Site speed is one of the 200 Google web search ranking factors. This underlines the need to seriously consider and give importance to any attempt at reducing the load time of our blogs. If you want to rank higher on SERP, you should pay attention to your blog speed.
While relevance remains an important ranking factor, Google does not neglect speed. The reason is that if it ranks slow sites, people will use it less for search. You understand why you must strive to increase the load speed of your blog?
A lot of blogs out there have load time issues that could affect their ranking. I’m sure you’ll not want yours to be part of these.
NB: Take note of this image. I’ll say a few things about it below
The truth is, my blog has been very slow, taking over 10 seconds to load. This played heavily negatively against my Search Engine Ranking. I was shocked when I used Google page Speed, Neil Patel’s quicksprout, Gtmetrix and Yahoo’s YSlow and analyzed my blog speed and performance. Instantly, I saw the need to speed up. Before I go into telling you exactly what I did so you can copy my method, let’s answer one relevant question.
But how slow is too slow?
Google recommends improving loading speed when it is slower than 95% of sites. Generally, sites at this level will take over 5 seconds to load. So my take is to tweak till you are less than 2 seconds. A couple of things to consider are your web host, your theme, plugins, images, etc. So let’s see exactly what I did to bring down my loading time from 10+ seconds to 3 seconds.
WordPress Blog Performance Optimization, 10 to 3
My blog is currently being hosted on one of Hostgator’s shared servers. Though this is performing well, moving to a vpn or some WordPress dedicated hosting option could do better. If you are on HostGator, or Bluehost (and a couple of others), you may not experience any major server issues like slowed down server response time. However, there are 4 things I did that make things better:
1 – I got w3 Total Cache plugin installed
This is one of the most recommended speed and performance plugins with a hand full of options. In one of my up coming posts, I’ll be giving you detailed materials how to set this plugin to achieve the best. However, this plugin is quite easy to set up. Most of the configurations have been handled by default.
2 – I signed up to CloudFlare
One of the things I did was created a free account on cloudflare.com Content Delivery Networks are highly recommended options if you really need speed. CloudFlare has a free option which I recommend to start with. While I have plans to upgrade for more performance, I’m currently experimenting with the free plan. You can get a free CloudFlare account from within your W3 Total Cash CDN menu or from cPanel dashboard. Well, I found that option with HostGator.
W3 Total Cache enables you to link up with your CloudFlare account making the set up process a quite easy and friendly one
3 – I got WP SmushIt installed
Now, images were some of the things that caused a lot of weight on my blog. SmushIt by yahoo is an exceptionally good plugin that does a ‘lossless’ compression of your images. What this means is it uses optimization techniques specific to image format to remove unnecessary bytes from image files. Smush.it will optimizes your images without changing their look or visual quality.
In WordPress, SmushIt automatically optimize images while they get uploaded to the library. You can also run your existing images through Smush.it via your Media Library . Click on the Smush.it now! link for any image you’d like to smush. As of version 1.4.0 there is a new, experimental Bulk Smush.it feature. You can find the link under the Media Library tab. Grab the plugin here
Some of my image files size got remarkably reduced from 80kb down to 5kb with no quality distortion
4 – I got BJ Lazy load
This plugin replaces all your post images, post thumbnails, gravatar images and content iframes with a placeholder and loads the content as it gets close to enter the browser window when the visitor scrolls the page. It makes your site load faster and saves bandwidth. While this seems to be producing desired results, I’m still watching it carefully.
Have my speed and general performance really been improved?
Yes! There has been a significant improvement in speed and general performance and that’s why I’m writing this post so you can clone my process. Note that I have not removed any plugins yet which is what I plan to do to gain some more time.
What I plan to do next
I’m really STILL NOT satisfied. I want to bring down my speed to less than 2 seconds by removing some plugins, moving to a paid CDN solution and relocating my blog from HostGator shared hosting to a VPN option or a more dedicated WordPress Host.
In the first image above, you notice my speed now stands at 3.65 seconds, 1mb page size and 68 requests. These are performance factors I need to work on in the next few days to give my visitors a more comfortable experience and hopefully get a better SERP position.
I’d like to hear from you! What’s your speed? Are you comfortable? Can you share with us some of the tips to get a faster blog? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.