It’s not super fun to talk about security — it’s like insurance. You don’t like dealing with it/paying for it, but when you need it you are so grateful that you have it in place.
Which is why we aren’t going to talk about security right now, instead we are going to look at ways to make your WordPress site even faster. But spoiler alert, these site speed tips will also help your site be more secure.
So you’ll see direct benefits in your site load time (speedy sites are more likely to keep folks engaged on them) and have done work to keep your site that much safer from hackers.
1. Remove or replace old plugins
We all do it — install a plugin thinking it’s going to solve the problem you’re having only to realize it’s not easy to use, you hate the style of it or something else that causes it to not be used.
There’s no harm in trying plugins. But did you deactivate and remove the plugin you aren’t using anymore? If not, it’s time to clear out the plugin clutter.
Once you’ve removed plugins that you simply aren’t using, the next batch to tackle are those painfully old plugins. I’m talking ones that haven’t been updated in ~14 months or more.
To figure out which ones need to be replaced, log into your site dashboard and head to Plugins > Installed Plugins. You’re now going to go down the list and click on all of the active plugins that say “View details” to see the pop-up details. In that window, you’ll see “Last Updated:” with details as to when the plugin was updated. Make a note of any that haven’t been updated in a year or more.
For any plugins that say “Visit plugin site” instead, you can head to the plugin site to figure out when the plugin was last updated — but typically these are plugins that you pay for and plugin creators that are making money from their products are more likely to keep plugins fresh.
Armed with your list of outdated WordPress plugins, figure out what you can simply remove vs what you need to replace. If you need to replace it, find the replacement first before clearing out the plugin.
Why do you want to go through these steps?
For a few reasons. First, outdated/not fresh plugins are less likely to work flawlessly with updated themes and WordPress installations. That means your beloved related post plugin might be doing way more harm than good. Second, outdated plugins are security risks because they could have vulnerabilities that weren’t patched or issues that hackers know how to target. And finally, outdated plugins keep your site from being the best it can be. Newer plugins tend to have better features, are formatted for the latest Instagram logo (assuming they don’t change that again) and take advantage of updates made within WordPress to make your job as site owner even easier.
By clearing out unnecessary plugins, you are speeding up your site because there is less stuff trying to work behind the scenes. And by using the latest and greatest, you are more likely to take advantage of better coding that is more conscious of speed and page load times. All while keeping your site secure.
2. Use a well-coded theme
Just like well-coded plugins have an impact on your WordPress site’s speed, themes do too. In fact, themes typically have more to do with your site speed (especially if your images are a part of your theme instead of added to the page using the WordPress editor.)
How do you know what themes are good? Pick one from a well-known developer, like the ones you find on the Coded Creative site. You can also turn to reviews or read the most recent support notes on any theme before installing/purchasing it.
And while you’re at it, clear out any themes you aren’t using. Only keep your current theme, a parent theme (if your theme is a child theme) and up to one default WordPress theme for troubleshooting.
This will keep your site safe by clearing out poorly coded themes that provided access through vulnerabilities and speed it up by keeping clutter off your server.
3. Update WordPress
The team behind WordPress is always doing what they can to make the platform even better. And that means they are releasing updates a handful of times a year that are valuable to you as an online entrepreneur.
Running the recent WordPress updates will make sure you have the newest features (the recently repurposed text toolbar is pretty slick) and a more secure site. If running WordPress updates scares the yoga pants off of you, check out this post for a step-by-step guide on how to do it without crashing your site.
Alison Monday of tiny blue orange
Alison Monday is a responsive WordPress developer, host + support system for online entrepreneurs. She’s fixed / maintained / built / improved online presences for dozens of amazing clients over the last 9 years.