5 WordPress Website Optimization Essentials

January 20, 2016

4:00 pm

WordPress is the go-to choice platform for most bidding entrepreneurs, who are about to launch their first venture. The content management system is simple enough, with an overwhelming variety of themes and functionality that is capable of delivering impeccable user experience. It comes as no surprise that the world’s top one million websites are powered by WordPress and related to business.

While WordPress is a paramount solution indeed, you should still pay attention to the following website optimization essentials when launching your first website.

Hosting and Speed

You need a reliable hosting provider to power up your website. Sure, those are plentiful, however not all plans were created equal. While shared hosting plans are more than affordable, it’s best to opt for a more advanced solution e.g. a managed or dedicated hosting plan.

Hint: You have made a wrong choice if your server is taking ages to process HTTP requests and MySQL commands.

The one massive flow WordPress has is that it can run a bit slow. Thus optimizing your website speed should be your number one priority unless you want to lose potential clients and revenue, of course.

Use an effective caching plugin to improve your page load time and get a plugin to automatically optimize your images, if your website is visual-heavy. Additionally, you can optimize your WordPress database, turn off pingbacks & trackbacks and replace static PHP with HTML, when necessary.

Choose Your Plugins Wisely

The particular appeal of WordPress is that you can browse thousands of free plugins to power up your website without writing a single line of code.

However, with that variety comes the hustle. As the platform is open source, anyone can code a plugin. Yet, not everyone can do it well enough.

So, before installing a new plugin ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I trust the plugin developer? Did I read the reviews and is there a troubleshooting guide/support available?
  • Do I really need this plugin? Plugins drastically slow down your WordPress website.
  • Do I know how much CPU this plugin uses? A lot of plugins are known to bottleneck your CPU due to persistent processes. If that’s the case, your entire server can go down.

Make it into habit to review all your plugins on a monthly basis, deactivate and delete those you don’t use or those you can replace with a better/faster alternative.

Security

The rant about WordPress vulnerability is endless. However, here’s the deal  – in most cases it is the user to blame, not the core platform itself.  Insecure plugins and irregular updates in most cases are the reason behind WordPress security breaches.

Could WordPress do a better job with scanning malware and infections within the plugins? Absolutely. Yet, at the same time, it’s the plugin developers, who should give guarantees that their software is secure. Plus, it’s the responsibility of users to do some due diligence before installing anything to their system.

Bottom line: Fix WordPress issues regularly; avoid installing suspicious plugins and schedule to run security checks and backups on a monthly basis.

Reduce the Amount of Post Revisions and Spam

Do you know what else makes your website slow? The unwanted increase in the size of your database created by post revisions, spammy comments, trackbacks and pingbacks.

Obviously, it takes more than one draft and revision to write and publish a great post. However, it doesn’t mean you should store all your revision history and overload your database.

The best option is to reduce the amount of stored revisions to say 2-3 versions. Adding the following piece of code to your wp-config.php file will do the trick:

define( ‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, 3 );

Alternatively, you can use WP Optimize plugin that will remove the auto-drafts, clean up your trash and get rid of comment spam and trackbacks.

Search Engine Optimization

WordPress powered websites typically perform well in search results, when you do the optimization basics correctly.

Speed matters. You already know that. Run another quick check with PageSpeed Insights to reveal and fix the loose ends.

Optimize your URLs. Instead of using the standard permalinks structure, opt for /%postname%/ or /%category%/%postname%/ in case you run a content-heavy website. In this case both search engines and users can render the content of your post better.

Optimize images.  Apart from making sure the size is fine, add relevant keywords to alt tags, plus consider custom descriptions to optimize the visuals for Pinterest.

Mobile-optimized. Most modern themes already come with a responsive, mobile layout. However, it’s best to double-check your website performance with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool.

Use Yoast Plugin for on-page optimization.  Arguably, the most well-know on-page SEO plugin for WordPress that will help you optimize your blog posts for target keywords, social sharing and more.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien

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