There are some tips I'd like to share when it comes to speed up a blog. A blog that takes long time to load is usually not a good way to satisfy your visitors. What happens is rather the bad – your readers will escape as fast as they can from page. And If they're not regular readers, they won't came back. So to have fast loading website is a must. 5 Tips to Speed Up WordPress Blog will show the essentials. There are more to tweak or improve, but I believe if you follow all five steps here, you can improve well not only the speed of your blob, but also your SEO ranking.
Sometimes, a changing hosting plan (or hosting company) is necessary and painful step if you can't get faster loading times on shared hosting or at your current hosting provider. The hosting offers change often and pricing varies. Since a while I'm with Hostcolor. They have shared hosting (I've started with), Virtual Private Hosting (VPS) plans or Dedicated server hosting.
01. First Things to do – Test your site speed.
For this, I'm using free online tool which shows you which elements of your page will take most time to load, and shows that in a nice waterfall based way…
At Pingdom.com they can also provide you with one free account, if you want to do a monitoring of your website, on daily basis. It's quite useful, because you can setup your e-mail address to be notified when you blog is down…
The link for the speed test at Pingom is this one: https://tools.pingdom.com/fpt
02. Use Caching Plugin – W3TC is your friend
W3TC just recently published an update to their caching plugin. The guys behind this plugin are working as technical advisors for Mashable.com.
The W3TC cache your pages, objects, database queries, pair up with a CDN and more. W3 Total Cache is a more comprehensive tool, and it requires some tweaks and some settings. That said, it’s the standard plugin for amazing caching ability, so if you want the very best, opt for W3 Total Cache.
03. CDN – Content Delivery network to the rescue.
I'm running this blog on Cloudflare network to distribute the cached content to the readers the fastest possible way. Cloudflare.com uses geolocalized datacenters around the globe to serve static content to reader which is located closer to the source. The good news is that Cloudflare has a free plan too, which enables you to cache your website and benefit some other free services as well. CloudFlare’s CDN reduces hops and lowers latency. On average, a request is fewer than 10 hops and takes less than 30ms.
At Cloudflare, it's also possible to disable hotlinking.
When enabled, the “Hotlink Protection” option ensures that other sites cannot suck up your bandwidth by building pages that use images hosted on your site. Anytime a request for an image on your site hits CloudFlare, we check to ensure that it's not another site requesting them. People will still be able to download and view images from your page, but other sites won't be able to steal them for use on their own pages
04. Get a professional Theme
I know, when you start your blog, you usually don't want to spend any money on theme, hosting and this kind of stuff. It's because you blogging mostly for fun. But when you're you want to make your blog stand out from the crowd, you have to use stuff created and maintained by professionals. Unless, you are coder or webdesigner yourself of course… I have changed theme many times in the past, and I see that to have a professional package is more secure and more flexible, because you also get a support via private forum. I'm using Genesis framework, which runs a child theme called Dynamik, which enables me to “tweak” the options via GUI. Professional theme is a good investment. With free themes you losing too much time to make the blog behave the way you want to…
05. Use as less plugins as possible
A good theme should come with the functions that you need already built-in, so no need any extra plugins. Even if that's not always the case, there are plugins that you can avoid using because the theme already provides exactly the same thing. But bear in mind that plugins are the weakness of WordPress, from the security point of view, and they slow down your WordPress blog, from the speed point of view.
There are plugins that you have to have, and the others. You might want to read those two posts where you'll find out the essentials plugins I'm using: