

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