Improve WordPress Website Performance
Helpful articles because running a small business is Big Work!
Improve Your WordPress Website Performance
Easy to Medium Level Fixes Worth Making
Are you ready to improve your WordPress website performance? These five tips will help you on your way.
Remember the old adages- “Beauty is only skin deep“, and, “It’s what’s on the inside that matters“? In the case of your website, these couldn’t be any more true!
Just like a person who may look amazing on the outside, a trip to the doctor and a check under the hood may reveal some unexpected health issues. In this article, you’ll learn about 5 things that could be affecting the short-term and long-term health (functionality) of your website. Let’s make some improvements.
Is It Time for a Website Wellness Check?
To make sure that your website is performing for you, here are a few things to check and care for regularly.
1) What Are Your Website’s Image Sizes?
Super-size me was pretty popular for a few years, and just like the health issues it causes in people, the same can be said for your website. One of the biggest culprits in slowing down your site are the sizes of the images on the page. Image size is not always just what you see. It’s how the image was created. If an image is too large for the page / or placeholder your website will be forced to resize it. It’s akin to shoving 10 pounds of potatoes into a 5-pound bag. It’s still 10 pounds.
If your image was created by a professional photographer, it can very literally be the size of an interior door. This is due to its high resolution. However, it is being resized to fit onto your screen. Imagine the stress on your website (not to mention smartphone screen sizes). Some images are the proper resolution (72dpi for on-screen is appropriate) but are too large in inches/pixels. These images are also being resized by your website.
See the image below which highlights some random website code. This shows the natural size of the image is 704 pixels wide and 611 pixels high and the website is being forced to resize it to 354 pixels wide by 307 pixels high. The size of the image being served to these website visitors is double the size that it should be. This represents just one image on one page of the website. A cumulative total for this entire website is slowing down the site considerably. The better solution would be to remove the double-sized image, create a scaled to true-size image, and reload the image to the website.
MYTH: Any image can be used on a website
PROBLEM: Image Sizes are Too Large
SOLUTION: Format Your Images to the Proper Size and Resolution
2) Are the Images Dressing with ALT Tags?
For the health of your site, as defined by Google (and other search engines), it is important that your images can strongly- and accurately- identify themselves by how they are dressed. Google can easily “read” your website verbiage and understand what you are talking about. From there, they rank your site (the algorithm is actually quite complex). Images, however, cannot be “read” by Google. According to search engines, an “undressed”, and thereby unidentified, image of a tree is the same as an unidentified image of a bowling ball, and neither will do you any good. It’s kind of like the shaking weight. (If you don’t know what that is, you may get a good chuckle when you look it up.)
What Search Engines See
The big however here is that images can easily be identified in your website by dressing them with “alt” tags. Every image that is used on a website, to add visual value, should be dressed with an “alt” tag that represents what the image is (and more accurately, what a user would be searching for) so that Google can “read and understand” its purpose.
For instance, in the sample image above, as an example of using the wrong type of alt-tag, the alt-tag used was “home”. “Home” doesn’t tell Google about the image, or about the website that image is on. Further, potential customers of this business are not searching for the phrase “home” as they look for the product or service that this business’ website offers.
A Better Alt-Tag
A better alt-tag would be something that identifies the purpose of the web page that image is on. For instance, “water damage repair” would be a good example of an alt-tag for an image on a page of a website of a company that provided clean up and restoration for homes with water damage. Or, “wedding hair salon city-name” for a hair salon wanting to show up in search results for people looking for salons that specialize in hair styles for weddings in a specific geographic location.
MYTH: Images are just for your website visitors to view
PROBLEM: Websites are missing out on improved rankings in search results by potential customers
SOLUTION: Add alt-tags to all of the images that add value to your website
3) Is Your Site Overstuffing Needlessly?
Just like for people, there are several reasons causing your website to bloat. A bloated website does not perform the way that it should, it can make a website vulnerable to attacks, and isn’t all that pleasant to be around. Here are just a few things that could be causing website bloat:
- Deactivated themes or plugins. They are still taking up room on your website.
- Old or oversized images
- Website backups stored on your server
- Too much content / too many images for one page
- Shared server hosting in a “bad neighborhood”
MYTH: Your website can hold all of your content from the past for an indefinite amount of time
PROBLEM: Websites are overstuffing and perform slowly and are vulnerable to attack
SOLUTION: Keep content updated and current only on a managed hosting server
4) Does Your Site Have a Virus? Can it?
No one wants to be sick with a virus. Their source is usually difficult to pinpoint and getting over one can knock you off your feet for days or weeks. You don’t look yourself, and you definitely don’t act like yourself. You guessed it, it’s the same with a website virus. There are some likely sources of attacks. Here are a few things to prevent an attack.
Websites are vulnerable to a virus- an attack- when they are at their weakest. Promising you will avoid an attack we cannot do. However, we will give you some resources to help you combat anyone who tries.
- Use only tested and reliable plug-ins
- Make sure you keep your plug-ins current and up to date
- Keep your core software up to date
- Implement a security system for your website (check out Flywheel hosting which includes this and more)
- Create and store full off-site backups
- Remove all old files and deactivated plug-ins
What to do if you are hacked, attacked, or otherwise embattled with a virus?
First, don’t panic. If you’ve been keeping full backups of your website (files and databases both), restoring your website should be a fairly straight-forward process. It’s just an uncomfortable experience to have to deal it.
However, ask yourself how you’ll know if your website is under attack. Unless you’re watching your site every minute of every day, it may be hard to know. Outsourcing a care plan or monitoring service may be worth its weight in gold if you rely on your website to generate business and revenue.
What to Expect from a Virus on Your Website
Similar to when you get sick from a virus, no two people are exactly the same but they do exhibit some common side effects. Your virus laden website will be the same. Here are some things website visitors may experience if your website falls ill:
- Worst case scenario is a complete crash and nothing shows on the screen (the horror!)
- Forms are no longer working
- Random and unapproved posts or comments start showing up in your feeds
- Certain plug-ins stop working or only work partially
- Formatting of your site is askew
MYTH: If a website looks great and is functioning properly it is not susceptible to viruses or attacks
PROBLEM: Vulnerabilities exist for websites uncared for
SOLUTION: Take precautions against attacks including security protocols
5) Query Monitor. What Is It and Why Do You Want it?
Are some items on your website ‘all of a sudden‘ not working? We often hear ‘the site was fine yesterday‘ only to find that it’s not so fine today. Many times, these odd occurrences appear after a new plug-in is added. Or, an existing plug-in receives updating. If you want to improve your WordPress website performance consider installing Query Monitor. Query Monitor includes some advanced features. It also includes the ability to narrow down ‘glitches’ by plugin or theme. Therefore, allowing you to quickly determine poorly performing plugins, themes, or functions.
If you’re new to WordPress, you may want to engage a developer to help you with Query Monitor. Query Monitor is in the plugin directory and has been for almost 10 years ago. In 2021, it has more than 100,000 installs.
The Wrap Up: Improve Your WordPress Website Performance
Not caring for your website after launching it? It is a common mistake that many new website owners, entrepreneurs, and small businesses make. You can think of caring for your website like caring for your own health. One good check up doesn’t mean you give up on eating healthy, exercising and getting plenty of rest — you know you have to keep it up if you want your next check up to go well, too. Therefore, you will improve your WordPress website performance by keeping up with these items.
If you are looking to improve your WordPress website performance, these items should help. However, if you’d like a little help we’re here for you. You can reach us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or take a look at some of the services we offer to care for your website.