Did you read my post “Optimize Your Images for a Faster Website?” If so, one gold star for you! If not, don’t worry…you’re not in my bad books. It’s just that if you want a website that moves more like a race car than a tricycle, website images are a good place to start. Or not. You’re the boss lady (or gentleman) so I’ll leave it up to you.
Okay…down to business! Here are more tips to help to satisfy your website visitors’ need for speed. (Remember: ignore the speed of your site and risk loosing your hard-earned traffic!)
To start off, let’s go back to Google’s nifty little PageSpeed Insights tool. Here you’ll want to enter the unique URL of each page on your site that you’ll be testing. It’s good to check scores before you make changes to your website, just so you can see that any changes you make actually produce results.
Now, as I mentioned in my last post, you do NOT need a 100/100 score. A score THAT perfect might result in a nervous breakdown – especially if you’re not technically inclined. What you’re looking for is to get a really good (in the green) grade for the website summary, and not stress too much if the mobile side is just “good”.
Also, the feedback to pay most attention to is anything titled “should fix” – shown with a red exclamation point.
Another site I use, which usually gives me better grades than Google’s tool, is Gtmetrix.com. This site will give you Page Speed and YSlow grades, along with the actual load time for each page in seconds. If you click on each item in the “Breakdown” section, it will let you know what – if anything – is an issue.
Again, do not feel you have to fix each item! For example, there are plenty of things I can “tinker” with and improve on my own site but my speed scores are really good, so I’m going to spend my time and energy on the million other things I need to do.
Okay, now assuming your scores reveal issues you should fix. Here are some really useful plugins to get you started. (Remember to BACK UP YOUR SITE, before you start installing plugins and making changes. Also, upon installation of each plugin, I like to check my score to see if it had an effect. You don’t have to be this obsessive!)
- W3 Total Cache (the one I use) or WP Super Cache (also popular). These plugins improve overall site speed and performance.
- WP-Optimize – helps keep your database clean by removing the old post revisions, spam, unapproved comments etc.
- Revision Control – allows you finer control over revisions. Instead of having dozens of my revisions sit on my database for weeks, I can limit them to any number I want through this plugin.
There are many, many more plugins that can help your site run more efficiently. The ones I’ve mentioned above have helped improve my scores DRAMATICALLY. Like from the 60s on Google and Cs and Ds on Gtmetrix, to the high 80s and 90s and As and Bs. I shouldn’t forget to also credit the fact that I used Pagespeed Optimizer through the cPanel of my hosting account.
I wish I could find the article that showed me how to configure Pagespeed Optimizer! Fortunately, it’s pretty straight forward…enable all the options except for the ones under the sections “Additional Filters” and “Risky Filters”. This should make a big improvement to your site’s speed, also.
Another significant way to speed your site up is through a Content Delivery Network (CDN), like CloudFlare. CDNs use geographic locations of the user, webpage origin and server to make your site more efficient at delivering content.
Lastly, your hosting service as well as your hosting package can make a big impact on speed. I use A Small Orange, which I’ve been very happy with but I know that WP Engine is a LOT faster, especially since they integrate a CDN for you.
Here is a great article that will help you dig deeper into speeding up your WordPress site. If nothing else, it will show you how to configure W3 Total Cache to its full potential.
Now that my site is fast enough, I think I’ll air my head and go make something pretty. I’ve had more than enough of all this ‘techy’ stuff for now!
P.S. Got any tips of your own? Tell us in the comments below!