This WordPress database optimisation technique is useful in general, but especially so if your website runs the popular WooCommerce shopping cart plugin. In just 2 steps, your pages will load at least 2 seconds faster, but often a lot more than that.
One of my clients owns a site that sells dresses and despite being hosted on a business-grade server and using various caching and minification techniques, the product pages we often slow to load. Often, the WordPress back-end (admin area) was also slow. Since page loading speed is a big factor in conversion rate optimisation, as well as search engine optimisation, this was important to sort out.
To find out what was going on, I first installed the Query Monitor plugin, which shows various issues in the PHP proccessing of the page, including slow queries. On every page load, it was showing one particular query as taking at least 2 seconds, often longer. That query was run by a core function to load all the options with “autoload = ‘yes'”.
Web discussions showed that other people were plagued by this, but the WordPress core team was opposed to addressing it with an index, or in any other specific way. I had to do it myself.
By definition, business owners looking for a new website lack the technical skills to look “under the hood” of what they get. They can grasp the concept of a content management system, they recognise the name WordPress, but for the most part, they look at their website as the public would look at it, move around a bit and give their lowest-bidding web developer the thumbs up to go live.
A couple of months later, a major WordPress update comes along, with a flurry of updates to plugins and themes that must be made compatible. Most, if not all, of these updates contain bug fixes and security patches, so it’s really important to apply them. If left untouched, the website will gradually become more and more exposed and the online business will be in too much danger of being hacked.
“No problem”, thinks the hapless site owner, “All I need to do is click that Update button and my site will do the rest automatically”.
Famous last words…
Building a website and starting an online business seems to many small business owners like a big step. This often makes them feel exhausted after it’s done and they do their best to pretend that it’s all they’ll ever need.
So much so that when someone tells them that their site’s software needs updating or that the content needs to be refreshed and extended, they almost hate that person. “What?” they say, “Is it not enough I’ve spent all that money getting this responsive, singing and dancing WordPress site with mobile bells and whistles, now you tell me I need to spend more money?”
Sadly, it’s not.
Yesterday, a friend rang me and casually mentioned that his online business website had been hacked. He was miserable, because he didn’t know how to recover it and had no way of getting his site back, because he had not kept any backups of the files or the database.