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

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.

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
  • ManageWP Worker – DELETED
  • 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.


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
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