Help! My Blog Is Slow As Molasses!
Do you have any advice on speeding up the load time of a blog? Mine is loading too slow.
An Amazing Just Ask Kim Reader
Thanks for the great (and unfortunately common) question!
Before we can troubleshoot anything we have to have something we can measure!
To get that, we want to use a high-quality speed test.
For this I suggest http://tools.pingdom.com/ Which is one of the very few tools that tests for all the wizbang that the sites run besides just html. (They also make a great up-time monitor and alert system that I use.)
If a friend tells you your site is loading slow for them, ask them to run this test for you next time it feels sluggish (and you do the same).
Any time your web is feeling sluggish you first have to rule out your own computer, browser, and internet service provider (ISP).
The first step in this… assuming you already run a good antivirus and anti-malware solution on your PC is to clear your browser cookies and cache.
Once we know that it really IS our own website…
Site slowdowns that happen out of the blue generally happen for a couple primary reasons…
Hosts like Godaddy have no business hosting wordpress and have been chronically overselling their servers making them slow. Plenty of small hosting companies have the same issue but not at such a scale. Always pick a WordPress optimized, high quality, host. Hostgator is my pick of the litter but Bluehost/HostMonster isn’t too far behind. Those three are heads and shoulders above the rest.
Hosting issues will often show themselves in “peaks” … meaning that the load times will be acceptable at some times, and other times they will be totally horrific. (There are a few hosting issues that are not particularly the hosts fault, such as when you are using too many plugins and using up the portion of the server’s memory that you have paid for in your hosting account.)
2. Dynamic Widgets
These are widgets that load content from other sites like Twitter, Facebook, Networked blogs, Google Friend Connect etc… a couple of these are okay, but they cause loads of site slowdown and get people in trouble. Reduce the number of them as your site traffic grows. (They are very powerful for blogs just getting started though to create social proof! Later, just one or two will suffice!)
Plugins add a lot to site slowdown and few people realize this. Many people become plugin’o’holics and find their site reduced to a crawl. (Hi – I’m Kim and I’m a plugin’o’holic!)
Dev team says no more than 20 but most moderate-traffic social media blogs do alright at 30 plugins (including the ones baked into the themes), more than that is usually creeping into fast trouble. A good caching plugin (w3 total cache) will help a little with with this slow down. Reduce the number of them as your site traffic grows.
Its important to know that all plugins installed contribute to slow-down, not just the activated ones, which sounds illogical, but is how it works. Delete anything your not using.
Sometimes a recently installed plugin, installed a week or two prior, or a recent update to an installed plugin can be associated with site slow down as well.
Graphic heavy sites that have graphic intensive themes and sidebars and uncompressed images can be another source of slow down but this rarely shows up surprisingly fast unless someone switches into a sluggish theme (of which there are many).
If your header or sidebar (or… almost always trouble… background) graphic has changed recently be sure its “optimized” (aka compressed) at the lowest file size possible without losing too much quality, so it loads fast.
The big framework themes Thesis and Genesis are optimized for speed and why marketers prefer starting there, as it reduces overhead. Many free themes are NOT speed optimized (but a few like Swift are). Again, this is another place that W3 Total Cache plugin can help with, but at the same time a fast theme is highly suggested and you may want to look into wp-smushit plugin if you run a lot of images in your posts.
Regarding the speed test…. 2 seconds would be idea but that is very difficult on a fully set up WordPress site. 4-5 seconds is kinda the usual sweet spot for typical WordPress installs. 6 second’s isn’t too bad. 8 seconds is where this blog is setting at at the moment and I consider that just a touch high given that I yet need to put my dynamic widgets back in place (its due to my plugin addiction). 8 seconds is only ideal if your a cowboy! Anything over that and you’ve got some real serious work to do. (There are some 12-15 second sites that I’ve been on that were not horrific, but then again I have fairly fast broadband. Loading times are subjective based on internet speed.)
If you are one of my intermediate and advanced WordPress readers you are probably chomping at the bit to remind everyone that there are many great and powerful tools for troubleshooting such as Yahoo’s Y!Slow, Googles PageSpeed and Firebug. This post is meant as a much more basic overview of where to start troubleshooting… particularly for those that the idea of playing with “techy things” isn’t the best place to start! Those tools are very powerful and certainly the next best step!
I hope this gives you some great ideas to start troubleshooting the next time your blog hits a hiccup!
Have you experienced any symptoms of WordPress slow-down and what solved the problem for you? I hope you’ll share your stories as well as your frustrations with others so that we can help each other out! Got a hot tip I forgot to mention? Be sure to include it below!
Please pass the along to your friends and networks if you think it might benefit them. I appreciate all of the tweets, shares, and bookmarking love!
Your Partner In Online Success
PS: If you have a site that is really having a hiccup and its not easily resolved by the suggestions above – or the suggestions make your eyes glaze over – feel free to leave a comment or get in touch letting me know you need some support time, as I also offer scheduled consultations to help you out!