Issue #171

Sent to members on July 6, 2018

Your site’s speed

OK, next up we’ve got to talk about some technical things which will very much affect your blog traffic. First up…

Site speed.

You’ve no doubt heard about it. You’ve heard that how fast your site loads up will affect how well your site ranks in search. Google is trying to ensure a great user experience for their own users and part of that is sending searchers to sites which actually load up without a bunch of wait time.

Now, the actual practice of ensuring your site loads quickly can easily turn into a black hole. It is one of those tasks where you are never truly done. No matter how fast you make a site, it can always be faster with a little extra tweaking.

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But, we don’t need to go crazy about it. You know how you, as an internet user, want sites to load up. As long as your site is like that, you’re good. I’d say that your page should be able to fully load up within 2-3 seconds – tops.

You can use a service like Pingdom to test your site. You can go right to the big kahuna and have Google test it with PageSpeed Insights, too.

Chances are when you run those tests, you’re not going to get perfect scores. You never do. Not only that, reality is that some of the things those sites will point out as “problems” aren’t really problems and you couldn’t really do anything about it. So, remember, this isn’t absolutist.

Some things you can do to increase the speed of your blog are:

  • Use a solid web host. I generally recommend Siteground to most of my new bloggers (here’s why), but there’s a reason I prefer (and personally use) WPEngine. WPEngine has a lot of the server performance built right in, including CDN. Of course, you have to have it enabled to do the job (and as I look here, I had the CDN turned off on my WPEngine account for some reason. Doh!)
  • Content Delivery Network. If your web host doesn’t have CDN built in, then you can use a third-party like MaxCDN.  (Watch: What is a Content Delivery Network?) I used to use MaxCDN myself until I switched to WPEngine and didn’t need them anymore.
  • Clean up your code. If you’re using a professionally designed theme on top of something like Genesis, you’re probably OK. Otherwise, it might make sense to hire a developer to clean up your code. Inefficient and bloated HTML and CSS can add unnecessary bulk to your blog. You can also use plug-ins to “minify” some of your site’s assets. You can check out options like Better WordPress Minify or Autoptimize. These plugins will combine assets on the fly as well as remove all the blank space from javascript and CSS files, thereby “minifying” them. This makes the site faster by reducing the overall filesize.
  • Reduce the number of plug-ins. Every plug-in you add to WordPress adds bulk. Plus, most plug-ins pull in extra resources that load up site-wide. First step is to simply de-activate and remove any plug-in you don’t really need. Secondly, consider adding plug-in profiles to your blog to control where and when plugins are enabled or not. (Read: A Simple Solution To Running Lots Of WordPress Plugins Without Sacrificing Blog Performance)
  • Optimize Your Images. Images add a lot of bulk to the downloadable size of your site, and many images contain extra “payload” that doesn’t impact how well they appear on your site. Removing that payload will reduce file size. Check out WP to optimize your images on your blog.
  • Use W3 Total Cache. A really awesome plug-in if your web host doesn’t do all that stuff for you (Note: WPEngine users don’t need this plug-in).

So, just to summarize…

The speed of your site matters very much when it comes to your search rankings and your traffic.

Don’t look at things like your site hosting as just something to cheap out on. It really does matter.

I mean, you wouldn’t want to try to run a big sports car engine on the lowest octane fuel you can find. The thing will just sputter. And that’s kinda what it’s like when you are trying to build up your blog and online business on the back of low-quality hosting.

– David

Tech Talk

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