How I Doubled a Site’s Speed in Under 10 Minutes

Aug 16, 2011   //   by Ty Banfield   //   internet marketing, SEO Blog  //  9 Comments

Slow Turtle

Recently, a friend asked me to take a quick look at his site. My friend wanted to know if there was any way he could speed up his site.

Before logging into his WordPress Dashboard to browse around, I used to look up what company is hosting his site. Although I discovered it’s a hosting company with a reputation for being slow, I knew he didn’t want to deal with moving to a new host.

I used WebSitePulse to run an initial speed test. After verifying his site’s response time was on the slower end of the spectrum, I logged into his WP Dashboard.

I decided to see how many plugins he was running. I was shocked to discover he had over 40 active plugins!

At first, I couldn’t even imagine how he had taken the time to install and activate this many plugins. However, a quick email to him revealed that his website had been built by a “professional WP development company.”

In reality, this company justified jacking up its price by doing a mass installation and activation of a bunch of unnecessary plugins.

Since I was helping my friend as a quick favor, it didn’t make sense for me to manually review each and every plugin. Instead, I decided to go for the low hanging fruit.

How to Use Firebug to Identify Slow WordPress Plugins

To identify the main culprits, I fired up Firebug in Firefox. I proceeded to:

  • Click the Net tab
  • Load his website
  • Because no data showed up, I reloaded his website

Reloading the website gave me a visual breakdown of how long each element of his site took to load.

As I expected, there were several elements that took a significant amount of time to load. Specifically, I was able to match each of the three slowest elements to a plugin.

After deactivating those plugins, I ran a second speed test. The result? My friend’s site loaded twice as fast.

If you’re wondering which plugins were responsible, they were:

  • Zemanta
  • ShareThis
  • Sphere

If you think one or more plugins are bogging down your site, you can use this method to test and resolve your issue in less than ten minutes.

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Ty Banfield

Ty Banfield is a freelance writer. Over the past five years, he's written on almost every topic under the sun. While variety is the spice of writing life, marketing and fitness are the two topics he never grows tired of exploring. He also provides business website development, marketing and conversion consulting that helps businesses attract more customers.

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  • Kaila S says:

    Page load speed has become such an important factor. Examination of plugins on your site and getting rid of the heavy to load is an easy fix, but one many website owners don’t do. Great info here, thanks for sharing.

    • Tyler B. says:

      You’re welcome. Google has made it clear that page speed matters to them. Plus, no one wants to sit around waiting for a blank page to load.

  • I am using over 60 plugins active on my site, but I did manage to increase my speed by 60% just by using MaxCDN which was much faster than Cloudflare for me.

  • David Leonhardt

    Very nice. I have my share of plugins, but I cannot imagine 40 of them. And I am glad that I don’t have any of those three.

    • Gerald Weber

      Awhile back I went a little “WP plugin crazy” :-p so to speak. I mean every time I saw a new plugin that was kind of cool I’d just install it LOL.

      Then I realized this was causing my site to load slow and while some of them are necessary for some functionality they certainly weren’t all necessary.

      Once I launched the new site I cut back on them even more. Currently I’m sitting at 19 plugins and I’m going to do my best to keep it there.

      • Tyler B. says:

        It’s kind of like iPhone apps; fun to download a ton at first, but you quickly realize only a handful are worth keeping.

    • Tyler B. says:

      Of the three, I personally disliked Zemanta the most. The fact that it was adding its logo and backlink to every post where my friend used it was a little too aggressive for my taste.

  • The best thing you can do for your WordPress blog is install (correctly, according to your webhost’s settings) WP-Super Cache.