WordPress – it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t heard about this increasingly popular content management system. Unfortunately, while it’s (rightfully) praised for its ease of use and beginner-friendliness, it’s also well-known for being resource-hungry. One could say that convenience often comes at the necessary cost. Luckily, there are ways in which you can stabilize its CPU usage – and even speed up your website, improving your visitors’ user-experience. What are the most effective ways of doing that? Here are eight hand-picked ideas!
Avoid Fancy Designs and Unnecessary Technical Gimmicks
The first, and, in my opinion, the most obvious way of stabilizing WordPress CPU usage is getting rid of all the unnecessary gimmicks and the fancy options it offers. Believe me, you don’t need all those cool-looking add-ons on your site. Not only do they slow down your web property (and, quite often, tend to be unstable) but can also harm your business. How?
For example, let’s take a look at sliders. Many authorities in the online marketing world agree that you should ditch sliders altogether. The names include Yoast, a company behind one of the most popular SEO plugins and ConversionXL, one of the most respected blogs on conversion optimization in the industry. This is because a slider is proven to harm your conversion rate by distracting your visitors and distorting your UVP (Unique Value Proposition). Instead of trying to make your site fancy, it’s better to make it fast and focused on the right message.
Go over the List of Your Website Plugins Carefully
But it’s not just the technical addons that are visible which can harm your website performance and spike CPU usage through the roof when you least expect it. Sometimes what’s most resource-demanding is hidden behind the scenes. That’s why it’s good to review the list of your plugins regularly.
You can also disable them one by one and test your site’s performance and verify CPU usage when they are turned off. If any of the plugins are badly optimized, this test will show you which you need to get rid of or replace.
Optimize Your Images
The third element that commonly harms your WP site performance and leads to usage spikes are images (especially the heavy ones). While they are not directly related to WordPress as a whole, if you don’t optimize them, they will demand their share of resources, leaving less for WordPress to operate properly.
Luckily, it’s very easy to optimize them, reducing their size. Just head over to kraken.io or tinypng.com and upload the images you want to reduce in size. And if you’d prefer to have it all automated inside WordPress, you can use a plugin such as Smush. Just keep in mind that you are adding one more extra plugin to the CPU usage.
Get a CDN
Another way of reducing the CPU power that you need and avoiding spikes is a CDN – Content Delivery Network. By using it, certain static files on your site (such as images or videos) are loaded from external servers, leaving more power for your beloved CMS. Naturally, while a CDN helps speed up WordPress indirectly, it’s a very effective way of preventing usage spikes caused by visitors coming from different parts of the world.
This is because its servers are usually spread around the world, much closer to the location of some of your visitors than your main server what reduces the usage of both its bandwidth and hardware resources and prevents load spikes.
Clean Your Databases Regularly
The next element of your WP site that can severely impact its performance and make it unstable are databases. And it’s not just the WP database that you should take care of. Many plugins, especially those that collect data about your visitors grow over time and require regular cleanups.
The downside is, to take the full advantage of this step you need to access phpMyAdmin and know how to execute simple SQL queries (or at least be savvy enough to follow instructions available on the Internet). Luckily for those who don’t want to touch any of that, there are WordPress plugins that can do the job for them. Just remember to disable them once you’re done so they don’t impact your site speed.
Use A Caching Plugin
Taking care of your database is not the only way in which you can use plugins to boost your website performance and stabilize CPU usage. One extra thing which you can do is get a caching plugin. That way, instead of generating content dynamically each time a particular visitor enters your website, the plugin will create a static version of every webpage that they visited.
Thanks for that, the next time they come to your website, they will see the cached version (unless they come from a different browser or clear their browsing history) and your WP site will require a lot less power to handle their visit. The most popular caching plugins (some of them allow you to clear your site’s database too) include W3 Total Cache, WP Fastest Cache, WP Rocket, WP Super Cache, and Autoptimize. And what if you want to update your site and ensure that your visitors don’t miss the changes? Most of the time, you can delete the cache in one click.
Make Sure Your Hosting Is Optimized Properly
One big and often underestimated fact that can have a huge impact on your WP site’s stability is the hosting that you use. This is true especially for the low-end shared hosting packages, which often work so badly that it’s hard to even use the WordPress dashboard. What can you do to prevent that?
The good news is, while you should stay away from the cheapest shared hosting packages, you don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars for a good package either. Instead, you can get an affordable hosting that has its configuration optimized for WordPress like Hostinger. Because, as said earlier, WP is popular but not perfectly optimized, making sure that your server includes things such as GZIP compression or NGINX Caching can help you provide people who come to your website with a quality experience during their visit.
Use Quality Themes – And Get Them from The Developer Only!
The last, but definitely not the least important way to ensure that your website is functioning properly and does not experience any random, hard-to-trace usage spikes is using high-quality themes and plugins. Even though there are many free themes you could use, it’s best to invest in a premium one which is usually much better optimized than anything you will find for free.
Naturally, make sure that you purchase it from a reliable source – preferably, straight from the person or company who developed it and can provide you with the necessary support. Never, no matter how safe it seems, download premium themes from third-party websites.
You never know what’s inside the code, and such “hidden surprises” could be used to take over your website or your customers’ data. And this would cost you a lot more than the little money you need to spend to get a theme or plugin from the developer.
Just Get Started
While the above list can sound complicated, neither (maybe with the exception of #5) of the ideas requires any technical knowledge. What matters is to get started – you don’t have to hurry up. Take your time and implement the ideas one by one by one.
Of course, these are not the only ways which you can use to “tame” WordPress power usage spikes. But, if you implement them all, you will be able to speed up your site, stabilize the CPU usage and, most importantly, provide your website visitors with a great user experience.