Udit Goenka

Ghost vs Wordpress: How to get 130.36% Faster Loading Blog [Case Study]

Udit GoenkaUdit Goenka

I know you love WordPress..

In fact, you can't live without WordPress..

..but, did you know there are better platforms available in the market that are equally good, if not better than, WordPress?

That are just meant for BLOGGING!

I'm talking about Ghost CMS, which is an incredible platform if you just want to focus on blogging, improve your contents and grow.

In this article, I will show you the difference between Ghost vs Wordpress, and why I decided to ditch WordPress altogether for blogging purposes.the

ghost vs wordpress

Click Here to download the PDF version of this blog article

# Things You Need to Know About WordPress & Ghost

Background about WordPress (Just an Overview)

WordPress was founded back on May 27, 2003; almost 13 years ago[] at the time of this writing, built on PHP by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little.

During those days, Joomla used to lead the CMS world..

..but the fact that WordPress had a much better UI started winning over users from around the world.

Today, after 13 years, Wordpress powers close to 28% of the entire web.

It also clearly, dominates the CMS industry by capturing over 67% of the market.

Background about Ghost (Just an Overview)

Ghost Blogging CMS was initially released on 14th October 2013 by John O'Nolan.

He says,

Ghost is an open source blogging platform which makes writing pleasurable and publishing simple.

That led him to create his Kickstarter Campaign and he broke the internet by raising close to £196,362.

ghost kickstarter campaign

Ghost CMS is built on NodeJS which is a hot new coding language being adopted by a lot of companies to speed up the website and applications.

You might ask is ghost blog free?

Yes! Ghost is an open source project, and it's 100% free..

..you can download the self hosted ghost from here.

# Biggest Challenge with WordPress

WordPress is undoubtedly an amazing platform..

I started my career on WordPress and designed some crappy looking website about eight years ago (I have grown since then) when I was starting my Internet journey.

My company Power Up Hosting, Inc.'s managed wordpress hosting proudly hosts close to 20,000+ WordPress sites.

..but there are some significant challenges.

WordPress has grown from a normal blogging platform to a full-fledged Content Management System.

You could say it's durn good, but this shift has also lead to several issues.

WordPress's plugin system is a boon to the CMS industry because even someone who doesn't know how to write "Hello World" code, can start his/her website today with the help of WordPress.

..but you require a plugin for pretty much everything if you don't know how to code, from Configuring SEO settings to pretty much everything.

This can be good, as you get the functionality you look for right away, but it can be awfully frustrating since it slows down your website big time.

Most of the plugins are coded by various developers and each developer has his own way of writing codes, leading to slow communication between the website and each plugin.

From my personal experience, where I communicate with hundreds of our client every day, website designers use around 11-13 plugins on an average for each website, and their biggest challenge is slow loading websites.

In fact, until version 4.0, Power Up Hosting's website was fully built on WordPress.

However, I ditched WordPress and moved my entire site to Facebook's React Framework and Ghost for our blog.

Even my recent PBN Hosting project is based on the same technology as React and Ghost.

Another big challenge is with that WordPress themes..

..it requires lots of optimization because there is too much happening with the theme; most of the themes are built on a framework and plugins, which can have strange interactions with the plugins.

For highest level optimized theme, I would recommend you to check out, MyThemeShop which is my personal favorite playground for all WordPress themes that I use for my niche websites.

I have gotten some amazing results that I will share in the later part of this tutorial.

If you want to skip rest of the reading, then you can click here to jump to that section.

# Ghost vs WordPress as a Blog Engine

Ghost creates beautiful blog

I have just one word for Ghost Blog CMS, "It's Beautiful" Sorry, I meant two words!

Ghost, as I was talking earlier, is built on NodeJS powered by Expres framework.

The most beautiful part about Ghost is that you don't need any plugin.

You might be wondering, what about the SEO creeps and stuff?

Let me tell you:

Ghost handles everything with ease! They have coded everything into the core of the software so that you don't need many plugins.

That makes Ghost quick and easy to implement, and I don't have to deal with optimizing my site or pages for better loading speed.

I can simply just log in and do distraction free blogging. I will cover more about the UI in a later part of this article.

[Screenshot here of the page]

# WordPress vs Ghost as Website

This is where WordPress takes a big leap over Ghost.

Ghost is designed beautifully for blogging purposes but lacks the flexibility when comes to building the website.

Whereas WordPress has grown to become an amazing CMS that can help you build a website in less than a day.

You might ask..

Udit, "then why not just use WordPress?"

To some extent, you could, but..

Look:

Your Web Pages are constant; you build them once, and you don't touch those pages unless you are doing some major changes.

Your busiest section on your entire website would be your blog because you could be doing a product review, or working on your next blog post, or making an update about your company's monthly progress.

Which means you need to make sure your blogs are well designed and easy to read, so you need fo focus a lot of attention on this aspect of the website.

That would lead to your next question..

Why not have both?

You could, but it's very language because WordPress is built on PHP, while Ghost runs on NodeJS..

Unless you have some good technical knowledge, it will be a bit tedious to figure out.

Hence, making a decision is crucial.

This is where I would recommend building your site on a bootstrap React Framework.

Or..you can just use plain HTML for your website.

But if you are on a budget, and technicality is not your cup of tea, then..

WordPress takes a big lead over Ghost just because WordPress has been around for a lot longer.

If you are not very technical and need a full-fledged site, then Wordpress is a better option for your requirements.

P.S. My Blog is built on React Framework and Ghost :)

# Ghost vs Wordpress Performance, Speedtest and Optimization

I am sure you will love this section where I will be posting some real stats.

For this purpose, to make things fair, instead of using my own company's server..

I will deploy a couple of droplets with DigitalOcean.

Both the Droplets would be located the New York location

WordPress Installation, Tests and Run as a blog

Here:

I began installing WordPress as you can see in the screenshot..

I picked WordPres 4.7 version on Ubuntu 16.04

digital ocean wordpress droplet

I picked their smallest plan since this is just a test:

digitalocean 5 dollar droplet

Next:

I selected the New York Location as I had mentioned before..

digitalocean new york datacenter

I will be running a total of two tests, one on GTmetrix

And the second test would be on Pingdom Tools

Now:

The fun part begins...

I ran the first test on GTmetrix with the default setup.

Dallas is what I picked to run the tests from as that's the closest location they have available in their list.

gtmetrix wordpress speedtest

As you can see, here are the Performance Stats for the test that I ran on GTM:

==
PageSpeed Score: 98%
YSlow Score: 78%
Page Load Time: 1.5s
Total Page Size: 258KB
Requests: 14==

That's very impressive for WordPress out of the box setup.

Now we'll run Pingdom Tools

Now:

I decided to select New York as my preferred location.

Here are the results:

pingdom wordpress new york

Perfomance Grade: 88
Load time: 364ms
Faster Than 98% of the trusted sites
Page Size: 291.4kb
Requests: 14
Tested From New York City

Ghost Installation, Tests and Run as a blog

Here:

I began installing Ghost version 0.11.3 on Ubuntu 16.04 as you can see in the screenshot:

digitalocean ghost droplet

Next:

As WordPress, I selected the same location and same datacenter in New York.

I picked their smallest plan once since this is just a test:

digitalocean 5 dollar droplet

Now:

Got the New York Datacenter once again..

digitalocean new york datacenter

Again:

The fun part begins..

I ran the first test on GTmetrix with the default setup and same location as WordPress

gtmetrix ghost speedtest

Here are the performance stats for the test:

==
PageSpeed Score:100%
YSlow Score: 95%
Page Load Time: 0.8s
Total Page Size: 112 KB
Requests: 10==

As impressive as the WordPress stats were, these are even moreso.w

Time for Pingdom Tools Test:

pingdom ghost new york

Here are the Performance Stats:

==
Performance Grade: 88
Load Time: 328ms
Faster than 98%
Page Size: 121.1 kB
Requests: 10
Tested from Dallas==

That's a performance improvement of over 130.36%, in terms of loading time

The power behind such incredible performance is NodeJS.

Trust me; you will get similar results when you run a test even when you have a post on Ghost full of contents, images, and videos.

..and surely the last thing you want is visitors leaving your website due to slow loading speed.

If the above reason is not sufficient for you to switch your blogging engine to Ghost, I'd be hard-pressed to find a better one.

# Increase in Visitors

Look:

I am going to share some real data that will really amaze you.

Here:

Switching to Ghost has improved the number of visitors on my company’s website

new poweruphosting website

If you see that small dip, that was the day when I started working on the migration.

After that, the loading speed of the site went down from 3.5seconds to close to 1.2seconds and the blog loads in less than a second.

Not only that, I have seen an increase in sale by 36.2% on a month-to-month basis, just by switching to a faster technology.

So:

If you are yet to build your blog, then you should consider Ghost as your preferred blogging engine.

# Handling & Managing SEO with WordPress & Ghost.

This is the most critical section; I would recommend you not to skip on this.

Let's begin with the SEO settings right away!

The biggest challenge with WordPress is this:

Many of the required SEO settings are not built directly into the core of the CMS which is very much needed in the modern era..

But this where the Kickstarter-backed CMS Ghost leads the CMS category.

Let me first talk about WordPress, and the plugins that are required for SEO purpose.

WordPress gets heavily spammed; if you have Disqus setup then you are good or else you require Akismet

Next:

You would require downloading Yoast SEO or All in One SEO Pack

Both the above plugins have got tons of SEO settings, that requires a whole different optimization process.

Next:

You would require a cache plugin, and two of the most popular cache plugins are W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache

The cache plugin is vital to speed up WordPress..

(I will be soon covering a separate guide for each of those above plugins along with several WordPress optimization guides)

Click Here to Subscribe and get informed

As you can see, that's a lot of plugins already, on top of which we are talking about more optimization plugins for various purpose.

The biggest challenge, after all, is to pick the right WordPress theme for your website. If you pick the wrong theme, then that could lead to some serious issues with your site's loading speed.

Finally, you will require one of the Social Media Open Graphics and Twitter Cards plugins to optimize your contents for social media.

I highly recommend you to go with StupdioPress Framework or Mythemeshop for WordPress Websites.

Now:

Let's talk about Ghost blogging CMS, and how it handles the several SEO settings as compared to WordPress that was discussed above.

First:

The most beautiful thing about Ghost is the entire blogging engine is built on NodeJS with Handlebars as the templating system.

Most of the above feature in WordPress, each requiring a plugin are coded into the core of the Ghost application.

Let's first talk about the Meta Title and Description:

ghost meta data

Just select the Meta Data Option, and then you see the following:

ghost meta title description

You will be presented with the above two options where you can enter your Meta Title and Description.

The best part is the inbuilt Counter for both Meta Title and Description.

This can save you lot of time..

..and the best part?

The above settings will setup your Facebook's Open Graph Tags & Twitter's Card at the same time.

ghost facebook og tags twitter cards

As you can see, all the SEO settings, along with the images, etc. have been set automatically.

One Drawback is that:

If you are looking to have different images for different social media, then that is something Ghost doesn't support until today.

Though you can always make changes to the core of the CMS but avoid that..

Ghost is still in the developing stage, so if you have any suggestions then you can submit a request over here.

To run on page SEO analysis test, you can use woorank

# Frustration with WordPress and the reason to switch to Ghost

Loading Speed!

That's one phrase I associate with WordPress.

WordPress has grown so much that has moved away from just being a blogging CMS to full-frame CMS.

Unless you spend a good amount of time on optimization (theme, plugins, server), you cannot expect a good loading time as compared to Ghost, which has amazing load speed out of the box.

When I started working on Power Up Hosting's blog, my biggest challenge was to ensure how to make sure that the people coming to my website were sticking around for long..

..I found that a quick loading impresses them, and that those visitors stick around for a longer time.

While WordPress is superb, I found it a lot more expensive to fine-tune and maintain WordPress for my ongoing blogging purpose where I am publishing a lot of contents lately.

I decided to give Ghost CMS a try, and used it for the first time on GoPBN's blog.

Not only I am ranking very well for my targetted keywords, but, but my Bounce and Exit % is quite impressive. (You can learn more about Keywords and Keyword Research)

gopbn bounce rate

Also:

P.S. CMSes aren't magic wands, you still need to focus on high-quality contents

# How Ghost’s amazing UI makes you want to write more!

Before I even begin bragging about their UI, let me say this..

..it's so beautiful that it makes want to write more..

My production has gone from 1000 words per day (On WordPress) up to 2500-3000 words per day (On Ghost)..

Reason?

Distraction free writing.

Let me start describing the UI..

Let me begin with their New Post section

ghost new post

That's amazingly beautiful distraction-free UI..

Here is how the sidebar looks:

ghost sidebar

Here are the Markdown Options for Ghost Formatting:

ghost markdown

The Best Feature?

Wait for it..

Here:

ghost code preview area

Real time live preview of your codes, formatting, and everything else..

The real time update has saved me countless hours of production time..

..that has resulted in more words per day for me..

“Ghost's UI and Performance will inspire you to write more”— Udit Goenka

# How to get started with Ghost as your preferred Blogging Platform

With all the above information I provided..

..I have hopefully given you enough reasons to pick Ghost over WordPress when it comes to the blogging engine.

To Get Started:

Head over to Ghost you can read this amazing guide written by the ghost team

You should be good to go!

If you are looking to installing on a Linux server then watch out, my company will be posting a detailed step by step guide.

Click Here to Subscribe and get notified

# My Favorite Ghost blog themes & Ghost Blog Examples

Here are my top 5 favorite Ghost Blog Theme that you can use for your blog!

1)Maxima - Minimal Blog and Magazine Ghost Theme

maxima ghost theme

Extremely clean, and very well coded theme. If you are into general blogging then this theme can be a perfect fit for your needs.

2) Mino - Content Focused Ghost Blog Theme

mino ghost theme

This theme is a bit similar with my theme..

..amazing..full screen and middle layout! with everything nicely organized and clean.

Perfect for your personal or company blog..

3)Erica - Masonry Blog Ghost Theme

erica ghost theme

If you are a big fan of Masonry theme, then Erica theme should be your first and last choice.

Very well coded, clean design and your readers will love it!

4)Petty - Multi-layout Ghost Blog Theme

petty ghost theme

Feeling like getting over delivered?

Get yourself treated with the Petty theme, one of the beautifully coded Multi-Page Ghost Blog Theme..

You can experiment with different blog sections, and styles to see what fits best for your requirement.

5)Lens - Multipurpose Responsive Ghost Theme

lens ghost theme

Looking for a full screen, a bit fancy and Magazine style blog theme?

Lens is one of the most accomplished Multipurpose Ghost blog themes; that's not only fancy..

..but also very clean!

# Challenges associated with Ghost

Nothing is perfect!

..not even me..

..so how can be Ghost so perfect?

I have given you a lot of reasons why you should go with Ghost as your blogging CMS..

..but there’s one way as of now where WordPress pulls ahead of Ghost as a frame, and that's scalability.

WordPress has been around for years, and the number of themes, plugins, developers and support that you will find for WordPress..

..you won't it very easily for Ghost Blogging CMS.

Keeping that in mind, if the above factor doesn't stops you, and if you don't need any fancy plugin then Ghost should be your blogging CMS destination!

# Incredible community support

Support!

I know this would be very debatable.. but let me share my experience...

WordPress has undoubtedly got the largest support base in the world..

You open a thread on any forum that talks about WordPress and you will see people popping in and giving suggestion or recommendation for a certain plugin or theme..

..but you will never get direct support from the team of WordPress..

This is where I feel Ghost team completely won my heart..

Several months ago, while Integration GoPBN Blog's API

..and I went on Ghost's Slack to get some help..

What happened next?

The entire community came and tried giving me a solution for my issue, and one of the team members ever raise a GitHub issue around my query.

I was impressed, and that day I felt it's not about how big a certain community is..

..but it's about how much they care about their users..

Ghost Community is incredible.

I totally support if you are just looking for blogs!

# Conclusion

Keeping my above entire post in mind, let me clear that I love Ghost and WordPress equally.

In fact, I have several other projects, and my client's project running on WordPress.

In the end, it all comes down to the requirement and setup that suits best for each of your project..

Ghost as a blogging engine is amazing, and with the ongoing development, I hope it only gets better.

I hope you enjoyed my post, and if you did then please share the article on your preferred social media platform..

..and if you have any doubts, suggestion or feedback then please leave a comment below! :)

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