If you’ve been here over the last few month, you’d noticed the many changes that this blog has gone through. We’ve changed domain providers, switched web servers, switched host providers, changed WordPress themes and WordPress caching plugins. All of these steps and changes were done to improve tour website performance.
In this blog post, I am going to detail some of the changes in this post so that those who want to get the same results could apply them to their environments. These change were partly due to Google Panda algorithm negatively impacting on our site. Google Panda affected us badly and reduced web traffic to this blog by more than fifty percent (50%).
Everything I am going to talk about today may not apply to everyone or all environments. Although these changes have shown some positive trends in our Google traffic to our site, it’s not guarantee that your website will also benefit after applying them. It worked for us and may work for you as well.
We’ve improved loading time on all of our pages by more than few seconds. We’ve also improved our site speed greatly resulting in increased Google Bots activities with more pages being crawled in less time.
With the above results, we’re finally paused all new changes to the site, except to update and apply security patches. We’re very pleased with out results which will we’ll detail below.
- Switching Web Server
One thing we noticed earlier while improving this website was how often the site would gone down and stop responding to visitors. Sometimes twice a week the site would stop responding for few minutes. Other times, only by rebooting the server will bring Apache2 back up.
At that time we’re running WordPress on Apache2. Apache2 is a great web server, but the way we used it didn’t work in our environment like the way we wanted it to work so we decided to switch to Nginx web server.
After migrating to Nginx web server and optimizing our environment with the best Nginx configurations, our website performance improved a bit without adding additional resources.
For more about switching and using Nginx Web server on your blog, please so a search on for Nginx using the box here. More good resources about Nginx will display.
- Switching Host Provider
The next step in our endeavor was switching our host provider. Our blog was hosted for over two years on 1and1. 1and1 provided us with a virtual dedicated server with 4 CUP cores, 8GB Memory, 100GB Bandwidth and 500GB storage for around $80 per month.
For the above resources, we were paying about $80 which wasn’t bad at that time. In fact, this setup was the cheapest around, better than G0Daddy and other providers.
So, Nginx with 1nad1 virtual dedicated server were better but we weren’t satisfied. We thought we could do mere. At this time our pages were probably loading at around 5 seconds or little more.
Seeking better setup, we switched to Google Compute Engines. To read more about our switch to Google Compute Engines, read this post.
After switching to Google Compute, our pages loading time improved a bit. If you read the post on switching to Google Compute, you’ll see how by switching, Google bots were able to crawl more pages in a short time than previously.
Our page speed also improved to under 3 seconds. The best part about switching to Google Compute engine is our bill has been cut in half than what we were paying to 1and1.
Now we only pay for what we used. If our traffic increase, so will our bill. If our web traffic decrease so will our bill. Right now, we’re paying about $44 per month with improved performance.
- Switching WordPress Themes and Plugins
You may not get better results if your WordPress theme is bloated and have tons of WordPress plugins installed. That’s why we chose a lightweight, responsive and simple theme.
Some WordPress themes are so bloated with so much codes that using them will negatively impact your website performance. Before you deciding to go with a WordPress, make sure it’s simple, lightweight and optimized for performance.
For our site, we chose to go with this WordPress F2 Theme.
With the theme decision settled, we also decided to switch from W3 Total Cache to WP Super Cache to WP-FFPC Cache.
The reason we switched to WP-FFPC is it’s fully compatibility with Nginx web server. Unlike WP-FFPC, W3 Total Cache and WP Supper Cache don’t support Nginx officially.
There are some tweaks one can do to get them to work with Nginx but our test shows that with WP-FFPC and Nginx, our performance improved better than both W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache.
Our setup uses Memcached as a backend caching server.
Including those two themes, we also run WordPress SEO, Akismet, VaultPress and two other WordPress plugins. So you see, we don’t run too many plugins here.
- We Switched To Google Domains
After switching to Nginx web server, Google Compute Engine, WP-FFPC Cache and lightweight WordPress theme, we decided to switch to Google Domains.
The main reason we switched to Google Domains was that it offers free private registration, security and because it’s Google owned. We normally take advantage of services offer by Google, just because they’re offer by Google and no other reasons.
Switching to Google Domains didn’t register any improvement gains. If there were any, it may have been small.
With optimized Nginx setup, Google Compute Engine, Google Domains, WP-FFPC Cache Plugin, lightweight WordPress theme and fewer WordPress theme in all, we’ve greatly improved our website performance for half the price.
Lower cost, improved performance, and happy visitors as well as Google bots, it’s win-win-win-win solution. We love what’s we’ve done and now we can focus on blogging and bringing our audience the best tutorial online today.
Now to forget, we also implemented HTTPS or HTTP over SSL to make Google happy. We just beginning to see some improvements with respect to Google organic traffic. More people are coming from Google to our site since implementing these changes. We’re hopping for better days.