In Part 1 of this dramatic miniseries I relayed my sad tale of slow load times for my WordPress.org blog and shared how to diagnose speed problems on your own site.
So now let’s talk about what might be slowing your blog down, and what to do about it.
1. Images. Obviously, images can be rather hefty files. And if you’ve got a lot of them (or even just a few) they can bog down your site. Using speed test tools like Pingdom you can see if images are slowing your site down. If you think that may be the culprit, you can try installing a plugin like WP smush.it to condense your images. If your images are “smushed” but still causing problems, you may want to replace them and delete them from your image library.
2. Cumbersome code. Talking about code is where my knowledgebase gets a little fuzzy but here is what I understand—there’s a lot going on inside WordPress. It can take a while for your average server to wade through all of the code that makes your blog look so pretty. A caching plugin (I use Quick Cache) takes snapshots (caches) of all of the pages on your blog, creates quick-to-load static html files and serves them up to your readers. Quick and painless.
3. Plugins. I know, I know… I just suggested two different plugins to help make your blog faster, and now I’m saying plugins can slow down your blog. Not all plugins are created equally, my friends. WordPress plugins are notoriously buggy. For example, the first couple of plugins that I installed to create Facebook and Twitter share buttons on my posts were making my blog sick. I replaced them both with Share and Follow, which runs much much more smoothly for me. There are many different WordPress plugins that perform the same or similar functions, so experiment with them until you find the right fit. If you suspect your plugins are slowing things down, try deactivating them one at a time to see if your site speed improves. Once you find the errant plugin, kick it to the curb. And make sure to delete the plugins that you’re no longer using—don’t just deactivate them.
4. Your web host. If you’ve smushed your images, installed a caching tool, deleted buggy plugins and your site is STILL slow to load, it’s time to take a hard look at your web host. It can be a bit complicated to switch hosts so this should be a last resort. But for me, switching hosts finally resolved my site load problems. That’s actually sort of an understatement. Switching hosts made a phenomonal difference in my load times.
I switched hosts on April 20th from Go Daddy to Hostgator. Go Daddy has a pretty bad reputation as a web host, and had I known this before, I never would have signed up with them. I chose Hostgator as my new host because the overall buzz on them seemed good and they moved my blog for free. Not every host will move your blog/site for you, and even if they do, they often charge a fee. And it can be a real headache to try to move it yourself. Hostgator’s customer service was friendly and responsive, and they got the job done in a few hours.
From the first day I switched, I was shocked at the improvement in my blog’s speed. But what really blew me away was seeing the Google Webmaster data (above). The line is so flat it practically disappeared. If you have Go Daddy web hosting and are experiencing problems with your blog’s load times, it might be a good idea to jump ship.
The bottom line? Don’t settle for a slow site, because nobody likes to wait.
Has anyone tried any of these plugins and seen improvement? Anyone else divorced Go Daddy? Tell me your own blog speed tales of woe in the comments.