In addition to everything we've talked about in our WP Engine Speed Series, there are a few Smart Optimizations that can give an extra speed boost to your site. My name is Trey and I'm a Support Technician here at WP Engine and I'll be highlighting these optimizations that we've learned over the years supporting WordPress.
First up is deleting inactive plugins. While you may deactivate a plugin it is possible that it's information is still being held in the database, and if this is a plugin that stores large amounts of information you could suffer from database bloat. Also, even if a plugin is deactivated it can still pose a security risk should a vulnerability be discovered within the plugin. In order to reduce this risk it is highly advised that you either delete plugins that are not essential to the primary functionality of your site, or keep them up to date if you intend to use them later.
The next place to look, with regards to speed, is splitting comments into pages. You can do this by going to Setting and then Discussion from your wp-admin dashboard. Here you will be able to configure your comments to load into multiple pages - the benefit of this approach is that it will limit the amount of requests to the database, resulting in quicker load times. There are even options to paginate comments based on different criteria, such as the amount of comments that are allowed per page and which page is the default to land on when the site loads. When enabling pagination, the 50 most recent comments on page 1 will be displayed but it can also be configured so that the first page of comments (newer) or last page of comments (older) is displayed first.
Another item you can look into is a caching plugin. Its very possible that your WordPress host, such as WP Engine, already has caching enabled, but in the interest of this series we'd like to cover some caching plugins that may be a quick win for your site's speed but please note that these plugins are NOT applicable for the WP Engine environment as caching is an inherent part of our platform. There are several plugin based caching solutions for WordPress, one of the more popular options is W3 Total Cache, which is easy to use and allows for a large degree of control of your site's caching. WP Supercache, made by Automattic, is the middle ground between advanced and intermediate caching. This plugin offers a simple "On" button for caching but also allows for some great advanced features to really dial in your speed. Yet another option is Fast Cache, This plugin is by far the easiest to implement and is as simple as installing, activating, and hitting the on button. If you're looking for a turn key solution that requires no configuration this may be the best option.
Next, I'm going to cover CloudFlare, a company that enables businesses across the world to serve their entire site from a globally redundant content delivery network, or CDN. While we covered what a CDN is and a few companies you can utilize CloudFlare provides an additional web application firewall for security, and bundles several website optimization tools into their product that can optimize your browser cache headers, and even optimize your pages to minimize the number of network connections.
Another way to add a large number of features to your WordPress site is eith Jetpack. JetPack is a fantastic plugin, but we would recommend you treat each of its individual features as if they were individual plugins. Regardless of the quality or efficiency of a plugin’s code, activated features will still add additional processing time during execution to generate and render your site, and thus will have an affect on page speed. If a feature is not required for the functionality of your site, you should disable it. This is true of all plugins, not just Jetpack. Ultimately the less code your site runs, the faster it can generate the page.
To disable specific Jetpack features, go to the jetpack settings page and click "See the Other 27 Jetpack Features" link at the bottom of the page. This will take you to a list of features available in Jetpack. Simply click the OFF button on the settings you wish to disable.
An often overlooked aspect of managing your WordPress site is general maintenance. Ensuring you follow these simple steps can help keep your site stable, fast, and secure. WordPress is constantly evolving each year, and each update brings additional features, stability and security enhancements. In order to take advantage of all these improvements you need to ensure WordPress is up to date! Luckily, if you're a WP Engine customer, we make sure that all critical security updates are automatically applied and make non critical updates a breeze to install. You also want to keep your plugins and themes up to date, as these are often patched to take advantage of WordPress feature and security enhancements. Failing to do these things has the potential to lead to security and speed issues.
Another item to consider, is keeping your Revision count down, most developers would suggest keeping them between three and five in order to minimize database bloat. Although we disable revisions by default at WP Engine we do still offer the ability to enable them as needed for your site. The default draft functionality is still enabled, so you can still save drafts of a page or post. If you find you need Revisions please feel free to reach out to our WP Engine support team!
If you are paginating your posts you can control the amount of posts that are loading on the page in the Reading section in the general WordPress settings. By limiting them to a lower number than the default, 7 per page, you can drastically improve performance. Think of it this way...if you have a page loading 7 posts it could be pulling a considerable amount of information from the database. Let's say we make a call for a post....WordPress will serve the post content, the featured image, the author information, the date and time, and if you have other custom functionality it will pull that info as well. Multiply that by 7 or more and it starts to make sense that lowering the number of posts per page, even by two could cut down the load time significantly.
If you do not need or want avatars on your comment section, be sure to remove the functionality so as to reduce the amount of HTTP requests needed to load your page. To do this, you will need to log in to your WordPress site and go to the Settings and then Discussion menu. Scroll down to the Avatars section and uncheck the box next to ‘Show Avatars’. Once this is done you will want to click on Save so that your changes take effect.
With that, we're at the end of the Marketer videos in our WP Engine Speed Series. I hope by listening and doing you were able to learn a lot. You're welcome to continue on into the Advanced videos section of our Speed Series, where we'll take you a bit further down the technical path of increasing site performance. Thanks for watching!
There are a few Smart Optimizations that can give a little speed boost to your site and some of these are built right into WordPress core.
In this video we will share a few tips to squeeze an extra few milliseconds out of your site's speed.