The Full Guide to Speeding Up WordPress

Or …

How I Made My WordPress Site 1,630% Faster.

Hopefully the headline caught your attention!

But it’s actually true. What follows is my journey from shared hosting to probably the best hosting option in the current marketplace.

Shared hosting is what all of us use when we’re getting started. And for years I didn’t know anything better existed!!

Well, I knew that there were dedicated servers and cool cloud companies like DigitalOcean and Amazon Web Services, but to be honest I don’t have skill and time to properly configure something like that.

Managing security and acceleration on a web server is not something you should take lightly – it takes skill to set that up well.

So if you’re like me … you are in for a treat!

When you first get started building websites, many people choose to host their sites on a single shared hosting account.

This is a really bad security risk, because if one of your sites gets compromised (bad password, insecure plugin, etc) then ALL of your sites are at risk.

The next better option is to sign up with a ‘reseller’ hosting account. This separates all of your websites into different accounts that can’t interact with each other.

When I started this journey I had signed up with ServerHub (<- there’s no link on purpose. Don’t ever go there!!). They offered a competitive reseller package, and since security is pretty important to me that’s the one I went with.

Much like all shared cPanel hosting, sometimes you get OK performance, and somethings things are just terrible.

I’m talking “10 seconds to load my home page” terrible.

And don’t even bother trying to load the page from anywhere outside the USA…!

I knew that I had to change something. I started looking around at other options.

Enter Cloudways

cloudways

Purely by chance, I came across the name ‘Cloudways’ in a Reddit post. Someone had done a full speed comparison between them and ServerPilot, another host I was considering moving to.

Based on that performance report I thought Cloudways was worth checking into, so I pull up the web site and …

ohyeah

OH YEAH. Look at these features!!!

I’m not kidding, click there and look, it’s like geek heaven!

They provide a management layer across all of the big cloud services:

  • Digital Ocean
  • Vultr
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Kyup

What this means is that you get all the benefits of the incredible cloud computing platforms, but don’t have to worry about server security, patching, backups, acceleration, etc. Leave that for the experts.

They use a set of acceleration technologies in front of your website that they call the THUNDERSTACK. (Awesome name right!)

Basically it just means that your website will be ridiculously fast, without you having to do anything at all.

Another HUGE plus for Cloudways is that they completely segregate each application into its own container. It’s much more secure than the reseller hosting, and a LOT easier to manage. Win-Win.

The server that I use is $9 a month and I run 18 websites on it. It’s the Vultr 768MB option. (They have an even cheaper $7 option from DigitalOcean if you like.)

Even with 18 websites running, it barely breaks a sweat. Here’s the graph of idle CPU over the last week (notice how it’s almost always 90-100% idle):

Idle CPU on Cloudways Vultr 768MB

And if I ever run into a situation where I suddenly get a ton of visitors to my site, I can set it to automatically scale up as needed.

Their back-end is incredibly easy to use … WAY easier than cPanel.

To set up HTTPS for your site it is literally one click:

One-click SSL install

This is so handy for anyone who wants to improve their Google rankings. SSL is basically a requirement on today’s web.

And remember when I said that I got 1,630% faster speeds? Well here’s the proof:

This is a speedtest for my travel blog. On my old hosting:

screenclip-55

Pay specific attention to the size of the page. 1.6MB.

Now here’s a test from my current Cloudways hosting, AFTER I have added a bunch more content! Have a look at the new page size … and the new speed! :-O

screenclip-54

Because of all the extra content I added, the page is 5.4MB – three times the size – but gotten faster by an enormous margin! And yes… I could do with trimming it down a bit…

Safe to say I am a happy customer. 🙂

They offer a free trial, so you’ve got nothing to lose giving it a go.

Hope you enjoy it!

Turn off hyphenation in InstaBuilder 2.0

I’m using version 2.1.6 as of writing this post, but it should work fine with any version.

You may have noticed some weird hyphenation issues with InstaBuilder. Inside the editor it all seems to be fine, and on the finished page in Chrome it all looks fine. But in Firefox (and possibly others), all your titles and paragraphs have some terrible hyphenation all through them.

I’ve put together a little guide on how to remove hyphens in InstaBuilder 2.x.

In the CSS that ships with IB, there are some strong hyphen and word-break rules. You can either override it in the wp-content/plugins/instabuilder2/assets/css/instabuilder2.css  file, or by using the per-page method below.

Using the below method will keep your changes after an InstaBuilder upgrade.

In the page with the hyphen issue, go into Settings and then Scripts/Codes.

Paste this into Head section:

That’s it! You’re overriding the out-of-the-box styles that cause the awful looking hyphenation.

Let me know if you run into any issues.

Force all requests to HTTPS on Cloudways

I found it a little difficult to get a proper HTTPS redirect working on Cloudways. All of the other mod_rewrite rules for checking non-SSL traffic seemed to end in a redirection loop.

This turns out the be the code that works:

Put that at the start of your .htaccess  file and you should be away.

Test it first without the  =301 on line 5, just in case you’ve done something wrong. Those permanent redirects will cache in your browser and can be a real pain!

Once everything looks like it’s working as it should, add the 301 back in there.

Optimising WordPress with a membership site

If you’re developing an affiliate marketing sale site, one of the problems you might run into is effective use of membership plugins.

There seems to be a conflict in outcomes. You have to pick one of these two (but not both!):

  • Fast site with good Page Rank
  • Working ecommerce sales

If you install caching plugins and optimise your pages for speed and Google Page Rank, you will almost certainly break your membership plugin.

So what to do?

Continue reading

How to integrate Sendlane with InstaMember and ClickBank

Getting the email addresses to flow through to Sendlane when someone purchases a product on your site doesn’t work out of the box.

I’m not sure what the exactly issues are, but I’ve found the default fields that Sendlane uses are not compatible with InstaMember.

When you put the autoresponder integration code into your product settings, you need to change the name of these two fields:

Notice what the “name” fields are for your two inputs. In my case they are  form_field[1]  and  form_field[3] .

InstaMember doesn’t like those, so change them to “name” and “email” respectively. “first_name” doesn’t work, I tried that one.

Integrating InstaMember with ClickBank and ConvertKit

This guide was written for v1.2.3, but should work for any 1.x version.

When a sale is made on ClickBank, it sends a notification to InstaMember using the IPN. That notification causes a member account to be made in InstaMember.

ClickBank also gives the customer a link to “Access your digital download”. This will successfully add the user to your ConvertKit subscribers.

However, there is a potential hole where a customer might ignore that link, and instead click on one of the links that InstaMember emails to them.

Continue reading