Can you believe – WordPress powers more than 34% of all websites on the internet, nearly 20 million sites, and those figures are still growing. WordPress is so popular that everyday 1000s of sites are built using WordPress. Many notable blogs, news magazines, media sites, Fortune 500 companies, and celebrities are using WordPress. e.g., Mashable and TechCrunch, The New York Times’ blogs and CNN’s on-air personality blogs all are built using WordPress
If you are using a wordpress site, here are some quick tips and tricks that will help you to use WordPress effectively. If you are new to WordPress, I hope these tips will guide you to make it easier to launch your new WordPress website.
I have written this article for beginners and those who have been using WordPress for a while. Here are ten tips that will make life easier for you
Caching is an intricate technology where complied output is temporarily stored and can be quickly accessed on request. Caching will make your website fast. Instead of compiling at every user request, stored data is returned to the user for browsing. Website speed is very vital to the success of your website. Your web pages have o load fast as people don’t like waiting. Typically a web page should load within 2 seconds or less, and 40% of the people will abandon a page that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
Let me explain how it works :
When a visitor visits your website and a request is sent to the server for download the page. At that time your WordPress runs a program, retrieves information such as your posts and other data using database queries, and a final HTML output is prepared, which is then presented to the user. Though the process is fast, it consumes a lot of time, memory, and computer resources when executed.
Fortunately, installing a caching plugin can help you to solve this problem. With caching plugins, the frequently-accessed data is temporarily stored in a cache or disk. So it will work like this. For the first time, the program will execute, and the output will be generated, which is then saved. But the second time, the program will not be executed, but instead, the cached output is retrieved quickly and presented to the user. It is thus saving a lot of time and resources. This process is called Caching.
WordPress is a dynamic content management system that fetches information from the database queries and runs several plugins before the web page is rendered. Caching will significantly improve the performance of WordPress and improve the load time as several steps are skipped. Instead of going through the entire page generation process every time, a copy of the page is loaded and served to every subsequent user.
If there was no caching at all, then WordPress would have to run several instances, database queries to generate the final HTML page and this will happen every single time a user visits your site. But thanks to caching and modern browsers, browser caching ensures users returning to visit your web pages will be able to access your content faster.
There are three popular Caching Plugin available for WordPress, namely WP_Rocket, W3 Total Cache, and WP Super Cache.
It does an excellent job and optimizes your website to load faster and quicker. It also has several optional features like lazy loading of images, DNS pre-fetching, etc.
W3 Total Cache
WP Super Cache
WP Super Cache is a popular alternative to the W3 Total Cache plugin. It is available free of cost, and from the review, it is highly recommended by experts. It supports page cache, gzips compression, cache pre-loading, and CDN. It is easy to set up and user-friendly.
When you create images in Photoshop or use Camera photos, the file size of those images often are huge, usually a couple of MB. This is because the photos are stored in a high-resolution format and a larger dimension. If you load the same files on the website, your website will run very slow.
We need to optimize those images for the web before uploading them to the website. Optimizing your pictures means saving the file in a web-friendly format, in the right dimensions, and also using compression to reduce file size. e.g., a 1MB image file will be optimized and resaved as a 50K file.
If you speed tests your website in GT Metrix or Pingdom, it will give you a detailed file size of all the images. You will see that a large chunk of downloaded data consists of images. More than 50% of the data downloaded are images. You need to optimize the images and resize them to use the right dimension and web format.
I have to mention that the maximum pixel size of any image should not be more than the 1920 px width and 1000px height. Smaller size images will be smaller in dimension. But camera photos are usually more than 4000px x 4000px. Uploading images of 1MB+ should be completely avoided, and the images take a long time to download and render. There are a lot of images in a websites, hence optimizing images for the web will help you to reduce your page load size by up to 60%.
JPG is one of the best options for a file format that significantly reduces file size, and it is compatible with all browsers and software programs. PNG is another format but used only for a specific purpose where you need to have a transparent background. GIF is used for small animations or icons etc.
There are also several online tools available so that you can optimize the images without losing the quality of the photos. Meaning the file size of the image is reduced without any noticeable loss in image quality.
Follow these steps to optimize images for the web:
- The filename of the images should be descriptive and readable
- Choose the correct dimensions for your image. If the image box is small, then use a smaller size image or thumbnail image.
- Use tools like https://tinyjpg.com/ to reduce your image files. They also have a WordPress plugin, which will automatically reduce the file size. I recommend this tool.
- Use JPG as the default file format. Use PNG only if required.
- Use CDN if necessary.
- Add the correct Alt tags.
3. Premium Hosting and CDN
A good host is critical for a successful website. Cheap hosts cannot deliver optimum performance and quality that WordPress requires. There are numerous hosting companies that you can use.
4. Remove unwanted Plugins
WordPress has a plugin architecture that allows you to install third-party plugins for more features. Not only does it allow you to add more functionality, but it also helps you to customize WordPress to meet your needs. People tend to add a lot of plugins to solve all their problems. The WordPress site is then bloated and slow to render.
You need to remove a plugin that are not used or are not required. Your site will be faster and will not curtail any unnecessary processes.
5. Quality Theme - OceanWP, BeaverBuilder, DIVI, Elementor
You need to select a good quality responsive theme for your WordPress website. Your options are divided into paid and free themes. Paid themes have a lot of features and an excellent Web Page builder. A theme like Elementor and Hello Elementor offers the best option for a quality idea.
You also have OceanWP, BeaverBuilder and DIVI (which has just released 4.0) have a lot of configurable options for the theme, to help you to customize your theme to suit your needs.
Avoid bad quality themes that have too much-bloated code, which makes the theme run slow and not mobile-friendly. They may have a lot of configurable options, but it allows you to do nothing. Most ready-made templates cannot be customized entirely to get the design you want. There are tens of thousands of themes out there for you to select.
One of your best resources for the template is the WordPress theme directory and ThemeForest.net. Sites like Themeforest.net have more than 40,000 themes to select from. Though all are paid, they are reasonably priced and excellent support.
Most template designers’ sites have live demos of themes, where you get a chance to preview the theme and get an idea of the look and feel of a theme.
6 Security Plugins - Sucuri, Wordfence
Security is always a priority once the site is completed. You have secure your website to make sure that no one can hack into the site, upload malware, and inject malicious code. You need to install a Firewall that will block brute force login attempts and other intrusions. Wordfence is such a plugin that is a top-rated security tool. It is easy to set up and also has a scanner for scanning for viruses and vulnerabilities.
7. Google Analytics
Visitor Analytics is essential to gauge the performance of the website. It shows you which pages are visited the most and from which source is the traffic coming from. It shows how well your site is doing and what you can do to improve the traffic.
Google Analytics is free, and you can register for it at the Google Website. You can then install a Google Analytics free plugin to integrate the website with the Analytics software.
8. Responsive Checking, Speed Optimization
The website speed makes the first impression about your business. It’s essential to understand that you won’t get a second chance when it comes to user experience. Low website speed is one of the most frustrating things that will turn people off about your resource.
Before starting your website speed optimization you should determine your current loading time and define what slows your site down. Then you should set your website performance goals.
9. SEO - Yoast
SEO is the most crucial activity after the website is live. If you want your website to be ranking on the top in Google, then site optimization and keyword stuffing is a must. By adding meta tags and keywords into the body of the content, SEO helps search engines to correctly analyze the information on the website and rank it for those keywords. Pay a great deal of attention to Header (h1, h2) tags, ALT tags, meta titles, and descriptions, filename, and internal links, and make sure they contain your keywords. You can also add 301 redirects from old url to new urls.
Do not forget to add a sitemap, HTML, and XML. You can use a free WordPress Yoast plugin that will help you to SEO optimize your site. Yoast not only allows you to configure the meta tags but also enables you to analyze the content for specific keywords. It is an excellent plugin that is unrated and unutilized. Yoast has a paid option also that has premium features.
Without a correct SEO strategy, your WordPress site won’t get much organic traffic.
10. Backup Plugins
If your server crashes anyday, then you will lose all your website files and data that you have worked on for so many years. Backups help you to recover websites without any hassle.
Unfortunately, WordPress is also one of the most hacked CMS in the world today. It is a favorite target of cybercriminals. It is scary, but as a site owner, you have to take all the steps to secure your site. Taking periodic backups will ensure that in case there is a hack, you have a backup to restore from.
No software is 100% secure and free of vulnerabilities. All platforms have some security issue that has not been discovered yet. You can install a security plugin and a firewall to keep away hackers, but there are still chances that your site can be hacked.
In such scenarios, you need to install a WordPress backup plugin that will take file and database backups at regular intervals. Backup