Last week I wrote about how to speed up your website using a CDN (content delivery network), but if you don’t want to spend a little extra money, there are plenty of other things you can do to increase the load time of your blog.
- Use small photos, or photos hosted on another server — One of the main culprits to slow a site down is waiting for images to load. Graphics can eat away at your bandwidth if they aren’t properly formatted, cropped and sized appropriately. Try to avoid PNG, BMP and other large formats and stick to JPGs. If you can, use GIFs for logos and other small graphics, but then go up to a JPG for a photograph. Try to keep each photo under 20 KB if you can, and it can drastically cut down on the load time for your visitors. If you have an account on Flickr, perhaps host them on there and then embed them into your posts. There’s even a WordPress plugin to help you do it.
- Cache your database — W3 Total Cache is the #1 recommended WordPress plugin for increasing the speed of your blog. It all begins with caching the database and other frequently used files. There’s very little configuration involved; you simply install it and you’re ready to go. W3 will take care of the rest and can increase the speed of your blog by up to 10 times. It also works easily with a CDN if you have one.
- Use an external ad server — Many bloggers like to host their private ads on their own server, which can eat up your resources if visitors have to wait for 5-10 images to load each time they visit your site. Consider using a free service like OpenX.org, which allows you to create an account and host as many ads as you want. You just upload your banners, configure your campaigns and copy/paste the code they give you. OpenX even supports rich media, so you don’t have to worry about configuring Flash files.
- Clean up your footer — Many people like to cram a lot of information into the footer of their website, such as blogroll links, widgets, graphics, etc. Reduce as much information as you can from your footer and simply have one line reading “Copyright (c) 2010 — Your Website Name.” It’s best to keep it nice and simple for both the reader and from a webmaster standpoint. Getting back to widgets for a second here, try to avoid them at all costs, not just in your footer. They can drastically cause strain on your site when trying to pull the information, even if they are hosted elsewhere.
There are plenty of other things you can do to increase speed, and I’ve only touched on a few of them here. Feel free to share your own tips in the comments section.
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