Guide for Optimizing Your WordPress Site

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Complete Guide for Optimizing Your WordPress Site

While WordPress can be an amazing tool for easily managing and updating any type of website, one of the major downfalls is that it can be easy to forget to do any maintenance. Saying that one of the biggest downsides to WordPress is its ease of use may seem a bit absurd, but with such a smooth and intuitive platform, the most likely issues you’ll experience are those that slowly build up over time.

A routine maintenance schedule is one of the best ways to keep your WordPress site running efficiently, and knowing how to get rid of unwanted clutter is actually a relatively straight forward process. Here are a few tips on making sure that your WordPress website is working exactly as intended.

Start by Backing Up

One of the easiest ways to ensure your data stays safe is to back it up. And one of the easiest methods of storing your data in a safe location is to use the Snapshot plugin. Using your dashboard plugin, find and activate Snapshot. After you get it running, you’ll be able to choose backup folder locations, memory limits, and even segment sizes to avoid timing out your website.

If you’re not a fan of Snapshot or simply want a different option, VaultPress and ManageWP are two more plugins for your WP site that offer a wide variety of other functions, but backing up is the most important here.

Plugin Management

If you’re always tinkering with your WordPress website trying to find just the right look or plugin configuration, chances are you have an abundance of extra plugins sitting around unused.

Looking at your plugin management menu, you’ll be able to see plugins separated by status. You’ll find both active and inactive groups, which is a pretty easy indicator of what you can drop and what you might want to keep. Your database space is limited here, so removing unwanted and inactive plugins is a great first step on the road to a more efficient WordPress site.

If you’re not bogged down with plugins or concerned about the resources they’re taking up, there are plenty more options for cleaning up.

A Hands On Approach With SQL Commands

Using SQL commands should be a staple of anybody who knows their way around a WordPress site, but for those who don’t know here is a quick run down.

You should have your username and password on hand, and if not you can access them via your wp-config.php file. They’ll be pretty clearly labeled on lines 5 and 7.

Once you have your password and username situated, it’s time to login to the phpMyAdmin control panel. Find the database you’re looking to clean up, and click on the SQL tab on the top. This will allow you to perform queries, or searches for specific types of data stored on the database that you can remove.

Plugin Cleanup
Assuming that you cleared a few inactive plugins, there will still be information left over that the plugins didn’t take with them. This is normal with any software installation, and simple enough to remove. The query for removing old plugin data is:

Delete from wp_postmeta where meta_key = ‘your_meta_key_here’;

while replacing your_meta_key_here with your actual meta key.

Deleting Spam
Deleting spam is another simple SQL query you can perform that will delete any comment marked as spam. The query is:

Delete from wp_comments where comment_approved = ‘spam’;

Old Post Cleanup
If your WordPress site has been around for long you may have an abundance of old posts that never get any views, don’t generate traffic, and take up space. Be wary of deleting content that you think may ever have value, even after doing a backup. Losing potentially valuable information is never a good thing, so be sure that you intend to delete them forever.

The query for deleting old posts is:
1 Delete from `wp_posts`
2 Where `post_type` = ‘post’
3 and Datediff(now(), `post_date`) > NumberOfDays

The 1, 2, & 3 on the side aren’t intended to be included in the actual query, just indicators of each line as you would find in your SQL database. And the NumberOfDays can be replaced by the actual number of days that you want to delete posts prior to. For clarification, if you want to delete posts that are older than one year old, you can enter 365 instead of number of days.

Optimizing Tables
One of the nice things about WordPress is its intuitive layout and easy access to basic tools, one of which is the optimize table option. Found in phpMyAdmin, you can click on the database, look on the bottom of the page that pops up on the right side, and click the “Check All” box. Grab the drop down menu and select optimize table, and your WordPress site will automatically start sorting and optimizing the data for faster retrieval.

Keep in mind that this process doesn’t require you to hit a “go” or “start” button, and if you have a larger site it might seem like the entire thing has frozen. Be patient, the process can take some time before you eventually see a message saying that you’re in the clear.

WordPress Maintenance Plugins

If you’re not inclined to set up a regular maintenance schedule to optimize the power of your website, you can always look to plugins for a solution. There are a wide array of plugins intended to help optimize, clean up, and organize your WP databases, so finding the right one might be tricky. Here are a few examples to help get you on the right track.

WP-Optimize – WP-Optimize is one of the most popular WordPress cleanup plugins around. With a laundry list of features from cleaning up excess post storage in the form of auto drafts and trashed comments to a detailed breakdown of your database statistics, this plugin really is as close to an all in one as you can get. One of the best features of WP-Optimize is the display of how much space you have free in your database, and how much of that space can get cleaned up. It also doesn’t require your phpMyAdmin to keep things clean, so if you’re concerned about privacy and security you can rest easy.

Clean Up Optimizer – Very similar to WP-Optimize, Clean Up Optimizer is a great plugin for keeping your WordPress page clean and fast. By deleting excess data created after posts and table changes, Clean Up Optimizer can help you make sure that you don’t have any more data stored than is absolutely necessary to run your site. This plugin also doesn’t need access to your phpMyAdmin, meaning it’s another peace of mind plugin that you can safely use on an automated schedule.

Plugin Performance Profiler (P3) – P3 is a neat little tool that really goes above and beyond to find new ways to keep your WordPress site clean. In a nutshell, it measures the impact other plugins have on the load times of your website, giving you a clear picture of what will hinder performance the most. With an accurate depiction of what plugins are using more resources than you may deem necessary, you can decide what plugins stay and what plugins can safely be deleted.

WP-DBManager – WordPress Database Manager is a great tool for backing up, optimizations, repairs, restores, and even running queries. If used in conjunction with other plugins aimed at increasing load times, you can truly create a statistical landscape of what you need to do to optimize your WordPress site. The added bonuses of having a plugin for backing up and restoring databases is really just the icing on the cake.

Wrapping Up

So you’ve cleared out excess plugins, deleted old posts and dealt with the tidal wave that is spam. Hopefully, you’ve also considered using one (or more) of the above mentioned plugins to help maintain and optimize your WordPress website.

One of the most important ways to go about keeping a fast website is the preventative maintenance side of things, which means putting these plugins to work so you can spend your precious time creating content. By using the free tools available to maximize efficiency and standardize your maintenance schedules, your WordPress site should be functioning at peak capacity.

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