Let’s talk about how important site speed is to the success of your blog or website. The maintenance end of blogging can be overwhelming, especially for a beginner. But I’m going to give you 5 simple ways YOU can speed up your WordPress site. Even if you aren’t tech savvy. Even if you’re new to blogging.
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Maintaining the functionality of your site can be boring but necessary. You can avoid dealing with it for a while, but eventually, having a slow website is going to wreak havoc on your success. Having a slow site is not only annoying for your readers, but it’s also terrible for your SEO.
Did you know that Google considers your site speed in their rankings? Google can see how fast your site is. And if it’s slow, you aren’t going to make the first page of a Google search.
Let’s dive into what slows your site down and how you can fix those issues.
Your web host plays a huge roll on your site’s overall speed. Have you done any research into what sort of speed your host offers? Do they have a good or bad reputation in this area?
This is just one of the many reasons I use and love SiteGround for hosting. Site speed is a huge priority to them.
In their own words: “Latest web hosting speed technologies are our passion. It does not matter if it is faster hardware, an innovative network architecture or a new software solution. If there is something that can make your website faster, we will be among the first to implement it.”
How do they get their boast-worthy speed? SiteGround supports HTTP/2 (the newest network protocol) on all their servers. It significantly speeds up the loading of websites in the browser. They really are a cutting edge company who, in my experience, really value their customers. They are well known for their speed, uptime and customer service. SiteGround also makes switching from your current host to them, very easy and affordable. Learn more here.
Images are a great way to break up paragraphs and keep your blog posts looking interesting. But those images can also really slow your site down. When uploading images, stick to PNG and/or JPG format. Avoid TIFF and BMP, which take much longer to load.
Also, try to create/upload your images in the size you will be displaying them on your blog.
For example: Say you create a Pinterest Pin at the Canva recommended size of 735 x 1102px. If you then upload that pin to your site but only display it as say, 230 x 345px, your server and readers will still have to load the full image size. It will take longer and there’s a good chance your readers won’t stick around for those images to load. So be mindful of your image sizes and don’t go bigger than necessary.
If making multiple images in multiple sizes is too much for you, I highly recommend The EWWW Image Optimizer plugin. It optimizes your images by compressing them and can even convert your images to the best file format. They do this without compromising the quality and appearance of your image. Problem solved!
Speaking of plugins, they can also mess with your site speed. If you’ve got a large number of plugins, it means a lot of action is taking place behind the scenes, slowing down your site. The more you add, the slower things will get. And you’ll be taking up more storage space and bandwidth.
Take stock in which plugins you use, love and absolutely need to keep. Delete any you aren’t using at all. And update any that have updates available. Check for updates often – they are available for a reason. Making sure you have the latest version of your plugin will ensure they run smoothly, quickly, and glitch free.
*Tip* – Only update one plugin at a time. They are usually very fast to update and updating a bunch all at once can cause problems.
While having too many plugins can be problematic, having the right ones can make your site faster! Installing a caching plugin can greatly improve your search engine result page ranking and overall page performance.
Wait! What is caching?
Caching is the process of temporarily storing frequently-accessed data in a cache. When you visit a web page you’ve already viewed, the browser can get those files from the cache instead of having to go back to the original server. This saves you time and helps the network function faster and more efficiently. Having a caching plugin means the browser doesn’t have to retrieve new information each time a site is viewed.
WP Total Cache is often quite highly recommended for this. It’s known to increase page performance and reduce load times. Not only is it highly recommended by some of the top web hosts, including SiteGround, it’s also FREE!
I strongly suggest you watch this helpful video below on how to properly install and set up the plugin. You can activate it but you need to enable the proper settings or it won’t do what you need it to. But once it’s set up correctly, it really will do everything it promises.
Related: Free Resources for Beginner Bloggers
5. Tidy Up!
Lastly, get your Marie Kondo hat on and think minimalist! The more STUFF your blog has going on, the more your site speed decreases. So sometimes, less really is more.
Start by evaluating your sidebar. It’s like free advertising space, so it’s very tempting to fill it up and use every widget under the sun. Ask yourself if you can get rid of any sidebar “fluff”.
Keep the obvious stuff. You definitely want social links, opt-ins, a place for readers to subscribe, etc. But say you’ve got an ad for something you’ve never seen any return from, get rid of it.
Even something as simple as Emojis can decrease your site’s load time. Go through your site and delete any emojis you may have used. Failing that, you can also download the Disable Emojis Plugin. It disables the new WordPress emoji functionality. Emojis and Emoticons will still work, but the plugin removes the extra code WordPress uses to make them function with old browsers.
To Wrap This Up…
You’re probably thinking, “Ok, I can do all of those things! But how do I know if my site is actually slow??”
Check your site’s speed here – Google’s PageSpeed Insights
Simply enter the URL for your site, click Analyze and wait for your speed score. Your score will fall into the Fast, Average, or Slow category.
*Note* – You can check your score for both mobile and desktop view. Change from one to the other on the left-hand side, above your score. Keep scrolling and you’ll be given suggestions on how to improve your score/speed.
Now that you have your score, implement the 5 suggestions made in this post, and check your score again. You may want to try one thing at a time to see if your score went up or down with each change.
If you take these steps and your site is still slow, contact your web host. A good host will want to help you improve your site speed and user experience.
If you still aren’t happy with your speed, hire a professional. Everyone’s site is unique. There’s a lot to consider including platform, hosting, theme, etc. A pro can pinpoint where the problem lies and help you drastically improve your site’s performance.
Take your site speed seriously. We live in a fast-paced world where our attention spans are almost non-existent. If your site is slow to load, you’ll likely lose your reader’s focus/attention and they’ll close out of your site and go back to scrolling aimlessly.
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For more handy dandy website tips, check out my Pinterest Board below:
Blogging Resources I love and recommend:
SiteGround – I use SiteGround as my web hosting platform and I love it. They are trusted by the owners of over 1,900,000 domains! It’s secure, fast, reliable, and the customer service is AMAZING! I’ve contacted them for help for a few reasons and received outstanding support. Learn more about SiteGround HERE.
Tailwind – Is the Pin Scheduler of choice amongst most bloggers. Tailwind allows me to schedule my pins on the days I can’t be near my computer. It’s like a blog/Pinterest assistant. If you haven’t already, sign up for a FREE month of Tailwind HERE.
ShareASale – If you are interested in monetizing your blog through affiliate marketing, ShareASale has got to be one of the easiest ways to do it! They’ve got merchants for every niche looking for affiliates to promote their products. Learn more about ShareASale HERE.
Grammarly – I saw a huge improvement in my writing after installing Grammarly. It’s the World’s leading checker of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and plagiarism. The better your writing, the more credible you will seem to you readers. Did I mention they have a FREE version? Check it out HERE.