My AMA on the BizSugar Blog

By: | November 10, 2019 | Tags: , , , ,
82 / 100 SEO Score

A few weeks back I was lucky enough to be asked to do an AMA (Ask Me Anything) Town Hall on the BizSugar blog about WordPress Speed Optimization by Gail Gardner of the Growmap Blog.

Naturally, I accepted and was really excited at the prospect of answering some challenging questions being thrown at yours truly by members of the BizSugar Mastermind Community.

The members did not disappoint. At the time I was reliably informed that my topic was one of the most popular. Although this should have been only 2 hours long, a mutual decision was taken to extend it to a further 24 hours to allow others to ask me anything.

Twenty-six hours later and 25 questions later I had finished. I was also reliably informed that my AMA was on a platform only open to members of the mastermind group as its a private forum and that I had permission to publish it all here in this blog post. So without further ado here are the Questions and Answers to my AMA.

David Trounce asked about Speeding Up Image-Heavy Sites….
Hey, Phillip, Any suggestions on speeding up image-rich sites that have already begun to lag? Assuming images are mostly under 150kb already – but the sheer quantity is what is slowing things down.

My Answer:
Hello David and thank you for your question. Many things spring to mind with image-rich sites.

The first thing is are you using the right format for the specific images?
I use jpg/jpeg for photographs, png for logos and vector-based and SVG for animated logo or vector-based.

Secondly is an image compressor service. I use my account at to run through my images before uploading them to the website first. They do have a plugin that does this automatically for you but I prefer keeping my plugins to a minimum.

Thirdly is the theme you are using on the website. Most downloadable themes these days are huge and built by teams of people adding loads of superfluous code to it. I build my themes from the ground up and can achieve similar results to popular themes using a fraction of the code used in the downloadable ones.

Fourth is the number of plugins used on the website. The more plugins you use the slower and the more vulnerable the site will be, My own site has only 5 plugins but I have come across ones with over 50.

Fifth is use a CND Service, I use StackPath as it works server-side and takes over the whole website, with this you will not need any caching plugin whatsoever, I have written a post on how to set this service up on my own blog.

Finally is to embrace new tech. I recently wrote about Google bringing out a new image format called WEBPand how I use it on my own website.
There is so much more you can do to speed up websites like choosing the best host or changing to a new theme but I hope that this gives you some food for thought.

Julie Weisharr asked about Embedded videos….
Does embedding videos on a page affect page load speed? How about if the page has many videos on it such as here:

My Answer:
Hi Julie, Thank you for your question. Yes, videos can have a huge impact on site speed but there are ways around it, in fact, I wrote a blog post on video Embedding recently.

Most sites like YouTube and Vimeo allow you to embed specific videos by way of an iframe. If you look at the page source of any webpage you will see something called a Doctype at the very top. Within a video iframe is essentially another webpage as there will be another Doctype showing up, this will, of course, have an impact on your site speed and page speed score.

Also, your webpage has goto pull the video to show on your site from another site like YouTube or some other video streaming site making the page. This may sound counter-intuitive but pulling assets from another site to render on your site does impact your page load speed.

I personally think the best way is always to serve your videos locally from your own server by simply adding the video as an MP4 as you would add an image via the WordPress interface.

Do have a read of my blog post as I explain more there and how to go about it. I hope this helps and thank you for your question.

Phillip Dews

Anita Campbell asked me about Combining & Compression….
Hi Phillip,

We keep getting suggestions from Speed tools and audit tools that we should compress or combine or otherwise optimize javascript and CSS files. It sounds like good advice. But it’s so confusing.

Can you explain, how does one compress and combine or optimize javascript and/or CSS files for speed?

  • How exactly should you do that?
  • Do you have to rewrite your javascript and CSS?
  • Do you put it all in one big piece of code that loads at once?
  • Or is there some tool that will combine these things?
  • Someone suggested something about Google Tag Manager, but I am not sure if that applies to this, or is a good solution.
  • Or something else?

It’s terribly confusing.

My Answer:
Hello Anita,

Thank you for your question. I can see how it can be confusing for most people without a good knowledge of code and I will try my best to explain it.

Most WordPress websites will have a number of plugins that add their own JavaScript and CSS files to the website that will be included in the header and footer areas alongside WordPress’s own and the themes own JavaScript and CSS files.

The more of these files there are the slower the site will be as it needs to make many calls for these files to render in the browser. It’s one of these reasons why I create custom themes as I use a minimum amount of JS and CSS files (usually only 1 master one for all the themes functionality).

It’s also why I advocate the minimum use of plugins on websites. Not only does it make the site faster but the fewer plugins there are the safer the site will be against hackers causing damage as there will be fewer backdoors.

Of course all of the above is just general advice. I am just researching a new blog post that will be speed-related covering all of this in the coming days but if you do want to dip your toe in the world of web development then here is something practical you can do.

  1. Backup your full website before anything else.
  2. Download the entire website using an FTP software like Filezilla.
  3. Open up JS and CSS files in Notepad++ or some other editor.
  4. Copy and paste the CSS code into a free service like CSSCompressor.
  5. Repeat #4 for JS with JSCompress.
  6. Replace the files in their appropriate locations using Filezilla.

Of course, it goes without saying to run a backup first and remember you may have to repeat the above if there are plugin and themes updates as the compressed files will be replaced with the updated versions.

Another thing you can do is consult a freelancer with experience and a good reputation to look over the site and provide you with a report on the site. Yes, we can be expensive at times but most good freelancers are worth spending a little bit extra on than searching forums and other websites for advice.

Hope this helps. I will update this answer once I have published a blog post on this very subject in a week or so.

Thanks again.
Phillip Dews

Anita then went on to ask about Database Size….
Can you explain how the database affects site speed? We have a very large WordPress installation with a large database. That topic keeps coming up when I read about site speed.

Is database size a speed concern? A performance issue on the server?

Someone mentioned trying to minimize the number of calls to the database. But if that is the answer, how does one “diagnose” calls and figure out how to minimize the number? Is that a plugin issue? Does it involve rewriting code?

My Answer:
Hello Anita,

Thank you again for this question. I personally think that the size of a database does not have that much of an effect on website speed and performance like themes, plugins, JS, assets, and CSS have on your site. Some may disagree with me though.

Having said that we all know that WordPress is a database-driven service and all the content viewable on your website will be called directly from the database so there will be some impact but not as much as the above.

Adding more plugins will sometimes add more tables to your database and when we remove these plugins those tables are sometimes left on your database. As a webmaster, I spend a lot of time working with phpMyAdmin to optimize mine and my client’s sites directly.

One good option though for WordPress site owners is to use WP-Optimize to streamline the database by deleting post revisions, transient options, trashed posts and so on. I would also run a backup on the hosting before using WP-Optimize.

Hope that this helps.
Phillip Dews

Holly Chavez asked….
What’s the best way to speed up WordPress that doesn’t involve any coding?

My Answer:
Hello Holly,
Wow, what a question. I could write a blog post of an answer here for you but I will try and keep it short and to the point.

  1. Hire a Freelancer – We are worth our weight in gold and a good freelancer with a good reputation will be a godsend to you especially if you have an established website or blog.
  2. Spend on Decent hosting. I use a company here in the UK called 20i and UKFast. A brilliant all-rounder with a great reputation is Krystal, these guys also have Olympians on their books.
  3. Use a CDN like StackPath to host your entire website. Setting this up is no mean feat but I do have a blog post on creating Superfast WordPress Websites using Stackpath
  4. Use a custom WordPress Theme – Of course, I will say this as I am a theme developer but as I have said before a custom theme usually can achieve the same results as a downloadable theme using a fraction of the code.

I hope that this has given you some food for thought Holly.
Thanks for your question.

Holly Chavez then went on to ask me….
Also, what’s the best way to fend off bots that can be interfering with your site’s speed.

My Answer:
Hi Holly,

The easiest way I have found is to block the bots by adding code to the .htaccess file with this list on known bad bots:

RewriteEngine On 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^BlackWidow [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Bot\ [OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^ChinaClaw [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Custo [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^DISCo [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Download\ Demon [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^eCatch [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^EirGrabber [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^EmailSiphon [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^EmailWolf [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Express\ WebPictures [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^ExtractorPro [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^EyeNetIE [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^FlashGet [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^GetRight [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^GetWeb! [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Go!Zilla [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Go-Ahead-Got-It [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^GrabNet [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Grafula [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^HMView [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} HTTrack [NC,OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Image\ Stripper [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Image\ Sucker [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} Indy\ Library [NC,OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^InterGET [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Internet\ Ninja [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^JetCar [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^JOC\ Web\ Spider [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^larbin [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^LeechFTP [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Mass\ Downloader [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^MIDown\ tool [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Mister\ PiX [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Navroad [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^NearSite [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^NetAnts [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^NetSpider [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Net\ Vampire [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^NetZIP [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Octopus [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Offline\ Explorer [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Offline\ Navigator [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^PageGrabber [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Papa\ Foto [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^pavuk [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^pcBrowser [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^RealDownload [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^ReGet [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^SiteSnagger [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^SmartDownload [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^SuperBot [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^SuperHTTP [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Surfbot [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^tAkeOut [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Teleport\ Pro [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^VoidEYE [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Web\ Image\ Collector [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Web\ Sucker [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^WebAuto [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^WebCopier [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^WebFetch [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^WebGo\ IS [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^WebLeacher [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^WebReaper [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^WebSauger [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Website\ eXtractor [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Website\ Quester [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^WebStripper [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^WebWhacker [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^WebZIP [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Wget [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Widow [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Xaldon\ WebSpider [OR] 
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Zeus RewriteRule ^.* - [F,L]

Salman Saleem asked….
I had made a WordPress site for my client with a speed test result above 70%. The plugin I used to achieve this was wp-rocket however after months site speed test result went below 50%. Can you tell me why did that happen?

My Answer:
Hello Salman,

My honest answer is that I do not know.
There are many many factors that can affect page speed.
Things like hosting company and type you are using.
The number of plugins on the website and is you or the site owner has added more plugins to the site after your first results.
If you are or not using a CDN Service like StackPath.

As I have said in previous answers on here its always worth consulting a freelance web developer with a good reputation to audit the site and leave a report with suggestions.

Sorry I cannot answer more indepth but I hope that this helps.

Abhishek Talreja asked about switching to WordPress…
My site is hosted on Tumblr and I have no coding knowledge. How important is it to switch to a self-hosted WordPress site? My focus is on creating some quality content. I’m using a Tumblr theme – I have not customized it.

My Answer:
Hi Abhishek,

Thank you for your question. If you are serious about your blog and building a business blogging then self-hosted is the way to go. WordPress offers the best CMS for bloggers by far.

Personally, I have not yet moved sites over from Tumblr to WordPress but there is always a first time for everything.

The two things you will need before migrating is a domain name and hosting. Once those are in place then look for a freelancer to help you transfer the site over.
If you feel confident enough to do the transfer yourself then
here is a good place to start.

Hope that this helps.

Leisha Petrovich asked….
I’ve had issues with CPU overuse. Any tips on avoiding that?

My Answer:
Hi Leisha,

Thank you for this question. The most obvious tip I can think of is to talk with your hosting company to see what they can do. However, that will say that you should upgrade your hosting account with a better CPU and bandwidth.

Personally, I would start with doing a combination of all the answers I have added to the other questions below yours.

  1. Hire a freelancer to audit your site and leave you a report.
  2. Change or Upgrade your hosting.
  3. Find another theme or get a custom-built one.
  4. Use a CDN Service like StackPath
  5. Edit your .htaccess file to block bad bots (answer below)
  6. Reduce the use of Plugins, think about if you really need them and are they still being updated?

Here are a few suggestions for you. Hope that this helps.

Brent Leary asked….
What are a couple of the popular plugins you should avoid from an optimization standpoint? And what are good alternatives to them?

My Answer:
Hello Brent,

Thank you for your question, I could really expand on this and talk about premium downloadable themes versus custom-built ones as well as plugins to avoid.

Firstly I would say that you should avoid plugins that are no longer maintained or upgraded anymore and ones that have a low star rating and bad reviews.

Secondly is to keep your plugins use to a minimum as the more plugins you have the more problems you could potentially encounter. Ask yourself “Do I really need this plugin?”, “What will it achieve?”

Thirdly do your research. support forums are a great place to start.
Hope that this has given you some food for thought.


Lior Krolewicz asked….
Website speed could be relative but when trying to figure out how much more you can optimize, I use tools like tools.pingdom or GTMetrix. It is realistic, or correct, to have the standard for a site to hit an A (100%)?
Is it always possible to optimize items, such as below, to an “A”?
– Leverage browser caching
– Minimize redirects
– Defer parsing of JavaScript
– Serve resources from a consistent URL

Are there any recommendations that absolutely should be an “A”?

My Answer:
Hello Lior,

Yes absolutely, whenever I build a website for a client my aim is to get grade As across the board and the very least grade B. my own site, for instance, is a grade-A with a 2s load time average.

do research into what the suggestions are on the reports and use my answers in this town hall to get the best possible results.

Many thanks for your question.

Amos Onwukwe asked….
Thanks for your time Philip. What are the best tools or plugins you recommend for gauging WordPress site speed?

My Answer:
Hello Amos,
there are a few, GTMetrix, Pingdom, Webpage test.
Ther the top ones.

Amos also asked….
What would you recommend as the best or most user-friendly themes for WP beginners looking to build their first site?

My Answer:
Hello Amos,

As a theme developer myself, I always advocate custom-built ones by freelancers and not the downloadable Pro themes.

If you are looking to develop one yourself then I would suggest google searching for ‘naked WordPress themes’ or ‘Starter WordPress themes’.

Best of Luck,

Samantha Lile asked….
How can writers balance using visual content that is compelling to audiences but doesn’t bear too much impact on page load speeds?

My Answer:
Hello Samantha,

Thank you for your question. As I am more a coder than a writer this would seem to be a difficult question for me to answer. finding the write balance for a writer I have to be honest and tell you that I have no idea.

As a coder and developer though I do have practical suggestions in most of the answers, I have given below especially to Question 1 at this town hall. I hope that this helps you, Samantha.

All the best.

Jaysson Hollingshead asked….
Does having too many plugins affect website load speed?

My Answer:
Hi Jaysson,

thank you for your question. without a doubt yes they do have an impact as plugins add more and more JS and CSS files as well as Database tables so my rule of thumb is to keep plugins to a minimum as well as ones that are up to date and maintained by their authors.

Hope this helps.

Ann Smarty asked….
Google’s Speed Insights are telling me that Google’s ads are the biggest offenders on my site. I tried a few existing plugins but couldn’t find anything that would solve that. How to monetize your site without sacrificing on page speed?

My Answer:
Hello Ann,

Thank you for your question. It’s a really interesting one to ponder and I have been struggling with this myself for a while now. You would think that an organization such as Google would sort itself out and provide AdSense code that does not violate its own insights when it comes to page speed.

Personally, I don’t use any plugins for Adsense myself and ad the Adsense code myself within my custom themes. I also only add the ads to my blog posts only and not the pages as I want my homepage and others to render as fast as possible as those gain me the most clients.

I am actually researching if I can serve the AdSense (and other google) external js files locally and if in the long run, it’s worth it. If I find that it is then I will write up a tutorial on the blog.

Ultimately it’s all about experimentation and finding the right balance for you and your website. if you have 50 ads on a page that takes 5 mins to load and your only earning a few pennies then I would reduce the ads to 3 or 4, doing that will raise the site speed and you will find the revenue increases.

Hope that this answer has given you some food for thought.

Philip Verghese asked…
Hi, Philip, It is indeed a great joy to see you on this AMA!
Hope I am not late here.
What is your take on Images, how will it affect the speed of the site?
If the size of the image matters in this aspect, what is the maximum and minimum size of the image we can incorporate with our blog posts?

My Answer:
Hello Philip,

Thank you for your question. Would you mind me directing you to the answer I gave to @David Trounce on Question 1 at the beginning as I give a quite in-depth answer to this same question?

Many thanks

Darren asked….
I feel like you need a few plugins to maximize Google Page Speed and Actual Load Time. Can you recommend a few great plugins that work together? I’m already using a CDN, W3, and ShortPixel. Is that the best combo?

My Answer:
Hi Darren,

What CDN ar you using. I use StackPath that renders all Caching plugins like W3 redundant. Check out my blog post on the previous answer below. As a rule of thumb the fewer plugins the better.

Check out as I have found that to be the best for image optimization.
Hope this helps.


Darren also asked….
How can you troubleshoot a slow WordPress backend? I run lots of WP sites, one of my sites has a really slow backend/admin area. Any tips on starting to find the problem?

My Answer:
Hello Darren,

Interesting question. Honestly, I have never had to deal with a slow dashboard before in my career but like most of the answers here today I would suggest looking into reducing the use of plugins, upgrading, changing or reinvesting into your hosting. Investing in a CDN like StackPath (Here is my
blog post on it).

Online Media Masters have an extensive blog post
HERE about slow WP Dashboards.
Thank you for your question, hope that this helps.


Gail Gardners Answer:
Is it always slow or only during the weekends? To understand why I ask, read my comment here. If that isn’t the cause, you probably have a database problem. And they aren’t easy to fix.

I moved GrowMap twice to two different techs trying to resolve mine. They are often caused by plugins that keep adding to your database.

We could ask @William Patton to chime in on this one if you like. He resolved a couple of database issues for me.

I agree with Phillip, too, that a plugin conflict can cause a myriad of issues. One of the problems Will resolved for me was causing my site to load so slowly when Social Warfare (social plugins) was running that I had to turn it off.

Neither Ron (my previous tech person) nor Warfare plugins (who created the plugin) could find the cause. Something Will did make the problem go away and now I’m running the Social Warfare plugins again with no slow-down.

The first step in diagnosing WordPress issues is to disable plugins as they are a common cause. The most likely to cause issues are caching and social plugins.

Disable them all and if the issue goes away, you can either enable them one at a time and retest or speed diagnosis up by enabling half. If the problem goes away, the issue is either in that half OR a conflict with something in that half of the plugins.

Start with the caching and social plugins and if those aren’t the problem, keep testing various combinations until you narrow it down to either one plugin that causes the issue alone or plugins that are conflicting with each other.

Social Alex asked….
What are the 2 top deadly website sins which slow a site AND are also easily avoidable?

My Answer:
Hi Alex,
What a brilliant question.

  1. Not keeping everything updated, by which I mean, WordPress, Plugins, Theme and of course not updating to PHP 7.+
  2. adding loads plugins without research thinking it will make the site faster and more secure.

I would also add a third and that is not deleting plugins that are no longer maintained by the plugin author.

I am going to add all these questions and my answers into a blog post over the coming days so I will expand on this then for you.

Many thanks, Alex for this brilliant question.

Andrei asked….
Hey Philip,
I plan on integrating the FAQ schema on some of my blog articles. Do you think this will affect my page speed in any way? Is there anything I can do in advance to make sure it won’t?

Thank you!

My Answer:
Hi Andrei,
Thank you for your question. Personally, I don’t think it will affect page speed at all and if Neil Patel is recommending this then do go ahead and integrate it. I have started doing this on a couple of my blog posts.

Test it before and then after using various speed test sites like GTMetrix, Pingdom, Etc…
Hope this has provided you with some food for thought.


Martin Lindeskog asked….
500 Internal Server Error – several sites on one web account. I have several sites (blogs, and some “coming soon sites”) placed on one web account. Lately, I have received an error message. The support at the hosting services is stating it could be due to the number of sites, the resources are going through the “roof”. I can’t afford to pay dedicated web accounts for every domain name/site, at the moment, so I have to come up with a solution. Is it possible to redirect some of the domain names to other sites, and allocate the resources to fewer sites?

My Answer:
Thank you for your question. Yep, your hosting company is correct and If I was in your shoes there are a few things I would do.

  1. Get some reseller hosting. I use a UK company called 20i. Separate the websites / Clients into their own separate accounts.
  2. Charge your clients a monthly/yearly fee for Hosting and Maintenance.
  3. Raise your prices. Most freelancers undercharge in order to get more work. I raised my fees and now I get better quality and exciting jobs.

If you cannot afford to upgrade your hosting then you need to charge more I’m afraid buddy.

I hope that this helps and best of luck.


Gail Gardner also answered with:
I just want to throw a comment in here that Database Connection Errors and server loads can be caused by hackers running programs against your log-in page. It can also be caused by spam commenters running bots.

On GrowMap, Ron Cripps installed a pop-up for me that protects my login page. So many hackers were running their applications against that page that from Friday evening until Sunday I was getting Database Connection Errors.

They were affecting every site on the server. And when we blocked them, I never had that problem again.

But I also had a massive problem with spambots. That was resolved by a custom plugin Andy Bailey wrote named the GrowMap anti-spambot plugin (G.A.S.P.).

If you’ve ever been asked to check a box to prove you’re human or something similar, you’ve seen it in action. Unfortunately, the free version is no longer available. But it is built into CommentLuv Premium which I run.

The day I originally turned it on, my comments went from 1000+ a day to about 40. So 960 of them were spambot comments.

Personally, I believe that every WordPress site needs both of those. And even though Google claims their analytics filters out bots and doesn’t count them, when these two strategies were employed, the traffic Google claimed I have dropped 80%.

That is a common amount of bots most sites have. Imperva used to do an annual bot traffic report that showed most traffic on most sites is bots — not humans. That 2016 report is the last one I could find.

One other thing I had to do was turn off pingbacks and trackbacks. I hated to do it because it is good to immediately know when someone else links to your site. (You can set up alerts or use SEO tools instead.)

But too many sites were using them to give their sites do-follow links while actually giving back first a nofollow link and later no link at all.

I explained how those plugins work in
Bloggers Using TrackBack Backlink Spamming Plugins.

David Leonhardt asked….
What plugins slow down a website most? It seems to me that some plugins don’t affect the speed at all, such as an HTML lock, since they are used only by the webmaster (not in the rendering of the site to the public), but am I wrong about this?

My Answer:
Hello David,
Thank you for your question and also for your patience. Yes, you are right the ones that render on the public side are the ones that affect site speed.

These plugins affect the site speed by placing their own JavaScript and CSS files in the wp_head and wp_footer areas of the website. a good plugin author will optimize these and use features like async on their JS files.

As there are thousands of plugins and more getting published every day it’s impossible for me to list all the ones that will adversely affect your site speed. That being said I would suggest research and checking the reposts on sites like GTMetrix, Pingdom, PageSpeedInsights and so on.

Plugins I don’t use or recommend any longer are Jetpack, W3, and Yoast or any that include Google analytics as I view this directly on the website itself. I do however recommend ones like
Rank Math SEO, Social Snap and WP-Optimize.

Hope that this helps.

Jerry Low asked about Third-party resources & pages with videos….
Hello Phillip,

Thank you for your time and for taking our questions.

1- What’s the easiest way (in WordPress) to leverage browser caching for third party resources like Google Fonts, etc?

2- How do you load a page with videos really really fast. Should we use a place holder that links to (and open up in lightbox) the video? Or something else? In your experience – any major difference between hosting your videos at Vimeo and YouTube?

3- Feedback on HostScore (Not WP relevant – totally cool if you pass this)

I just launched HostScore ( last month. The site monitor hosting services and measures their speed (TCP acknowledge time) and uptime.

Do you think this is something useful for average webmasters? If you own the site, how would you make use of the collected data?
Cheers, Jerry Low

My Answer:
Hello Jerry,

I’m actually quite surprised that I am still getting questions as this should have ended over twelve hours ago. Still no bother I will continue with these and thank you for your question.

On point one. there is no real easy way to do this and some coding knowledge is needed. The reason you are getting this warning is because of Google’s external JS Files and the Low Cache time they give which is just 2 hours. The reason for this is because Google will change those files on a regular basis and they want their users to get those changes quickly

Now this is not supported or recommended by Google themselves but what I tend to do sometimes is host those js files locally, be warned though as you will not get the updated that Google rolls out and you will need to update your local file.

For example, here is a common JS file that helps website owners display ads on their websites:

What I would do is first take that js code and minimize it with a js compressor website. I would then create a new js file within my themes js folder and create a new file called adsbygoogle.min.js then past the minimized code.

Thirdly I would then reference that file in the header.php file like this: <?php echo get_template_directory_uri(); ?>/js/adsbygoogle.min.js

now please bear in mind that this is not recommended by Google themselves and this is a hack but you get the idea.

On point number two. I have actually written a blog post on Embedded Videos and I would refer you to this:

Hope that gives you some food for thought Jerry, many thanks for the tweet about StackPath. It is a brilliant service and by far the best out there.


Erik Emanuelli Asked….
Hello Phil,
I ask your thoughts on the “ShortPixel Image Optimizer” plugin.
Is it good for image optimization on WordPress blogs?

My Answer:
Hello Erik,

Thank you for your question. Personally, I have never used this plugin before and have always used the brilliant plugin which in my opinion is still the best out there, however, I may be wrong on this.

Have you also thought about using WEBP images as this is the new format developed by Google? I wrote this
Blog Post about it back in March.

Hope that this gives you some food for thought.

And there we have it. All the questions asked and answered in the AMA Townhall. Thank you to Gail Gardner and all at BizSugar and everyone who took part in this brilliant yet exhausting 26 hour marathon.

  1. Philip Verghese Ariel | at 10:06 pm

    Hi Phillips,Ít is indeed a great joy to be part of this AMA via BizSugar Mastermind.
    It’s really great to meet you and get more information on different subjects in relation to WP and other features.
    I appreciate your prompt replies given to each question.
    Keep up the good work.
    Keep sharing your knowledge thru your pages as well as social sharing sites.
    Have a great month ahead.
    Best Regards
    ~ Phil
    Philip Verghese Ariel recently posted…Project Management Crisis – How to Handle It? An Infographic By WrikeMy Profile

    • Phillip Dews | at 8:23 pm

      Hey Philip,
      Thank you for the comment, Am glad I could do it. was a lot of hard work though answering all those questions, Gail actually extended the AMA as a load more people wanted me to answer those questions. Glad I posted them here for prosterity.
      You too have a good december fella.

  2. Philip Verghese Ariel | at 11:53 am

    Hi Phillip,

    It is indeed a joy to land again here on your space to share again the following note:

    I am so glad to note that this post has been mentioned on my prestigious post “Amazing Bloggers Who Feature Me In Their Posts” I am glad to share the link here for a quick reference.

    Keep sharing. 🙂
    Have a great day.

    ~ Phil
    Philip Verghese Ariel recently posted…Project Management Crisis – How to Handle It? An Infographic By WrikeMy Profile

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