In my last post about site speed as a new search engine factor, I hopefully convinced you how important it is to improve your site speed.
However, as most of you know, I am not a big fan of theory.
I am more of “Don’t tell me WHAT, tell me HOW” kindda gal.
And here lies the problem.
After I wrote the first post and moved on to the practical nitty-gritty of the topic, I realized that the web is FULL of brilliant theory on the matter, but not the practical tips for an AVERAGE blogger like you and me.
It really sounded like you needed a PhD in programming to make your site any faster…
I am stubborn though…:) and a bit OCD, which definitely helped in this situation.
So after a lot of trial and error, which some of you reading my blog in the past few days noticed since it was in a constant state of disarray, and with help of my good friend Dev Sharma of TechNShare.com, I managed to come up with the list of practical tips you can implement today to speed up your blog.
To give you a starting point for this guide, I am posting a screen shot of my blog performance as per Google Webmaster Tools.
If you don’t have a free Webmaster Tools account, you should get it right now.
After you log in, you’ll see your dashboard to the left. Go under “Labs” and then “Site Performance” to check out your own stats on this.
As you can see from the image above, pages on my blog take 6.5 seconds to download. That’s on average, mind you; some pages took as long as 20 seconds to download! That’s SLOWER than 84% of all sites.
By the way, 2 seconds is what’s considered to be acceptable site speed.
(I can’t believe how embarrassing it is to share those appalling numbers with you, but then again – I showed you mine, you show me yours and we’ll see who comes out ahead!)
Now let me stop talking and get to the point: how do we improve our site speed?
1. Update to the latest version of WordPress.
Seems to be an obvious one, yet I know many bloggers don’t upgrade when they should for fear of “messing up their blog”. Back it up and do it!
2. Delete plugins without mercy
We are all guilty of this one.
“But this one looks so shiny and it comes in a pretty package! Plus, my friend has it…”
So we go ahead and keep loading more and more plugins, without realizing that the very thing we hope will increase our blog usability actually significantly decreases it instead.
Show me a reader who is willing to wait for 10-20 seconds to load a page on your blog? That’s my point.
3. Use videos sparingly
Particularly, in your sidebars. Remember, your sidebars load on EVERY page and so do your videos. Do your readers really watch them?
4. Use a slash at the end of your links
Let me explain why first.
When a server opens a link that looks like this: “http://www.TrafficGenerationCafe.com/about“, it will have to take time to figure out what content is attached to that link.
If, however, the link has a slash “/” at the end like this “http://www.TrafficGenerationCafe.com/about/“, then the server knows exactly which directory it points to, thus reducing the time to load the page.
This is a very simple change to make.
In your WP dashboard, go to Settings, then Permalinks. We won’t argue about the best permalink structure, but I think it’s /%postname%/
Whatever structure you chose, make sure you have a slash at the end to close your link.
The improvement on the loading time of links ending with a slash will not be astronomical, but when it comes to speeding up a website every small bit helps.
5. Optimize Images
Images are necessary to draw readers attention, no question about that.
Yet, they happen to play a huge factor in slowing your site down.
Solution? Optimize your images before you post them to your site.
By “optimizing” your images, I mean reducing them in size and quality to the point where a reader can’t really tell the difference, but the image file size is drastically smaller.
Ways to do that:
- Crop all the white space around images.
- If using Photoshop or other photo editing software, make sure to use “Save for the web” option.
- Use Online Image Optimizer by Dynamic Drive. There are many others, but this one is my favorite. It’s free (!) and you can save your image as JPEG, PNG, GIF. From personal experience: JPEG version gives you the most options and when your image is ready just drag and drop it to your desktop.
I know going through your old images is a pain in the neck – after all, there may be hundreds of them on your blog!
However, you should definitely start using this technique for all future posts.
PLUS, go back and optimize ALL the images that load on every page, like your header and images in your sidebars.
6. Dump external ads
Unless you are making real money worth writing home about, DUMP them. Things like external banner ads and Google AdSense do contribute to slow websites AND frustrating user experience.
These are very simple and non-technical tips that ANYONE should be able to easily implement on any blog/website. Invest 10 minutes of your time to see some great long-term results.
By the way, I’ve got more tips. Just didn’t want to overwhelm you in one day (I hear a faint “Thank you, Ana”). You are welcome.
Do let me know what your site speed is right now though; I’d love to compare notes!
Love it or hate it? Comment to show me that you’ve alive!
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