If you’re struggling with a slow loading WordPress website that comes to a crawl during times of heavy traffic, or uses a lot of server resources, the answer is here! PHP 7 is now available on many hosting platforms, especially hosts that are optimized for WordPress sites…and it will change the way WordPress websites function.
What is PHP and What Does it Do?
PHP, which stands for hypertext pre-processor, is a server-side scripting language designed primarily for web development but also used as a general-purpose programming language. PHP is and open-source program, and is constantly being improved upon, with new versions hitting the internet on a fairly regular basis. In layman’s terms, it processes the scripts and apps that run your website.
Why is PHP 7 More Significant Than the Previous Updates?
Many of the previous updates have been related to streamlining the code, fixing bugs, closing security holes, and adding functionality. However, PHP 7 has significantly improved the speed in which it processes requests. By significantly, I mean PHP 7 is more than twice as fast as the previous version.
How Does This Help My WordPress Website?
How this helps you is by improving your search engine rankings (loading speed has become a large component of Google’s ranking algorithm). In addition to bringing more people to your site, having fast loading and function processing will improve conversion rates, and decrease the number of users who leave your site right away.
These two improvements can greatly increase your results without creating any outward appearance changes to your site. Everything that is improved is on the back end and not seen by your users.
The other benefits relate to bandwidth usage. The more efficient processing of PHP 7 will allow more users on your site at one time without harming the performance. It will also save you money if your hosting costs are at all related to server space or bandwidth usage.
How Do I Upgrade to PHP 7?
The first thing you need to do is test your website for PHP 7 compatibility. This is a critical step because if your theme and/or plugins aren’t compatible with PHP 7, it could break your site…and you definitely don’t want that.
The easiest way to test for compatibility is to add this plugin to your site, and allow it to check for you. If it shows no compatibility issues, you’re likely to be safe to move forward. If there are issues, those will need to be resolved before upgrading. If you’re uncomfortable doing this first step on your own, contact us, and we’d be happy to help.
The second step is to check with your hosting provider to see if they’re offering PHP 7, yet. Since PHP 7 is going to be WordPress’ recommended minimum version by the middle of 2017, they should. If they don’t, you should look for a hosting company that specializes in hosting WordPress sites, such as WP Engine.
PHP 7 is the best thing to happen to WordPress based websites in a long time. The sooner you can take advantage of it, the better off you will be. The costs to change over should be none to minimal, but the increase in performance of your site and hosting servers will make it worth its weight in gold!
**Note: If you have an ecommerce website that is built on WordPress, regardless of which shopping cart plugin you use, you should consider an upgrade to PHP 7 of critical importance, not just a good idea.