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WordPress plugin overload makes for a slow blog…especially on a shared server

WordPress wouldn’t be WordPress without plugins but they do have a tendency to slow up your blog especially if you over do it. So after reading an article by Blogging Pro entitled “Blogging Pitfalls: Plugin Purgatory” I decided to run a test using the suggested Pingdom site speed tester tool which runs a full spectrum scan of all your bits and pieces and breaks down each process to show you how long your page takes to load. It’s quite surprising what comes up, it did pinpoint certain plugins that were using more server resources than others. It also showed that jpgs were slowing the page load time as well as other widgets. Overall my speed test wasn’t too bad but improvements could be made.

Before I go on it’s worth pointing out that my plugin cutbacks are for my whole network, so there will be bigger cutbacks on certain sites but less here on WWAH since I get more traffic here and the plugins are in more demand. The whole exercise is to cut down on my server requests since it’s shared.

Worse Performers

I tested out WWAH and two other sites: I have to say that I take the results with a pinch of salt because everyone has a different broadband service so page load times will differ around the globe. But the worst performers in plugins were Max Banner Ads and ReviewAZON, this doesn’t surprise me that much since MBA rotates ads and ReviewAZON relies on pulling data from the Amazon API to update prices, so both these plugins will use more resources, in fact a while back I was inserting the AdSense code into MBA to rotate with other ads but the plugin couldn’t cope or should I say my server couldn’t cope causing it to max out or return code 500 errors, in other words my site was effectively down. Needles to say I reverted to placing the AdSense code back to their own spot.

Speed matters

If you keep up with currant SEO directives from the likes of Google then you know that page load time is taken more seriously now. The trouble with WordPress is that the developers keep designing new and better plugins that can handle all kinds of tasks to enhance your blog, so it’s very difficult to ignore especially if you don’t know how to code, why bother when there’s a plugin that can do the job on auto-pilot for you.

Time to slim down (WWAH)

Now it’s time to cut down drastically on my WordPress plugin addiction so where do I start? Well first of all I took a long hard look at what I really need and what I don’t need. The sharing plugins are the first to go, I mean let’s face it why do I need three different sharing methods for one post, after all I have the Apture sharing bar which uses Twitter, FaceBook and email for visitors to share. So out goes Topsy and WP FB Like Button, then I have the Share This widget which is part of the SEO Ultimate plugin (excellent plugin by the way) I will keep this on because I think most users look for a sharing button or widget that is at the bottom of the post rather than looking at the top of the page. All in all I cut out 6 plugins from WWAH, so far so good…now on to the rest of the network.

More unnecessary Waste (Network Wide)

Other  WordPress plugins to go are… email this, print this, maintenance mode, wp database, Twitter tools, All in one SEO, clean slugs, wp robot, Akismet, WP FB Like Button


  • Replacing “All in one SEO” with “SEO Ultimate” which handles clean slugs and robot meta data tasks and does a whole lot more (post on this at a later date)
  • The maintenance mode plugin is only used occasionally so can be re downloaded from the plugins admin page in an instant.
  • WP database isn’t needed as I do a weekly download from the server of all my SQL databases and back up to an external drive.
  • Email this and print this, I just don’t see the need for theses plugins on my whole network, only WWAH.
  • Twitter Tools replaced by TwitterSifu which does the same job with the added benefit of publishing older posts on a pre determined timestamp with Hashtags, also has URL Shortners which you can add your tracking code to. All this with one plugin as opposed to Twitter tools 4 plugins.
  • Akismet, replaced by WP SpamFree on the majority of my network although it needs to stay here on WWAH because I do get a lot of spam.
  • WP FB Like Button: since I have the FaceBook share button on the Apture bar this is a no brainer.

Round Up

It’s worth remembering to checkout every WordPress plugin before you install it on your blog as it may well cause a lot of damage if you don’t. There’s nothing worse than having to start all over again.

I have already seen a marked improvement over my network after this WP plugin cull but I always look to improve so no doubt I will be cutting out more plugins and streamlining my online real estate over time. A great way to speed up your blog is by using CDN (content delivery network) hosting services which can be hooked up to the W3 Total Cache plugin; it will cost you though…

Check out this article from SEOmoz

Whiteboard Friday - 7 Ways to Take Advantage of Google’s Site Speed Algorithm (Pop-Up Video Style)

If you have any thoughts on page load time improvement tips then share it with my readers.

Thanks’ for reading

1 comment to WordPress plugin overload makes for a slow blog…especially on a shared server

  • Laptop Briefcases

    Yes over time it is easy to let the number of plugins used get out of hand. A lot of them are slowing your site down though. For a good user experience it is important to keep page load time to a minimum. As mentioned, it is also important for SEO. So it’s no longer an excuse to just say that most of your visitors are on high speed connections.

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