In this larger and more detailed post I want to share with you information on the importance of a website’s speed, testing its performance, and the factors that can slow it down, the details that you need to know to make your website run faster.
Why is it important for a website to run fast?
This questions might arise in you, as why should you bother with is, seen as there are many well known websites that take ages to load, they are a pain to use, and yet they still get many hits, plenty of people still use them.
To put it simply, whatever is good for the reader, it’s good for you and it’s good for Google. If your website’s content is good and people can browse around quickly, they will enjoy their time on your site, the bounce rate will go down and the user experience will be great.
Together with other aspects Google will like this, and it is listed among the ranking criteria, when the different algorithms compile the list that pops up when you search something using Google’s search bar.
Presented by Skilled.co
5 convincing details for a fast website
- 1 second delay in loading the website decreases the conversion by 7%
- if the website loads with 2,4 seconds the average conversion is 1,9%, at 3,3 seconds it is 1,5%, at 4,2 seconds it is 1% and at 5,7 seconds it is 0,6%
- 1 second delay in loading the website decreases the pageviews by 11%
- the users 47% expect the website to load within 2 seconds or quicker
- users who use their mobiles expect the website to load within 4 seconds or quicker
What factors can slow down the website’s loading time?
Number of requests
When you open a website in your browser, you send requests towards the server, to make the website load. During this hit, you request the files that make the website.
What files are these:
- JS files
- CSS files
- HTML files
If there are too many and too large files, then there is a lot to download to load the website fully, and because of this the website will become slow, and its loading time will be larger.
So the goal is that you decrease the number and size of the above listed files, so there will be less to download and the website will become quicker too.
Files downloaded from external sources
I want to mention the files that load from external sources, which you should keep at a minimal. There are some unavoidable ones of course (e.g.: Facebook like button, Facebook Page Plugin, Google Analytics tracking code, files that belong to Google Adsense).
Server response time
A factor that must be mentioned is the server’s response time, which stands for how quickly does the server sends the downloading files during the loading of the website. The faster the server, the lower the response time, the faster the loading time of the website.
For this reason it is vital that you pick a web hosting service that is stable and fast.
Slow WordPress Theme
It is great that through a theme you can pretty much do anything you imagine, however, the function filled themes are often enough slower, hard to optimize them, and they ruin the speed of the website.
Outdated WordPress and/or plugins, “littered”, too large database
Few things under the “hood” can also slow down the loading of the website, for example the too large database, which contains outdated and unnecessary data, the not updated or badly written plugins, the not updated content management system (Joomla, WordPress).
Links placed within a website, e.g. in posts, can be very useful. They help the readers navigate, so they spend more time within the website, and for this the internal link building is indispensable.
Broken links, that take you to non-existent pages, don’t actually slow down your website, but they can ruin the user experience.
You know how annoying it is to click on something, only to get to an error page. So it will worth your while to run a link checking plugin from time to time.
How to test the speed of your website?
If you decide to increase the speed of your website, first you should definitely test it on one or more speed testing tool, so you can see which areas require your attention. I will introduce you to a few that I frequently use.
Google PageSpeed Insights
Link to run the test: PageSpeed Insights
This is Google’s testing device, and with this you can test both desktop and mobile versions. To test the mobile version, Google recommends the Mobile Friendly Test on the top of the page in the red row.
It’s easy to use PageSpeed Insights, all you have to do is write in the link of your website and click on analyze. When this test is finished you will recieve a number (between 0-100), and a list of fixable problems.
These are the most common problems:
Properly size images (resize and compress) – the optimization of images can seriously influence the result, if there are issues in this department, your overall score will be lower.
Use your browser’s cache: with caching you can set which elements of the websites are the ones that don’t change (static), and how long would you like to store them in the browser’s cache.
Caching is important because the files in cache do not need to be loaded again and again when you go on the website, so the loading time will be quicker.
These would be the JS files from external source files, for example the different Google products (Google Analytics, Google Adsense), some plugins, and some social media files (Facebook box, like button, etc.)
Allow compression: with the help of Gzip a device from the server compresses the website, and delivers this compressed version, when the website is being loaded. The smaller size results in quicker loading time and quicker website.
This is where you can see the link for the Google font, as a render-blocking source for example and the website’s and plugin’s JS and CSS files, if they aren’t compressed and moved.
Rank the visible content: to render the content over fold you need further sources. For this problem there are many solutions, for example decreasing the sizes of CSS, JS, HTML and images, turning on compress, and if the loading of the content over fold gets priority.
Decreasing the server’s response time: if the server’s response time is slow, PageSpeed will alert you with the measured time as well. The reason for a slow website can either or both be the badly optimized website and the slow server.
Link to run the test: Webpagetest.org
It is a very useful tool, which can give additional information compared to PageSpeed.
To test you have to copy and paste your website’s link and then pick a location, if your location isn’t there pick the closest you can find, for Hungary I normally pick Prague. By clicking on Start Test the test begins, you will have to wait a few seconds, as it does take a while.
When it’s done, you get a detailed evaluation based on the first load, and then for repeated loads as well.
What does Webpagetest know, that PageSpeed Insights doesn’t?
- It shows the Time to First Byte: the smaller this value is the better.
- It measures the website’s loading time both for first and second load.
- It shows the number of downloadable files.
- It shows in a waterfall view in what order and how quickly did the files that make the page loaded.
- A pie chart shows how the different files’ numbers are divided, and another showing specific files sizes compared to the whole size of the page.
A webpage rates your site between A and F, A being the best and F being the worst. It gives you information on Gipz compressing, image and static element caching. If you click on the letters you can see a list that breaks down the problematic files.
Link to run the test: GTmetrix
Similar to Webpagetest, it knows everything as the previously mentioned tool. Although the look of the website is different, the results are received with percentages and letters together.
GTmetrix shows two different results, the PageSpeed Score and the YSlow Score. For both, the higher the % the better it is. A-A, A-B, B-A, B-B are really good results.
If you click on the PageSpeed or YSlow tabs, you can see what are the components that make your website’s result. At the examined components if you click on the ones with the arrow pointing downwards, you can see which files require your attention for better results.
If you click on “What’s this mean?” you will see a pop up window explaining this specific result, and if you click on Read more you will see possible solutions.
The Waterfall tab takes you to a waterfall view similar to Webpagetest, where the files are listed under each other together with their loading time.
The advantage of this site is that using the Compare button, you can compare your tested website with other sites. This can be another site of yours or maybe a site of your competition.
Link to run the test: Pingdom.com
Very simply made testing site, during the test it’s best to pick Stockholm if you are in Europe, as this is the only available option in the continent.
After the test you receive a summary, which contains information on where does your website fall based on the received results, how long did the website take to load, how big is the website, how many files needs to be downloaded in order to load, and is your website quicker or slower than other websites tested with pingdom.com.
By scrolling down you can find detailed results, which looks similar to GTmetrix. The tabs under it contains similar information too.
- Content size by content type
- Request by content type
- Content size by domain (could be interesting with external sources)
- Request by domain
- Lastly, the inevitable waterfall view, and a little explanation on how to use the website.
Link to run the test: SEOceros
Testing site that is available in english, german, hungarian and many other languages, which doesn’t only help with optimizing speed, but also with optimizing search engines.
The first half of the test checks out the website’s look and optimization for desktop, mobile and tablet.
This is followed by the websites test regarding SEO, where next to the results you can read about recommendations, and why is it important that each factor is fixed.
SEOceros checks metadata, the content of the website, the structures of the headers, the images’ alt titles, the search friendly links, and internal and external links, the url redirections and so on.
The last part of the test covers the test of the speed optimization, which checks the server, the render-blocking sources, JS, CSS files, compression and caching.
The test result can be seen at both the top and bottom of the page, SEOceros rates between 0-100. I always try to maintain a score above 90, this can be easily achieved with a bit of attention.
How to speed up your WordPress site?
1. Choose the best hosting service
Picking a web hosting service helps you build the base the for a fast loading website, which comes with many advantages, while a slow, unreliable provider can be the wall preventing your website being fast and reliable.
You can pick from many hosting provider’s packages, but the best known and most popular ones, which are recommended to use with WordPress are:
- WP Engine
- Digital Ocean
I could continue this list, but on the popularity lists and on the best voted sites you can mostly find these, most commonly with SiteGround leading the polls.
In the case of shared hosting the server handles many websites, so if your websites doesn’t have high visitation numbers it could be a good solution for you, but it’s good to mention, that if the server is overwhelmed it may affect the speed of your website. The advantage of shared hosting is its cheap price.
VPS, virtual private server, is suitable for a more visited website, webstore, without you having to pay for your own server. VPS is more expensive than shared hosting, and its operation is a bit more complicated, however its advantage is that the speed can be amended.
A dedicated server is the most expensive solution, and its operation isn’t for the everyday user. Its advantage that in this scenario you control everything.
For the optimal performance, fast website, make sure to pick a hosting service where PHP’s 7.0 or higher version is available.
2. Choose a fast WordPress theme
It is worth your while to look into a given theme, or maybe even test the demo page on one of the website speed test tools.
If you use the following sentences in Google, you can find many WordPress Themes that are optimized well: Fast WordPress Themes, Fastest WordPress Themes, WordPress Theme with Good SEO; Best SEO Friendly WordPress Themes; Best SEO Optimized WordPress Themes, Speed Optimized WordPress Themes etc.
3. Reduce and compress JS, CSS, HTML files
I found Autoptimize is the best free plugin for this job, after installation you have to use the advanced settings, and don’t be afraid of this, there isn’t loads there.
With its help you can make smaller, compressed files from many files. It has a useful function, which can turn off Google fonts, and this will help reduce the number of files being loaded from external links.
It’s worth to use this, when you use a theme that looks good even without the Google font. If you need the Google font, don’t worry about this option.
Another great plugin is the WP Rocket. WP Rocket is a premium plugin, it isn’t used only for caching, but it can optimize other speed related tasks as well.
You can optimize your JS and CSS files, and it contains a Lazy Load function, which you can use to optimize your database and Google Fonts, just to mention a few things.
On the extensions website you can find detailed information, the documentation helps you set up the plugin, and you can always ask help from the support, if you have any trouble of course.
This plugin isn’t free, however for the various functions and the effective speed increase, you only have to pay $39 yearly.
How to install Autoptimize?
To install Autoptimize select from the Plugins menu, Add New option, and write in the search bar Autoptimize. This plugins icon is a surfer, so it’s easy to find. Another option is downloading it from the extension storage, then uploading and installing it.
After you installed and activated it you can find Autoptimize at the Installed plugins page, where you have to select Settings to configure Autoptimize.
A very simple page will welcome you, where are three options are available, so first you need to click on Show Advanced Settings, so you can see various settings options.
How to configure Autoptimize?
At the HTML Options it’s enough to tick the first box (Optimize HTML Code).
Aggregate JS-files: would you like to unite the JS files. You must pick this option.
Also aggregate inline JS: if you pick this option, you will quickly increase Autoptimize’s cache memory, so I don’t recommend using this.
The slider isn’t working, or the mobile menu, the pictures aren’t showing up, etc. You can normally fix this, if you add to the exclusion the jquery.js file.
For the complete optimization you can activate all the options in the CSS Options box aside from the Inline and Defer CSS functions.
In the Exclude CSS from Autoptimize row, you can add the CSS files you want to exclude from optimizing.
The developers created an extension (Autoptimize criticalcss.com power-up), which will automatically create and handle critical CSS files. This extension works automatically after installation and activation, but you can adjust the settings, as Autoptimize has a Critical CSS tab.
At the further settings option you can tick both options, so it saves the united files, and the website will be optimized for all the user who log in.
At the extra tab you can find Google fonts, and settings for the optimization of images. You can activate the options Remove emojis and Remove query strings from static resources here. I recommend ticking these.
You can turn off Google fonts, or you can set which way you would like them to load.
4. Optimize Google fonts
Both Autoptimize and WP Rocket contains setting options regarding the optimization of Google fonts.
5. Caching and Gzip compressing
I know that W3Total Cache or WP Super Cache is more well known, and has a lot more installation next to its name, but for me these didn’t work.
WP Fastest Cache didn’t cause problems like this, its setup doesn’t take longer than a minute, and I can complete the Gzip compressing with it.
The only downside of this plugin is that it can’t be used for a Multisite, but if this won’t be a problem for you if you are only installing a simple WordPress website or blog.
How to install WP Fastest Cache?
I will show you how to install and configure WP Fastest Cache.
You have two ways to install this plugin:
- The first is downloading the installation file from the WordPress Plugin Directory, and then uploading it in the Plugins–>Add New menu by clicking Upload extension.
- The other option is going to the Plugins–>Add New menu, write in the search bar WP Fastest Cache, and install then activate the plugin from here.
After turning on the plugin, on the left hand-side and on the top of the icon you can notice the icon with the gepard on it.
By clicking on the icon on the sidebar you can bring up the plugin’s settings, and by hovering over the top icon, the options to delete the cache (Delete cache), and the reduced sized css/js files (Delete Cache and Minified CSS/JS) will appear.
Configure WP Fastest Cache
From the settings, the light greyed options are only available in the paid version, so you can’t activate these. From the available functions tick these:
- Cache System (enable): enable caching
- Preload: the websites caching will happen automatically, not when it pops up for a visitor for the first time (the data in the pop up window is fine, you don’t have to edit this)
- New Post: the cache is deleted, when there is a new post or the site is shared (in the pop up window, tick Clear All Cache)
- Update Post: the cache is deleted when a post or page is updated (in the pop up window tick Clear All Cache)
- Gzip: it turns on the compaction of Gzip, so the application on the server compacts all files, therefore reducing their sizes
- Browser Caching: it turns on the browser’s caching, so for returning visitors the website will run smoother
If you are planning on using this cache plugin, you should also install Autoptimize for these tasks:
- Minify HTML: reduces the website’s size
- Minify CSS: reduces the sizes of the CSS files
- Combine CSS: it merges all the CSS files into one, decreasing the number of downloads
- Combine JS: it merges all the JS files into one, decreasing the number of downloads
On the Delete Cache tab you can manually delete the cache, the same options are available here as to what the gepard icon provides at the top of the page at the WPFC title. The next 3 tabs are only available with the paid version.
On the Exclude tab you can set up exclusions, e.g.: the js and css files that you don’t want the plugin to cache. I don’t use this option, just like the CDN (Content Delivery Network) tab’s options as well.
The essence of CDN is, that the static content is served by a server that was specifically optimized for this, the CloudFlare, or the MaxCDN provides services like this.
One part of the downloads are done by this server, and the rest by the hosting provider server, so the loading of the website becomes quicker.
When you finish setting everything up, there is nothing else left, then clicking on Submit and that’s it. I manually delete the cache, when I’m making serious changes, like the look of the website. So after clearing the cache, I can see the new version.
6. Optimize images
Without images a website is an empty shell, a well selected, related and good quality image can really improve on the whole look of the website.
Another advantage of images is that when they are placed in a post they direct the attention of the reader to the text, they encourage them to read and they illustrate the content.
Spectacular image solutions, such as headers and sliders, or images placed in a post can really increase the size of the website, the number of downloadable files, slowing down the website.
Due to this, the images have to be optimized and for this many different methods and plugins are at your service.
One of the tasks to optimize images is reducing the sizes of the pictures, the other is to reduce the number of downloaded images when loading the website.
Reducing the sizes of images
It can be a great help when you are trying to optimize images, if you don’t use larger images than they are required. Why would you use an image that’s 1400×900 if a 600×400 is enough in your post? A lower resolution image is way smaller even without compressing, than its larger resolution version.
If you have your image in the perfect resolution, you cans till reduce its size with the help of lossless and lossy compression, which purpose is that the quality of the image doesn’t worsen, but the file size will become smaller.
Image compression plugins
There are different plugins, that do their job while the image is being uploaded, or compress pictures that are already uploaded. Most of the image compression plugins contain limitations.
They specify the number of images that can be compressed, the compressed files’ sizes, and an image’s maximum size. One of the most known extension is Smush it, which as a bonus works fairly slow, and you have to restarts the compression after every 50 image.
One of the free solutions that is the easiest to use, the quickest, works well and has less limitations is reSmush.it. I only had good experiences with this plugin so far, but I do have to mention, that I did have an issue once with the optimizing while upload function, as I could not upload an image.
EWWW Image Optimizer
The EWWW Image Optimizer is a good solution, but there is a chance that it won’t complete the compression if the hosting provider has no jpegtran activated (You are notified of this with a jpegtran is missing text. During this time the plugin seems to be working, but the compression doesn’t happen).
Some of the settings are limited in the free version, for example when compressing jpeg you can’t pick lossy compression, only lossless, but within the free and somewhat limited solutions, I do find this plugin the best.
Among other image compression plugins I have also tried Shortpixel, which works efficiently, but its free version harshly limits the number of compressible files (100 images, but these 100 includes the different sized thumbnails as well).
If paying to be able to compress a larger quantity isn’t an issue for you, then I definitely recommend Shortpixel to you.
Image compression applications online
Out of the online solutions Optimizilla worked best for me. This website doesn’t limit the number of uploads, works very efficiently, with the help of a scale you can set the quality of the image, and you can easily download your images.
Another solution is Kraken.io online interface, where you can upload your images in bundles (not one by one). Before uploading your image select the lossless option, and after compression click on Download all Kraked Files to download the zip file that stores the images.
If you only uploaded one image, just click on the Download File, which will open a new tab in your browser with your image, and by right-clicking and selecting Save As you can save your image. When using the free version, you can’t upload images that are larger than 1MB.
Lazy load images
A3 Lazy Load
In normal cases, when the website loads, all the images download as well. This can ruin the speed of the website. With the help of WordPress plugin, A3 Lazy Load, you can set it, that only the images that are above the fold load, so only the images that welcome the reader. The rest of the images download when the reader reaches them by scrolling.
If you are using the WP Rocket extension, you don’t need to get a plugin installed, as it contains the Lazyload setting options.
7. Database maintenance
I recommend the WP-Optimize plugin for database maintenance (but before using, do a backup just to be safe). With this you can optimize the database tables, you can delete the posts automatic saves and the spams.
The plugin offers other options as well that are marked red, but you don’t have to tick these, as it is unsure what will be the result once you run the maintenance.
Maintaining and optimizing doesn’t magically create an amazing website, from a rudimentary, leisurely website, but it helps achieve it. If you imagine speed optimizing as a large cake, this would be a slice of it.
You don’t have to freak out, if MySQL, the database table and similar expressions sounds Chinese to you, as I will explain everything step by step, what is what, and what you have to do to achieve a fast and maintained database. Let’s get started!
What is a database?
The database, as it is suggested by the name, serves to store data. Content management systems (WordPress, Joomla) wouldn’t work without MySQL database.
The database is made up of tables, in which you find different informations. The WordPress creates 11 tables during installation, and the number of tables grow as you install various plugins. Not only does the number of the tables, but their sizes increase too, but we will get into that later on.
What kind of information does the database store?
In the database information on settings regarding the website and extensions, the user’s data, the entries data and metadata, categories, tags, comments without the requirement to be complete can be found.
As you can see, all the important information can be found in the database. As you start using the website more, install various plugins, create more and more posts, the size of the database starts increasing too.
What else can increase the size of the database?
WordPress provides a very handy function, saving an entry’s or page’s version (post revisions). Every time you are editing an entry and press save, it creates a new version. From this version you can bring back the entry’s previous versions.
This is a very useful function, however, if you have lots of entries and you edit them often, there is a good chance that your database contains versions that you don’t need anymore. And these can increase the size of your database by a good bit.
Why is it important to maintain your database?
Try to imagine your database as your computer’s hardware. When you copy and delete files, and install and uninstall programs, leftover files stay on your computer and your hardware becomes fragmented. If your hardware is fragmented, it takes longer to receive data and your computer becomes slower.
The database behaves the same way. When the website is running it receives information from the database. If the database is too large, because it contains unnecessary data and it is fragmented, then receiving the data will take longer and your website will be slower too.
How can you maintain your database?
It’s important, that before you use any of the maintenance methods, you make a backup of the database. You can do this with the help of PHPMyAdmin, or with the cPanel Full backup function.
The PHPMyAdmin is there to manage the database, therefore one of the maintenance options is running the PHPMyAdmin’s optimizing database function.
The other option, if you are using the WordPress admin interface, is to use an extension to clean out the database and do a defragmentation. For this the WP-Optimize provides a good solution, and now I’m going to demonstrate how to use it.
How to install, configure and use WP-Optimize?
The WP-Optimize is the most popular database optimizing extension on WordPress. It can take pride in the over 800.000 current installation and the 4.9 average rating. When writing this article (30.11.2018) it was updated two weeks ago, as the developers are constantly working on it.
There are two options for installing:
The first one is downloading the extension from the WordPress Plugin Directory, following this link: WP-Optimize, then uploading the package through the Plugins–>Add New by clicking on Upload extension.
The other option is going to the Plugins–>Add New, and write in WP-Optimize on the right hand-side search bar. It’s the first orange coloured icon that you have to install, and then activate.
The WP-Optimize text and icon on the WordPress’ admin interface left hand-side will appear, after the installation and activation, and by clicking on it you can open the extension’s settings.
On the extension’s page there are 4 tabs: WP-Optimize, Table information, Settings, Plugin family.
On the WP-Optimize tab you can see the various actions, the first 6 is automatically ticked, these settings are safe and enough (optimizing database tables, deleting entry edits, removing spam and deleted comments, removing draft and deleted entries, removing not approved comments).
On the right hand-side of this site, you can also see the PHP and MySQL version, the actual settings regarding the maintenance, and the current size of the database.
On the Table information tab you can see the tables that create the database, and the information regarding their sizes and types. You don’t have to do anything with this.
On the Settings tab, there are two sections, the General settings and the Scheduled clean-up settings.
If you are using the General settings, the first option – Keep last 2 weeks data – is ticked, you can set to keep the data from the last two weeks, and delete the previous ones. This number can be edited of course.
This version is optional, I don’t use it myself, but if you would like to keep the last few edits of your entries, than it might be useful to you.
In the Scheduled clean-up settings you can activate WP-Optimize to automatically maintain the database at specified intervals. This is a very comfortable option, but I personally don’t use it. I prefer to run the database’s maintenance myself, after creating a backup.
You don’t have to do anything with the Plugin Family tab, this is technically an advertisement for the extension developers.
When you complete the backup and get to know the possibilities through the extension, there is nothing else left, but optimizing the database. You don’t have to do anything else, other than clicking on the blue buttoned Run all selected optimizations.
The WP-Optimize starts it’s job, and once it is finished on the Status box you can see how much space did the extension free in the database.
8. Broken links
I recommend Broken Link Checker for checking and fixing broken links, which checks all the links on the website at specified intervals, alerts you of errors and you can fix these within the plugin. You will also receive an email of the result of the search.
What kind of links are on the website?
A link to one of your own posts, or pages within a post, is an internal link. These links are very useful for a number of reasons. Just imagine Wikipedia, where every article is filled with these links, and these take you to another article within Wikipedia.
Internal links help you navigate within a website, they increase the time spent on the website (you click on one which takes you to an article with an interesting content, and then again to another interesting topic and so on).
Internal links also help Google to understand what is the content of the website, and how different contents connect with each other. The activity where internal links are made with this exact goal is called internal link building.
Internal link building doesn’t cost a thing, and if you do it right, it helps your viewers find entries that are connected to the one they just read, and as I mentioned, helps Google understanding your content. It can also give you an advantage in ranking.
Of course, not all links internal on a website, there are links that take you to a different website, for example sources.
Why is it worth your while to check the links?
Broken links, which take you to a non-existent website, although they don’t slow down your website, they ruin the user experience. You know yourself how annoying it is when you click on something, but it only takes you to the 404 error page. You couldn’t find, what you were looking for. So you leave the website.
Broken links can happen if they move a website, or when the website, content that you linked is deleted. With Broken Link Checker you can easily find and fix broken links within WordPress websites.
How to install, configure and use Broken Link Checker?
What does Broken Link Checker do?
- It checks the links in your entries, in the comments, on sites, in the blogroll and in your personalised content too.
- It seeks out broken and missing images and redirections.
- It notifies you within the WordPress admin interface or in email.
- It avoids the search engine making a mistake with broken links.
- The links can be searched and filtered based on URL, anchors and other parameters.
- The links can be updated through the plugin, so you don’t have to manually update every single post you have made.
Broken Link Checker is very simple to use and it has been translated to many different languages, so it makes your job even easier. But if you are still unsure how to use this plugin, continue reading as I will demonstrate what you have to do step by step.
You have two options to install this plugin, just like with other plugins:
The first is downloading the installation file through this link: Broken link checker, and then uploading it in the Plugins–>Add New menu by clicking Upload extension.
The other option is going to the Plugins–>Add New menu, write in the search bar Broken Link Checker. It is the first grey coloured icon that you have to install and then activate.
The settings of this plugin can be reached through the Settings–>Installed plugins page by clicking on Broken Link Checker–>Settings.
You can find the list of all the broken links by clicking Tools–>Broken links
On the first tab you can see all the general settings, you can leave them at their default settings. If you would like to use a different email than your WordPress admin email, fill out the relevant part.
On the next page you can set the search locations for the links. You can’t make a mistake here. The default settings (just like on the image) are normally enough, but even if you tick all the options, you’re not going to make a mess.
At the Acf Fields and Custom Fields in the settings, you can add your unique parameters as well.
The Which Links to Check tab you can also just tick the default settings option, additionally it can check various video sites links, and the codes from previous Youtube versions.
At the Protocols & APIs tab you only have to make any modification, if you are planning to use Mediafire and Rapidshare APIs. If you didn’t use any links from these sites, then it isn’t necessary.
At the Advanced settings you can tick the Fix redirect option together with all the default ticked options, so the broken redirects automatically correct themselves. At the bottom of the page you can click Recheck all pages to start a search, at a time other than the scheduled search.
After the settings have a look at the Broken links page. The plugin found a 5 link on the website together with the images. From these, I created one that is broken, so I could show you how to fix it.
By clicking on the Broken tab, you can see the broken link. At the status you can see the 404 error message, in which entry it is in, and under what anchor text is the problem. By clicking on the top right corner, you can filter through the list of broken links.
To fix this hover over the link, and select the Change URL option, and replace the broken link with the right one. I changed my broken link to my domain name here.
When you are done fixing the error, you can click on refresh, which should show a code 200, meaning that link is working now.
Unfortunately I don’t know any other plugin with this functions, that is free and updated relatively often. This one was last updated 1 year ago, which is not to good. I don’t like to install a plugin that is so rarely updated.
9. Outdated plugins and WordPress
It is very important that the plugins and WordPress (or Joomla, Drupal) are regularly updated, not only for the speed of the website but for the safety of the website as well.
During these updates, the developers are normally fixing the security holes, which the hackers tend to use to break into websites.
Before an updated, it’s worth your while to create a backup of your website and your database, just in case something doesn’t work out, you can set everything back up using this.
Out of the plugins it’s best to pick those which have many and good ratings, which are regularly updated by the developer, and are compatible with the WordPress version.
Before updating a plugin it’s good to read into it at the plugin forum (the page of the plugin at the WordPress Plugin Directory), to see if the update has caused any problems with anybody. If there are many people reporting problems, it’s best to wait with the update.
Regarding the plugins, I should mention that despite the fact that there are many great extensions that can pretty much fix anything on WordPress, it’s best to use less, because the many plugins can really slow your website down as well.
I hope that this post was useful to you.