Comment sections on your posts can add significant value, especially if they are active and WordPress makes it dead simple to do this with native Comments system, already configured and ready to use.
But is using this the right way to go? Can it cope with what you need it to do or will it simply slow everything down to a crawl?
You may have noticed that the most popular posts on your site, the ones with all comments on, take longer to load. Much of this is down to the configuration you are using, and all the resources needed to make comments work.
As a result, a comments system that is active can add a lot of loading onto the server, make the page size larger, add to the HTTP request and add in extra JS resources.
It really doesn’t matter whether you are using the native Comments system or a plugin, comments can significantly slow things down. As such, optimizing them should be your first job and there are a few ways you can do this.
Fix Slow-Loading Comments
Some of the things you can do to optimize comments and speed things up are:
- Disable Comments – Slightly drastic but, if your comments section is not adding a scrap of value to your website, disable it
- Optimize Native Comments – see below
- Use a Plugin – see below
Optimize Native Comments
If you use the native commenting system, there are two main ways to optimize it:
Limit How Many Comments are Displayed
WordPress is configured by default to load up every comment on the page with the first page-load.
This is fine if you only have a few comments but if your posts are popular and you have hundreds of comments, each one with a unique avatar, is going to slow things down considerably. Cut the number of comments loaded when the page first loads by doing this:
- Go to the admin area in WordPress
- Click on Settings>Discussion>Other Comments Settings
- Next, to Break Comments into Pages, check the box and put in a value for how many comments you displayed
At the bottom of the page, click on Save Changes
Now you will only see the specified number of comments when the page first load
Gravatar support is built into WordPress so any user that has a Gravatar account will have their own image added to their comments on the native Comments system.
This looks nice, but the cost is high because, on loading, each gravatar requires an HTTP request so, if you get 50 unique comments, an extra 50 HTTP requests are added, and this can slow your page speed down considerably.
To stop this, you will need to disable avatars by opening Settings>Discussion>Avatars and then disabling the option for Show Avatars.
Using Thrive Commenting Plugin
One of the very best and most efficient of all the WordPress commenting plugins is called Thrive Comments.
Thrive can help you turn commenting into an incredibly valuable tool and totally change the way your users experience your website. Some of its key features include:
- Using the native database for storage of comments so, if the plugin does get disabled you haven’t lost everything
- Allow the use of anonymous commenting or use of Google or Facebook accounts for commenting
Not many styling options but the comments form is solid and looks good
- Choose to give your users based on how many approved comments they have, how many upvotes they get or how many replies they receive. You can also give moderators a badge
- Enable up and down voting, only upvoting or none at all
- Take advantage of the focus on conversion offered by Thrive and chose from multiple options – sending thank you messages for comments, providing social media sharing options, displaying related posts, or send users to another page.
- Allow users to be notified when a reply is left on one of their comments or allow users to subscribe to be notified of all comments
- Choose Lazy Loading for comments and avatars once the page has been loaded so your content isn’t delayed in being shown
- Choose to assign moderators and users who can translate the front-end
- Full range of anti-spam features in included in the plugin
- Use the built-in modern-looking comments moderation dashboard
Thrive Comment is a plugin that is packed with features and is incredibly popular.
The addition of the Upvoting ability is one that many other plugins do not offer and the fact that Thrive is fully focused on conversion means that you have the potential to make more out of your website than you may have thought possible.
At the time of writing, prices run from just $39 for a single license, $45 for up to 5 licenses (normal price $195) to $97 for up to 15 licenses (normal price $585). And there’s a full 30-day money back guarantee thrown in for good measure