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How to Speed Up Your WordPress Server (Part 1) … Plus Some Jokes

English: WordPress Logo

Anyone in the mood for some speed? Not the kind you popped to pull all-nighters during college (remember the intervention? it was awkward): the kind that populates your site on all PCs and mobile devices in the tri-state area like lightning, without the electrocution part. At Superb, we host a heck ton (that’s how the kids say it, right?) of WordPress sites. Here below we will look at a few quick ways to speed up that server, courtesy of commentary at TekBrand and Pure Concepts.

Be aware, folks (space aliens, that doesn’t mean you), Superb Internet has something amazing in store for you and yours – 18 months of WP hosting for the price of 12. Hurrah! That’s like a baker’s dozen, but the baker goes completely crazy and throws in 6 extra (5 more than the standard 13 for a baker) doughnuts. “Kyle, take it easy,” says Jiminy, the bakery’s GM and financial wizard. “Doughnuts don’t grow on trees, except maybe an undiscovered tree in the Amazon. It’s right next to the tree with the cure for cancer. Grab me a paper towel, and go take a long walk in the hot sun.”

Speed Up Your WordPress Site, Now! (Or Tomorrow, or the Next Day …)

Here’s an interesting thought from Jason McCreary at Pure Concepts (note that his thoughts are excerpted from presentations he gave at WorldCamp Chicago & WorldCamp Louisville, neither of which involve actual camping, but both do exist in the world): WordPress is heavy, and so many websites run on the CMS that it is slowing down the entire Internet. Say what?! Let’s set an example for our children, our children’s children, and the free-spirited robots: let’s speed this sucker up. I’ll share a few of Jason’s thoughts first in Parts 1 & 2, then get into the TekBrand piece in Part 3.

  1. Generating a Faster Site – Optimizing your WordPress speed also involves some changes that would affect your site whether it’s on WordPress or not. The reason that’s important is because baby, WordPress doesn’t own you (unless you signed a really awful contract in a Tennessee motel room in 2009, as more than 16,000 Americans inexplicably did). When you move to another CMS, guess what? (Pause while you guess.) No, not quite: You will know how to make that site fast too. That’s what you said? My bad.
  2. Code Validity – Use this tool – the W3C Code Validation Tool –so that pages render correctly. Bad code will slow down your site or make it display incorrectly. A pox upon it.
  3. Permalinks – That’s my sausage brand. Original name: Chock Full o’ Preservatives. Note that WordPress uses permalinks to access each page of your site. You want your URLs to fit the WP structure well. In the new WP version, Jason mentions the site load time decreases only @ 1% between /%postname%/ and /%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%/. Note that Jason advises to always consider SEO over speed, so do what you gotta do (plus, it’s closing time).
  4. Nix Plugins – Streamline the site. Is your site constipated with plugins? Well, then let’s give it a laxative. Jason recommends a regularly scheduled plugin audit to ensure everything is worth the decrease in speed – it’s all weight, after all. (We could also invent a piece of software that goes in and clears out all the debris, but that’s like having your shifty cousin organize your condo for a case of beer.)
  5. 404s & Settings > Discussion – Do you want any of these? Jason advises “No” to all three. Get rid of 404s (pages that have nothing on them except your nutty 404 page copy – oh, you silly duck!). Pingbacks and trackbacks can be an open door for spammers to abuse your site; plus, they use up bandwidth and power. Go to Settings > Discussion and shut them off. Lights out at the ping party, let’s close our eyes and see what happens. Here’s more from WordPress on spam.
  6. Settings > Reading – You can display an excerpt rather than all of a post. Additionally, you want the settings to be at a mid-range: if it’s a larger quantity, pages will be more sizable; but if it’s too small, it’ll increase the pagination of the site and slow down the site with excess page requests.
  7. Code Placement – HTML requires CSS to be placed in the <head> section of your code. (Say that ten times fast to the nearest senior citizen, I bet you $20 they’ll call the FBI.) If you place CSS stylesheets anywhere else on the page, it’ll prevent progressive loading of the page, as does JavaScript. Those little wieners! Place all <script> in the footer of the page. Knock it down a few pegs; see how it treats you then. If it works with your mother-in-law, it’ll work with code. (Be aware these placements will help speed, but they may cause what’s called a flash of unstyled content, depending on what GUI you’re using).

Conclusion & Continuation

Hold on, hoss. I’m not done with you yet. Hopefully you don’t mind me calling you hoss; it’s a term of endearment here in Virginia City (I rent a cabin from the Cartwrights, really more of a woodshed or outhouse … okay, it’s an outhouse). We have two more parts in this series, and then we can all have a slumber party (a chance for us to relax in our pajamas and use those expensive sleeping bags, since we shut down the ping party). Everyone grab your flashlights and be thinking about ghost stories. No tickling.

by Kent Roberts

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