WordPress Speed Optimization – 3 secrets

by Nov 9, 2019

 Wordpress Speed Optimization – 3 secrets

The more, the merrier

Although there are a host of WordPress add-ons that claim to fix WordPress speed issues and rocket your site speed, the truth is that none of them is good at everything.
I have spent hundreds of hours working with almost every single one of them, and I can say from experience that the trick to true speed optimization is to use several of them all at once, even if they complain they are not compatible.

The trick is to use each one for its strengths. Enable only that part of the addon that it is good at and disable the rest. Unfortunately, there are so many options that unless you know what you are doing it is going to cause problems.

Minification nonsense

I saw an interesting comment yesterday, and I have never thought about it before. We spend a lot of time worrying at optimizing the size of the HTML, javascript and CSS by minifying it. Why do we do that? Supposedly to reduce the size of the data that needs to be sent to the user’s browser. But did we all forget something? GZIP! If you did an excellent job you enabled gzip compression, by its nature gzip compresses the heck out of any text. So we spend a lot of time trying to get the minification to optimal sizes while not breaking any functionality, but why are we doing it? I believe its simply because the folks that wrote the code for Google Pagespeed, GTMetrix and other tools we use did not think it through. Am I wrong? What are the reasons for it? They put it tests that check the size of HTML, javascript and CSS with no regard for the fact that gzip already compress it before its event sent to the user. So the tests should instead focus on the time it takes to parse and interpret the code and identifying unused code, than the size of it. If you disagree, I would like to hear your reasoning in the comments.
What does Google actually use when it ranks SERPS? I have a feeling they are using the data one sees in Google Analytics Site Speed / Page Timings. So it is based on browser timing data from sessions on your website, but it is only based on a sample that defaults to 1%. So only 1 in every 100 visits is counted, sorry for you if that was a client on a slow connection with an old PC, or it that access was after you just updated our site and cleared caches. It may be worth adjusting the siteSpeedSampleRate if your site is not that busy.

Cacheing!

Do you know how many types of caching there are that can affect site speed? I bet you don’t. I will list them quickly (and I am sure I am going to miss some, so let me know in the comments what I forgot)
Read ahead disk caching (done by disk subsystem)
In memory file cache (done by the operating system page & buffer cache)
MySql data caching (done in MySql itself)
Opcode cache (compiled PHP code and other data)
WordPress page caching (done by a WordPress addon)
Object caching (done by the webserver)
CDN Cache (done by the content delivery network)
Browser caching (done by your web browser)

That is eight types of caching, and we often refer to caching and do not specially say what we mean. So you can imagine how many settings there are behind all of those can affect things. Unless you are on a dedicated server, you are probably only going to be able to tune the last 4 of those.

Conclusion

While simply installing one plugin to fix your speed issues seem like a logical way to solve things, until one plugin can manage to do everything well, the reality is it is not perfect and can’t even tune some of the lower level hosting and operating system parameters. Even the tools we use to do this testing and that Google supposedly uses to check speeds have flaws in them. Site speed is, however, undoubtedly a major factor in search engine rankings, not only due to speed affecting rankings but also due to a slow site’s affect on bounce rates.

 

Anthony Walker

Anthony Walker

Anthony is a Digital Marketing and SEO Expert with extensive experience. He has worked for financial services companies and web hosting business and in those roles has created many very successful online business and brands. He has a wide range of Business, Marketing, Financial and IT experience.

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