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WordPress SEO: Is your bandwidth usage up and your blog loading slowly? (Quick Fix)

Has it ever happened to you that your blog is loading slow, but your stats indicate you didn’t have many visitors, so you ended up blaming the web hosting service provider? If this is you, you may want to read on, because high bandwidth usage and slow loading times could be caused due to an issue on your end, and this will affect your SEO.

What causes slow loading times

WordPress blogs that are loading slow can usually be optimized by reducing the image size, cutting back on the amount of plugins, moving scripts to the footer, enabling proper caching and compression, and minification of scripts and code on your website. However, if your slow loading times are paired with high bandwidth usage, the actual issue might be that others are hotlinking to images and/or other files on your site.

What is hotlinking?

Hotlinking is the practice of linking to content on someone elses blog or website in order to display it on your own site. Instead of saving pictures and files on your server, they are loaded from a different location each time a visitor lands on your page This can either be done intentionally or unintentionally. Usually people will just copy part of a post they like and paste it on their website without even realizing that the links are still pointing to your domain.

If over time more people start hotlinking to your blog, or you are unfortunate enough to have a high traffic site hotlink your files, your blog can become considerably less responsive, and you will also notice a peak in bandwidth use. But stay calm, there is an easy solution that can both repair and prevent hotlinks to your website.

The perfect solution

Hotlinking can be prevented and/or stopped by adding a few lines of code to your .htaccess file. Where to find this file I hear you say. Easy. It’s in the directory where wordpress was installed. If you have wordpress installed in a subdirectory you may also choose to add the code to the .htaccess file in the root directory.

To access the wordpress directory you can use an FTP/SFTP program such as FileZilla. FileZilla is open source software so it won’t cost you any money. You can get the login details from your hosting company, or if have a WordPress Business or e-commerce plan you can click here to obtain your credentials.

.htaccess in filezilla
This is what the .htaccess file in FileZilla looks like after logging in with the ftp credentials

I can now click on the right mouse button, then click edit, and by default notepad will be opened which allows me to edit or add any code desired.

.htaccess file in notepad
An example of what the .htaccess file looks like after opening it in the text editor

Now all you have to do is to add the following lines:


RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(www\.)?*$ [NC]
RewriteRule \.(gif|jpg|png|js|css)$ - [F]

In the example above, change YOURSITE to your domain name and this will stop any hotlinked images from loading. This is the preferred way if you just want to quickly put an end to the situation.


RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(www\.)?*$ [NC] 
RewriteRule \.(gif|jpg)$ [R,L]

As you can see above I am only preventing gif and jpg images from being hotlinked this time. Stophotlinking.gif is the image that will be loaded on any blogs that have hotlinked to my site. You can change the image location to any other of your choice. The stophotlinking gif is intended to communicate that hotlinking has been disabled on your server.

In the rewrite rule you can insert any type of file extension you want in order to block them from loading. For example you could replace (gif|jpg) with (jpeg|JPEG|jpe|JPE|jpg|JPG|gif|GIF|png|PNG|mng|MNG), or even add video and audio extensions such as mp3 or mp4.

That’s all for now folks, thanks for reading to the end and I hope that you will say goodby to all your hotlinking problems for once and forever! If you found this post useful please like, comment and share!

Best Wishes, Debby

Notes: Several WordPress SEO plugins are on the fritz (1), Yoast WordPress plugin advantages and disadvantages for your optimization (2). WordPress SEO for beginners, 10 things to do now to improve your score (3). Seven terms you need to know if you are a self-hosted blogger (4). Tools you should use to fix your website speed (5)

Published by Debby Winter

I will accompany you with the creation of a successful and well-ranking website that is deeply meaningful and exquisite on all levels. Learn SEO marketing with free tools, SEO optimization and software reviews. Offering affordable SEO services for small business in San Francisco, California, and at an international level.

9 thoughts on “WordPress SEO: Is your bandwidth usage up and your blog loading slowly? (Quick Fix)

  1. Hi Debby, hope you are having a blessed week so far. I really appreciate your helping me fix my follow button issue. Thanks for this useful information as well. Hope all is well in your world friend. Sending love and hugs to you. β€οΈπŸ’•πŸ€—Joni

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Debby,
    This is very useful. We normally edit the .htaccess file for other things such as changing the wordpress upload limit, but not many are aware of hotlinking. It is a major factor in the website speed. Thanks for mentioning the code to add and sharing this important article.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had a serious problem with hotlinking of video and audio files in the past, it’s one of those things which you either learn or experience before you prepare yourself beforehand. Thanks for taking the time to drop by and comment.


  4. Yes, I can’t find my comment now, have been looking for a while. I sent the screen that WP sent me on how to put my button at the top. They told me it was no extra cost and it was fairly simple. I copied and pasted the text directly into my comment so you could see it. I don’t know where it is now. Sorry, Debby. They sent me a set of instructions – we went into customize then sidebar and then we picked a follow widget. (something like that) I don’t know why I can’t find it. I would never leave you hanging Debby, you have been way too gracious to me. You are a blessing to all of us WordPress folks. I hope you think it looks ok now. I hope you are being careful at work my friend. Sending prayers for safety and lots of love your way. Love Joni

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you Joni for taking the time to look into this and for writing such a lengthy reply. I really appreciate you explaining everything that happened in such detail. You are such a sweetheart, my prayers are with you and your family always. Take good care of yourself! With love, Debby πŸ’– 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I always enable WP Super Cache on WordPress blogs I work on, it improves speed and SEO, and it works very well together with the Jetpack speed improvements. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment, wishing you a happy day! πŸ™‚


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