Over the last three weeks I’ve been working on optimizing one of my tech blogs that was impacted in a negative way by the Google Panda update. After extensive research and listing down everything I had to do to ensure that the blog recovers from Panda update. I began work on making changes. The first item on my list was to address the site speed.
Even though this was not a major factor that impacted the site in relation to the Panda update, It was something that was impacting how long the customer stayed on the blog. This article covers all the important steps that I’ve taken as part of the recovery process and in-turn speeding up my website. There are a few things that you need to do before you begin working on your website speed.
These are the 5 things I did before I began work on my blog.
- Back up all my blog data using BackupBuddy WP Plugin, or something of your choice.
- Use Premium WP Theme Frameworks like StudioPress (aff link) that has well optimized coding.
- Set up a maintenance webpage up while your working on your blog.
- Depending on your site size you might want to notify your hosting provider (aff link).
- Now that you are ready to start making changes to your blog, lets get to the first thing that you will have to as part of speeding up your WordPress powered blog.
Before we get to the tips, check out this video by Matt Cutts answering the ever important question.
Is speed more important than relevance?
Increase Website Speed by Reducing Links Per Page
The first thing that would come to your mind the moment you read the subtitle is – why on earth would I need to reduce links on my site? How can that increase my site speed. Let me explain. There is a concept called Text To Code ratio, where your blog is expected to have more text than code. When I say code, it also refers to the HTML coding, which includes, ad banners and so on.
The purpose to run a test to identify how your site is fairing is to not just evaluate the text to code ratio, but to know the size of your website and how much impact is coding having on the site size.
I used a neat web tool available at SEO Chat. The screenshot of my website performance after the change is reflected. I was so focused working on How To Increase Website Speed I forgot to do the test before I started optimizing my blog.
Since you’re starting to optimize your blog, I think its a good thing to test before and after optimizing your blog. Once you get an idea of the size of your blog or website, its time to start finding ways to reduce links and unwanted codes or buttons or badges that add little to no value to your blog.
A few good places to start working on are –
- Remove non converting advertisement banners
- Remove poorly coded ad codes
- Remove badges and buttons
- Don’t place too many recent post or text link items on sidebars
- Once you have made these tweaks, you will surely see a considerable change is blog file size as well as a text to link ratio.
You’re now one step close to speeding up your blog.
Reduce the number of URL Redirection
As second part to speeding up your site, its time to focus on redirection on your blog, We all make mistakes when it comes to using the right type of permalink.
We read some poorly written blogs and make changes that drastically affect our blogs in the long run. While redirection is a way forward after permalink are corrected, its not not help with maintaining your blog load speed.
If you run a large blog, then the impact is higher the larger number of redirection. While I do have a few good redirects on my blog, I’ve ensured that I deleted and removed listing from Google for the ones that don’t really make a difference and the new and updated post has much better page rank.
If you are a techie, do a .htaccess redirect vs. using a plugin to redirect. This has a small amount of site speed impact to your blog. And when it comes to site speed, even a small difference counts.
While different people have a different take on this, I would leave this decision entirely to you. You can choose to keep or get rid of your redirects.
Minimize Plugins, Code Edits And Heavy Images
The next step I took to increase website speed is to reduce the number of WordPress plugins I used. Simple remove the plugins that do not add any value to your blogs performance.
Even if it is a back-end plugin that does nothing to make your blog better, its not required. Try and avoid editing the codes of your WordPress theme. This can slow down the performance of your site.
Premium themes are often well codes and optimized for maximum performance. If you make edits and changes with poorly written codes, and insert ad codes in your theme template, they are going to slow things down for your blog.
Using images that in format .png or .gif are much lighter and suited for the web. Using heavy images can also slow down your site considerably. Try to convert the images to more suitable format for better performance.
You are almost done with all the manual effort that is required to speed up your blog. Now lets get to the much simpler aspects of optimization where you need to set up a few WordPress plugins.
Optimize Database Tables
This is a very interesting aspect of optimization that I never really knew about. WordPress has a very poor functionality in this aspect. Every time you write a blog post, make edits and save a post WordPress creates copies of that post.
It then stores them in your database even though we all know we so rarely use them. In order to free up space on my WordPress database I simply downloaded and installed a plugin called wp-optimize.
You can find this plugin via the plugin directory right from your WordPress dashboard. Once you install this, you simply navigate to it on the left panel in your WordPress admin area and follow the steps.
The plugin clearly shows you how much space is being utilized and can be reduced. This process of removing unwanted entries from your database, you will increase the load time of your database.
Plugins have a huge impact on blog speed
The most important plugin that you need to install is the W3TotalCache plugin. This is considered to be one of the best optimization plugin when it comes to clearing out stored up cache and controlling site loads.
You can find this plugin right from your admin dashboard as well. If you are confused about the various options, simply follow the tutorial from WPBeginners like I did.
Once everything is complete, do not forget to clear cache using the plugin. Now its time to do a speed test at Google’s PageSpeedInsights. Here is a test that I did while writing this post.
Here is an interesting infographic from Kissmetrics highlighting the importance of loading time.
If you choose to implement the tips listed, I would like to know how it works out for you. Do share your experience in the comments section.