“Why all this emphasis on speed?” you may be wondering.
The answer is simple: readers and search engines demand it. Google spokesperson Maile Ohye stated in a video in 2010:
“Two seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under half a second.”
The web — and readers’ expectations — have only gotten faster since then. With each additional second it takes your page to load, readers will bounce away.
Choose Your Blog Host Carefully
The difference in site speed from one hosting company — and sometimes from one server to another at the same host — can be large. Take the time you need to choose the best host you can afford.
Over time, as your site grows in both functionality and in content, it’s OK to upgrade to even faster hosting servers. In fact, the point where your blog is getting so much traffic and interest that you have to upgrade is a great problem to have!
For brand-new bloggers, I strongly recommend Bluehost where you can start with a relatively inexpensive Basic or Plus plan that’s just a few dollars a month, and then upgrade easily to faster plans whenever you need to.
Limit WordPress Plugins
We reviewed all of the wonderful things that plugins can do for you and your blog, from adding forms and signups to shopping and slideshows. But with each new plugin that you install, your site’s performance takes a hit.
Be very, very selective in the plugins that you choose to install and activate. Not only is it critical that any plugin you install be well-designed and fast, you should avoid using additional plugins for each and every function you dream of. Often you may find a single plugin that can replicate the functionality of several with a little creativity.
For instance, in my dashboard screenshots some of you have noticed a menu item for “Pods Admin.” Pods is the plugin I chose to install to create custom kinds of content. Rather than find one plugin for Testimonials and another for, say, FAQs, I found a single plugin that gives me the ability to create those content types as I see fit, and as many others as I might need.
Size Blog Images Properly
Improperly sized or optimized images create the single biggest hit on load times. Make sure the images on your site are sized and optimized properly, not only for quality of viewing, but for page load speeds.
Upload images that are only as large as the largest image size you have specified within your Theme, and then look for opportunities to use smaller versions within your content. Would the Medium size look just as good as the Large size? If so, go with that version.
Caching Software for Blogs
Page speeds can improve greatly when you use a caching system.
Normally when a WordPress web page is displayed in a browser, the page has been created at that moment. Building a page takes time.
When you load the page from a cache, though, it can be much faster. The caching software stores the pre-built page and serves that to the browser. (A “cache” is simply a temporary place to store data.)
Some hosts include caching with W3 Total Cache as part of the service. When configured correctly, this can be an excellent choice.
If your host doesn’t include caching, use the WP Super Cache plugin to speed up your site. Or, for an even faster, premium plugin, buy and install WP Rocket.
To test your site speed, use free tools like those at Pingdom or GTMetrix. They will show you where the biggest slowdowns are, and suggest improvements.
WordPress Basics for Bloggers Series
- What Is WordPress
- How To Get Started With WordPress
- How To Use The WordPress Dashboard
- How To Use WordPress Themes
- How To Use WordPress Plugins
- Understanding WordPress Site Security
- WordPress Blogs: It’s All About The Content
- How To Optimize WordPress For Speed (you are here)
- How To Prepare Your Blog To Build Traffic From Search
- How To Prepare Your Blog To Build Traffic From Social
Next Steps For New Bloggers
- Validate your blogging idea and create a plan using the Blogging Startup Planner.
- Follow the steps outlined in How To Start A Blog: The Ultimate Free Guide.
- Use the Ultimate Blogging Planner to plan your blog content and strategy for the coming year.
- Use the Blog Promotion Checklist to get maximum visibility to your blog posts each and every time.