The much anticipated PHP Version 7 is now officially released!
PHP, which actually stands for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor, is an open-source server-side scripting language and web development platform. It’s the platform that WordPress is written in. Considering that something like 23% of the world’s websites are WordPress, PHP is a big deal. In fact, even Facebook was originally coded in PHP and today runs on a variant of PHP which they developed themselves.
I can already see you marketing types rolling your eyes at this technical stuff. But pay attention. PHP 7 is directly relevant to you, and here’s why:
That’s right: simply by upgrading your WordPress websites to PHP 7 – which takes just a few mouse clicks – you’ll get an immediate performance boost. It’s probably the easiest speed increase you’ll ever get.
Your visitors should like that – and your SEO search ranking might too.
If you’re curious, the Official PHP 7 Announcement gives a number of reasons why PHP 7 is so much faster. The short story is that PHP 7 is re-architected from the ground up and incorporates the dramatically improved Zend Engine 3.0. Also, unlike prior versions, PHP 7 natively supports 64 bit servers and has much more efficient memory management.
Now, to properly set your expectation: remember that many factors affect overall website performance, not just the underlying platform speed. For example, web traffic and connection bandwidth play key parts. Not to mention that many websites are hosted in shared environments with widely varying loads. The responsiveness that your website visitors experience is determined by all of these factors combined.
But if your hosting provider gives you the option to select your PHP version (not all of them do), you should definitely go ahead and upgrade your WordPress sites to PHP 7. I already did, and the performance increase was clearly noticeable.
To do it yourself, here are the typical steps you will take:
- Log in to your hosting account’s control panel (e.g. cPanel)
- Open the PHP Version Manager widget
- Navigate to the home directory of your website
- Click on the directory name, select PHP 7, click save
Or, you can just send in a support ticket and your hosting provider can make the change for you.