Mar 252012
 
Speed Up Wordpress Before and After

Do you see those “Pingdom Before” speed results? 8.27 seconds load time! When I saw that,“Speed Up WordPress” jumped to the TOP of my to do list for this blog. 8.27 seconds. That’s ridiculous.

It took a few different experiments to speed up wordpress, and after much tweaking and un-tweaking,  I was able to make my blog load a lot faster! As you can see, 704 milliseconds!

The results vary based on time of day and other factors out of my control, but usually, my results are around a second or less.

Here is what I did; the good, the bad, and the ugly! I am telling you what worked and what didn’t work for me. Hopefully, this will save you some time as you try to speed up WordPress loading time for your blog.

Some things to know:

  • I am on shared hosting on HostGator.
  • My theme is Suffusion.
  • My WordPress version is up-to-date.
  • I don’t claim in any way to be a WordPress expert. I am not telling you what to do – I am merely telling you what I did.
  • I will cover the basics of what I did – if you want me to explain something in greater detail, please let me know in the comments.

First, I took a baseline of my blog’s performance. I performed the baseline tests multiple times, on different computers, and in different browsers. I absolutely need the benchmarks to see if my efforts to speed up wordpress succeed.

Speed Up WordPress by Optimizing My Cache

This area took me the longest. I did a LOT of experimenting here. I already had W3 Total Cache installed and my site obviously wasn’t doing so hot.

I took it down and tried WP Super Cache. That really distorted my blog, so I disabled it and tried again to speed up wordpress with W3 Total Cache. I must have had W3TC configured poorly previously so I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the ideal settings for me.

So many of the tutorials online are not an ideal set up for shared hosting like I have on HostGator. Luckily, I found something I could really work from to configure it.  A member of the HostGator support staff posted his W3 Total Cache configuration on his blog at http://projects.pithyphrase.net/w3settings.

I downloaded his config.php file and installed it into my Performance Settings and hoped it would speed up WordPress better than the configuration I had previously. JUST A NOTE: If you decide to install his settings, BE SURE TO CHANGE THE SITEMAP SETTINGS!!

Some key things I think you should know if you are on shared/reseller hosting like I am:

  • Don’t enable database or object caching. These are not ideal settings for shared hosting.
  • Minify on auto didn’t seem to work for me. I had to use it manually.
  • Apparently, eTags aren’t great for shared hosting as well.
It took me a LOT of tries to get my Amazon Cloudfront CDN settings right. I don’t know why I had such a brain cramp here.
I set it to Amazon S3.
Then, I set it up to use S3 and Cloudfront using origin push.
Then, I set it up to use Cloudfront using origin pull.
Then, I set up multiple 6 CNames to work with my CDN.
Then, I went back to using just 1 CName.
GAH!!

I fussed and fussed here, frustrated that I couldn’t find a SIMPLE explanation of how to do this. Finally, I think I have it configured well. This took me WAY longer than it should have.

Later, I also installed a plugin, FV Gravatar Cache, to also cache my gravatars.  I am not sure how much it helps or hurts – but felt it was worth a try.

Speed Up WordPress by Optimizing My Images

I was using a Flickr plugin that allowed me to find and insert images from Flickr into my posts. I also was changing the size of each picture from its original size when I displayed it in my posts.  Not good.  Simple fix: I went to Flickr, downloaded each picture in the size I needed, and uploaded them to my site.

Then, I installed the plugin WP Smush it.  This is a GREAT plugin. Made a big difference on most of my images. In my opinion, this is a MUST HAVE plugin to speed up WordPress.

Another thing I noticed was that on my blog post, 7 Tools To Discover Your Digital Identity, I was calling forth images from Spokeo to illustrate one of my points. Unnecessary.

To fix this, I took a screenshot of that section of my blog post, optimized that image, and used that instead.  That seemed to help with my loading time as well as that post no longer had to call multiple images from Spokeo.

Speed Up WordPress by Optimizing My Plugins

I had fun with this part. I like plugins. I am a bit of a gadget geek and I have to continually practice restraint on my blogs. I simply want every plugin in the world!

While viewing my “waterfalls” on Pingdom, I noticed my social share plugin was a real drag.  I swapped it out for a couple of others that I had used in the past, and didn’t see much of an improvement.

Then I installed the Digg Digg Share Bar now owned by Buffer. It has lazy loading which I love. Doesn’t slow down my site to load anything. Definitely saw an improvement there.

I did have to forfeit a bit of design options. I liked that I could add color to my social share bar and the splash of color it added to my site – but I prefer the ability to speed up WordPress. Also, I liked that me share bar now has Buffer and Pinterest. Nice!

Speed Up WordPress Plugins

Speed Up WordPress Plugins

After that, I found another awesome plugin that I am a BIG fan of. P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler).

With this, I scan my plugins and see how each one affects my site.  On my first scan, I found a few offenders that I was unaware of.

As you can see on the image to the right, my plugins had a major impact on my loading time. 81.8% of my page load time was plugins! There is no way I can get my loading time to around one second if it takes over over a second just to load my plugins.

The plugin with the largest impact was “Viper Proof”. Bummer. I really liked this plugin. Unfortunately, as much as I liked it, it had to go for now.  Maybe a version will come out soon that will be less impacting.

The next plugin doing the most impact was Jetpack plugin from WordPress. I don’t use the benefits of Jetpack to justify having it, so it was deactivated as well. Not worth forfeiting the chance to speed up wordpress.

The third largest was CommentLuv Premium, which there is NO WAY I was getting rid of, so that stayed.  There is NO way I am having a social media focused blog without it. I love to go to ComLuv+ blogs and I love to offer my readers ComLuv+ options in their comments. I personally have to have it.

My fourth largest plugin demand was Akismet. I am experimenting with it activated and deactivated. I may not need it because CommentLuv Premium may discourage spammers for me sufficiently.  At the moment, it is deactivated, though I may turn it back on.

Speed Up WordPress Plugins After

Speed Up WordPress Plugins After

In my first post on this blog, I shared the plugins I am currently using. In my efforts to speed up WordPress since this first post, my plugins have changed a bit.

  • Akismet – DEACTIVATED
  • CommentLuv Premium*
  • Easy WP SEO*
  • Flickr Photo Post – DELETED
  • Google Analytics for WordPress
  • JetPack – DEACTIVATED
  • ManageWP Worker – DELETED
  • TF Social Share – REPLACED WITH DIGG DIGG
  • W3 Total Cache
  • WordPress Editorial Calendar – DELETED
  • WordPress SEO
  • Yet Another Related Posts Plugin – DELETED

Some plugins that have been added since this original setup:

  • Dashboard Luvvers Widget
  • Digg Digg
  • FV Gravatar Cache – To Speed Up WordPress
  • Meta Robot – Deactivated
  • P3 Plugin Performance Profiler – To Speed Up WordPress
  • Social Media Metrics
  • Viper Proof – Deactivated
  • WordPress Ping Optimizer
  • WP-DB Manager – To Speed Up WordPress
  • WP Smush It – To Speed Up WordPress

Speed Up WordPress by Optimizing My Database

I installed WP-DBManager to optimize my database.  I don’t know if this is the best plugin for this or not – but it certainly seemed to do the job for me. I like that I can get a backup of my database. I also like that it will run on a schedule to keep my database tidy.

SPEED UP WORDPRESS BASELINE RESULT CHANGES:

A few things holding me back in my efforts to speed up WordPress/optimize WordPress

Third-party plugins:

  • Some of these don’t have expirations in the headers
  • Some of these don’t have optimized images
  • Some of these don’t have minified files
I don’t know how hard these things are to do, since I don’t program. I just know that most of the things that fail on Page Speed and YSlow are third party program issues.
Things I may tackle later but not now:
  • Cookie free domain
  • Use CSS Sprites for my images
  • Try to get my grades higher in YSlow and Google Page Speed

If I do any of these things later to speed up wordpress I will let you know!

If you have any questions about what I did, please let me know in the comments!! Thank you so much!  Good luck in your efforts to speed up WordPress and I hope this helped! If you have any questions about what I did, please ask them in the comments!

If you appreciate this post, please let me know as well!

Mindy Koch
See My Entire Social Presence – http://xeeme.com/mindykoch
Mar 142012
 
Social Media Experiment

Social Media Experiment Update 5 – aka – “What is the social media experiment update after negligible social media interaction for several months?”

As you may have read in my last post, my personal life took an abrupt change in course on December 16th when my son begged me to homeschool him.  In order to add in such a huge, time-consuming, commitment into my life, I chose to back-burner this social media experiment until I could recapture more time.

Interestingly, just as calories impact your body whether you count them or not, I have discovered that the social media experiment rolls on whether or not I tend it.

This update is about what happened to my social media numbers between December 18, 2011 to March 01, 2012. In general, all of my numbers did better than I expected.  The rate of increase was much slower than it had been previously, but still, there was an increase in blog traffic, followers, fans and friends. The two metrics which showed the biggest decline were my “XeeMe” points and my Empire Avenue social media stock price.  Everything else pretty much held steady.  (In the past few days of social media activity, my XeeMe and Empire Avenue numbers are on an upward trend, as you will see in my social media experiment update on Friday.)

Frankly, I am pleasantly surprised by the results.  I am very curious to hear your opinions on a few things, so after you read this, PLEASE share a comment below about why you think I continued to have traffic and an increase in some of my social media metrics.

So here is the update:

This blog started on November 11. It has 9 11 posts currently.

There are 218 242 comments on the blog, 67 of which are my responses to comments.  175 comments are from blog visitors.

I have had 1427 2186 unique visitors and 536 816 returning visitors since Nov 1. A total of 1963 3002 visits.

Social Media Presence Change Since Dec 18

Thanks to Google Analytics and to TwentyFeet, I am able to see the traffic and my number of Twitter/Facebook followers on any particular day.  If you want to track your Twitter, Facebook Page and Profile, and YouTube followers, I strongly recommend TwentyFeet to track these and other social media site metrics.

This blog received 1242 visitors while I was gone.  Not an amazing number but still – more than I expected for an untended and non-promoted blog.

My Twitter followers increased by 18 followers.

My FB friends increased by 49 friends and my FB fans increased by 13.

Klout fell 6 points and my PeerIndex held steady.  XeeMe and my Empire Avenue stock both fell quite a bit.

I totally recognize that these numbers are completely unremarkable.  However, as I say that, I realize this blog was only a month-and-a-half old before I went on hiatus, and I was on hiatus for several months.  So, the fact that this blog got any traffic at all completely surprises me!

Where did this traffic come from?

Here is the breakdown of my top ten traffic sources:

So, there you have it, the social media update number 5. All in all, the numbers are much better than I feared. The experiment continues and I hope you will follow the journey. On Friday, March 16, I will post social media experiment update 6 with the numbers for Mar 1 to March 15.  Thanks for reading!

Below is the summary of social media experiment updates:

Nov-1 Nov-3 Nov-15 Nov-30 Dec-18 Mar-1
Twitter Followers 3,051 3,155 3,545 3,778 4,025 4,043
Facebook Friends 582 608 669 693 763 812
Facebook Fans 579 584 616 622 659 672
Visitors 0 78 814 1,172 1,963 3,002
Unique Visitors 0 34 579 845 1,427 2,186
Klout 51 51 51 57 59 53
PeerIndex 37 38 44 48 49 49
XeeMe PV 379 470 2,814 668 386 199
Empire Ave 106 107 107 101 112 80
Change
Followers +/- 104 390 233 247 18
Friends +/- 26 61 24 70 49
Fans +/- 5 32 6 37 13
Visitors +/- 34 545 266 582 759
Klout +/- 0 0 6 2 -5
PeerIndex +/- 1 6 4 1 0
XeeMe Pv +/- 91 2,344 -2,146 -282 -187
Empire Ave +/- 1 0 -6 12 -32
Total
Followers +/- 104 494 727 974 992
Friends +/- 26 87 111 181 230
Fans +/- 5 37 43 80 93
Visitors +/- 34 579 845 1,427 2,186
Klout +/- 0 0 6 8 2
PeerIndex +/- 1 7 11 12 12
XeeMe Pv +/- 91 2,435 289 7 -180
Empire Ave +/- 1 1 -5 6 -26
Mar 012012
 

Social Media Experiment Update 5-1: first the explaining, then the monkey resuscitating.

On December 16, my son came to me with a list of reasons justifying why he strongly felt the need to be pulled out of public school.  He begged me to please homeschool him.  I was not the least bit interested in adding homeschooling to my already full plate, but I promised him that his dad and I would look into the situation.

After a week of deliberating and investigating, we reluctantly concluded that he did need to be pulled from his school, and that I would homeschool him after the holidays end.  He’s in the 7th grade and we were genuinely fearful about adding such a grave responsibility on to our (mostly MY) shoulders.

Homeschooling completely threw my life out-of-order.  I started from scratch and dived in with gusto and determination.  Life dramatically went out of balance as my son and I experimented with what curricula worked for us and what didn’t.  Optional projects, such as this experiment, social media time, and a few other side projects fell to the wayside as I focused solely on my son’s homeschool and my paid client work.

I felt guilty and horrible about the lack of attention to the side projects, but also confident I would get a groove going and would add them back into my life as soon as I could. I continuously needed “one more day” to get my life in balance.

That changed when I decided to consider my monkeys.

A few days ago, I was reminded of a Ken Blanchard book I read a long time ago: The One Minute Manager Meets The Monkey. Brilliant little book, it is my favorite of the One Minute Manager series.  The general premise is that we all have responsibilities (projects needing the next step completed) on our backs.  Monkeys, if you will.  Often, we run around with “other people’s monkeys” and end up ignoring our own.

I pondered my situation and decided to take a pulse on my monkeys; I created a list I termed “Mindy’s Monkey Management”.

I listed the monkeys on my back:

My “Healthy” Monkeys:

My “Other People’s” Monkeys: <–quite a bit of my son’s homeschool and my parenting choices fell in this category.

My “Hungry” Monkeys:

My “Dying” Monkeys: <–This, of course, was where “Social-Drivers.com – a social media experiment” had to be listed.

I was at a crucible moment with my “dying” monkeys list.  I decided these monkeys either needed to die or thrive.  One or the other.

I realized that I LOVED this monkey (the social media experiment) and I wanted this monkey to thrive.  I needed to get rid of a lot of other monkeys so that I could properly feed and care for this poor, dying one.  I triaged my lists thoroughly.  I moved all the other people’s monkeys to their rightful owners and put some monkeys on a mostly automated feeder requiring a lot less work from me.

Now, I felt comfortable that I could resuscitate and care for this beloved monkey like I truly desired.

So, if my dear social media friends are willing to welcome me back, I would love to come back into your social media lives and to have you back into mine.