How I Keep My Blog Load Speed To A Minimum

There’s nothing worse when you land on a site and it takes ages to load.

Let’s face it, we all lead busy lives and when it comes to blog load speed, fast is good; slow isn’t.

But how do you go about making sure your blog will load as fast as it possibly can?

With installing plugins and using third party services like Google Analytics it can be hard.

I’ve still managed to get my load times down to under 2 seconds currently though with over 20 plugins active.

Here’s what I’ve done to achieve that loading time.

Siteground



When I returned to hosting my site on WordPress, I chose Siteground.

In the past I moved away from shared hosting but so far, I’ve been impressed with the loading speed I can achieve using Siteground.

They have their own caching plugin called the Siteground Supercharger which helps to keep things ticking over.

When using their plugin you can avail of three levels of caching:

  • Static Cache – caches all static content such as images, CSS files and javascript;
  • Dynanic Cache – creates a copy of all of your website’s dynamic content and stores them in the server’s memory;
  • Memcached – speeds up database calls, API calls, and page rendering by storing data and objects in memory to reduce the number of times a database is queried.

If you’re using a different host, there are alternative caching plugins which I’ve successfully used in the past.

Caching Plugins

WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache is a popular free caching plugin that works well at speeding up your WordPress blog.

One of the best things about this plugin is it’s pretty easy to use.

You can use the recommended settings and you won’t go far wrong.

W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache is another free caching plugin designed to increase your website performance.

It offers more flexibility with the options you can update to tweak things to your liking.

In some ways it can be overwhelming unless you know what you’re doing or someone else has given you advice on which settings to use.

WP Rocket

WP Rocket is a paid WordPress caching plugin which is super easy to set up.

It has a number of features which you won’t find in the free plugins such as LazyLoad, defer javascript loading, Google fonts optimisation and DNS prefetching.

From my experience, it can help speed up your website a lot with very little effort needed to set things up.

Pricing starts at $39 for one site, which gives you one year of support and updates.

CloudFlare

As part of my hosting account with Siteground, I’ve added CloudFlare into the mix as well.

CloudFlare is a global network designed to improve website performance and security.

I’m currently using the free plan and that has a whole host of useful features.

Global CDN

Cloudflare have a number of centres throughout the world and that means they can move content physically closer to visitors.

That improves the performance and reduces load on web servers meaning a better experience for your visitors.

Minification Of Javascript, CSS and HTML

With the AutoMinify feature, you can get on the fly removal of unnecessary characters from HTML, CSS and Javascript.

It can save 20% of a files size and works without caching so it can support dynamic pages.

Railgun

Railgun is usually a paid enterprise option from Cloudflare but Siteground offer it as part of my hosting package.

It greatly speeds up non-cached web pages by ensuring that the connection between your web host and the Cloudflare network is as fast as possible.

It does this by only transferring changes to your non-cached content instead of the whole content each time.

Rocket Loader

Rocket Loader bundles all your javascript files together which minimises the number of network connections to your site.

That means even external javascript files have less of an impact on your blog load speed.

Threat Blocking

The free Cloudflare plan gives you basic DDoS protection which allows legitimate traffic to reach your site and blocks everything else before it gets to your server.

The protection is limited based on a DDoS attack’s disturbance to the Cloudflare network.

Cloudflare threat blocking also extends to:

  • deploying collective intelligence to identify new threats;
  • reputation-based threat protection;
  • comment spam protection;
  • content scraping protection.

Autoptimize

Cloudflare can help with minifying HTML, CSS and javascript but I also use the Autoptimize plugin as well.

Autoptimize concatenates all scripts and styles, minifies and then compresses them.

It doesn’t conflict with Cloudflare’s minification features so I use both.

Genesis Framework

I’ve tried quite a few WordPress themes in my time but I keep coming back to the Genesis Framework.

It’s never let me down in the blog load speed stakes. It has consistently been the fasted loading theme I’ve ever used.

I’m sure there are others equally as good but because I’ve tried and tested it, Genesis always gives me the best results.

PHP 7

I was a bit sceptical at first about upgrading from PHP 5.6 to 7.

Would it really give the improved performance in speed that people mention?

Or would it just give me a whole lot of trouble with incompatible plugins?

The first thing I did was to use the PHP Compatibility Checker plugin from WP Engine.

It checks your site for compatibility with PHP 7 and reports back any issues you might have before you upgrade.

I checked out the information it gave me and decided I could live without a couple of plugins if they caused me problems.

I went ahead and upgraded anyway. It was really simple with Siteground. I just did it through my cPanel.

To be honest I’m not sure whether I can actually see any benefits from using PHP 7.

But what I assume is that as it’s meant to be so much less memory intensive, things are running much smoother under the bonnet so to speak.

Resources

Siteground – web hosting service

Cloudflare – global CDN, threat blocking and website optimisation

Autoptimize – WordPress plugin concatenates and minifies scripts and styles

Genesis Framework – one of the best WordPress themes available

PHP 7 – latest version of scripting language used by WordPress

How Do You Keep Your Blog Load Speed Under Control?

Do you have any tricks up your sleeve to keep your site’s loading time down to a minimum?

Do you use any of the things I’ve mentioned or perhaps an alternative?

  • Sherman Smith

    Hey Tim,

    Thanks for sharing what you do to speed up your blog. I’m always open to looking for ways to speed up my site.

    Last time I checked my speed was at a whopping 6sec. This is not good and need some investigaton. I like to check look into autoptimize for sure.

    Thanks for the share! Have a good one!

    • Autoptimize works really well Sherman so it’s worth checking it out. It does sometimes require tweaking though depending on your set up. You can exclude specific scripts and/or CSS in the settings if they break when using Autoptimize.

      Currently depending where you are in the world mine is between 1 and 5 seconds but averages around 2. I’m sure I could do without some of the plugins I have installed.

      Let me know if you need any help with Autoptimize.

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