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How to Improve WordPress Site Speed
Site speed directly affects search ranking. How precisely it affects rankings we aren’t entirely clear on, but we know that it does—and that slow isn’t good. A large number of our very happy Blue Corona clients have a site that is developed on the WordPress CMS (Content Management System), which makes it very easy to add content and distribute it to the world.
Unfortunately, it can be easy to get trapped with all the bells and whistles available to customize your site, and many of them can drastically affect site speed, which can impact web pages’ rankings.
Here are some things to avoid and some problem solving tips from your web team at Blue Corona.
Things That Slow Your Website Down
Terrible Hosting and the Impact It Has on Your Site Speed
We cannot stress enough how important good hosting is to your website and, in most cases, your business. In a previous post, we wrote about the potential loss of revenue based on your website going down or being inaccessible for even one minute. Good hosting is absolutely essential to site speed and user experience and Google knows this. Trust us, we have the numbers to prove it.
Too Many WordPress Plugins Can Impact Site Speed
WordPress was created with the non-programmer/blogger in mind. With WordPress, you can have a fully functional site without knowing or typing a lick of code. The amount of plugins out there that are meant to help your site look and feel the way you want (aka UX or user experience) is growing at an exponential rate. Unfortunately, this can be like a rich kid in a candy shop—almost everything is free and the amount of things you can do to your website is absolutely endless.
There is a lot of junk out there, so stick close to those plugins with a lot of downloads and high ratings. Make sure that the plugin you are using is compatible with the version of WordPress you have and that it is regularly updated and supported. Problems in the plugin area can be:
- Too many plugins – they can be quite large and take up a lot of space.
- Unused plugins – delete them… you can always download them again if you need them.
- Competing plugins – Multiple SEO plugins, for example (potential site wide catastrophe)
- Low quality plugins
- Plugins incompatible with WordPress version
Does Your WordPress Theme Affect Side Speed?
You can only display one theme at a time; there is no need to have multiple WordPress themes on your server. Also, a theme that is lightweight is always a good touch for site speed. Custom made WordPress themes or hand-coded WordPress sites offer a unique opportunity to have exactly what you want and nothing that you don’t.
Should You Turn Off Comments in WordPress?
WordPress was originally built with the common blogger in mind, and commenting on said blogger’s material was a great way for verbose intellectuals to stroke their ego. If you are like most of our clients, your website is a billboard and a lead generating maniac, not a place for people to plug their own website or hot link photos and content.
WordPress has their own page dedicated to combatting spam comments here. Unless there is a very good reason, turn off comments all together. You’ll be glad you did. If people really want to get in touch with you, they will do it through the appropriate contact forms (which should be readily accessible from almost every page).
Image Size & Site Speed
The quality of a picture will often be evident in the file size. Ideally, you want to keep your image at the highest quality with the lowest possible file size. Remember: the more the browser has to load, the longer it takes and the further down the site speed slide you go. For those of you who don’t have access to the Adobe Creative suite, there are a bunch of online image optimizers out there.
One thing that we at Blue Corona have discovered to be effective, yet time consuming, is using what’s called a Scalable Vector Graphic or SVG. SVG graphics do NOT lose any quality if they are zoomed or resized and are commonly 10X smaller than the graphic saved as a PNG or a JPEG. They’re fantastic for responsive web design and site speed.
What We Do to Help Our Clients Achieve Optimal Speed
Site Caching to Improve Speed
Some components of a website are totally necessary and can sometimes be quite large… like a style sheet or JQuery library (click for more info). In these types of situations, there are “Caching plugins” that allow these file to be “minimized” or shrunk in order to save space and load time.
We use a plugin for this called W3 Total Cache that enables us to manage all aspects of site speed performance through a great interface.
Custom Built WordPress Websites
We have (if I may say so) one of the best web teams in the world, and we have the portfolio to prove it. Having a custom built site can be of HUGE benefit to your brand, image, and even your revenue generation. Having a site designed and built by experienced professionals who actually care about their work is an experience quite unlike anything else.
If you think that sounds expensive, just know that it doesn’t have to be. We have affordable sites for even the most meager of budgets. Check this out.
Remove Commenting on WordPress
On more than one occasion, we have completely deleted even the ability to comment on our clients’ websites. Sometimes it can be effective for SEO purposes for a discussion to develop to and from your site using your blog. Be cautious, as this can have an adverse effect to what you originally had intended.
Focus on the best possible image quality with the smallest file size. The W3 Total Cache plugin we use has an image compressor included in it. If you can, use an SVG whenever possible. Plugins are available for SVG implementation, as the file type “.svg” is not recognizable by WordPress (yet). If you have a massive amount of HD pictures, you may want to get a CDN or Content Delivery Network.
We only use plugins that have been tested and trusted for a very long time. More often than not, paying for the premium version of a plugin can more beneficial than you think. It’s a fine line, so do your research. Moreover, trust the masses. If 22,000 people say a plugin is legit, then it probably is. If the version is 1.0.1, you may want to pick a different plugin that has been a little more debugged.
The Quick Complicated Explanation (for you nerds out there)
WordPress pages are what’s called “Dynamically Populated,” meaning the pages are put together when you click on the link for the page. Remember: the more content that your browser has to look through for the content… the longer it will take.
For more information about how we can help speed up your site, contact us or call us at 800.696.4690.
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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