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Speeding Up WordPress For Better SEO – How To


wordpress-development-seoWordPress is a favorite when it comes to using one of the best and mostly widely used CMS platforms. As a leader in content management systems, WordPress has it’s own weaknesses. One of the most prominent weaknesses in almost every WP site is its speed. Chomp Digital is driven by WordPress but you’ll notice that our speed has not been compromised. Having a speedy website is important. Sluggish websites affect the user experience and SEO. For instance, if your site is currently loading slow for the user then most likely they’re leaving before any of your pages have finished loading. When a user leaves your website in very short amount of time, this affects the bounce rate. Bounce rate is a calculation on the amount of time a user spends on a given website and when they leave. Why is the bounce rate important? Search engines like Google, will see a website as either having poor content or that the website has been poorly developed. Having slow loading pages or a high bounce rate can hurt the SEO on WordPress website. Google takes the speed of a website in consideration and uses it the bounce rate as a ranking signal. If your site is slow, it can actually hurt your overall ranking in SERPs and detour return visits. If your website is currently slow or taking way too long load, I’m going to go over a few helpful tips on how you can make your website load faster. Keep in mind that some of these tips and tricks listed below may not be applicable to some sites or that the following tips may already be implemented on your current install.

Wordpress SEO Tips

Tips For Speeding Up WordPress

This first tip is the simplest that does not require any coding knowledge or plugins.

Speed Tip #1 – Cleaning Up Your Code To Speed Things Up

Cleaning code is one of the first steps that we take when dealing with a WordPress website that’s slow. Before attempting to install any plugins to speed up your site you should try cleaning up WordPress theme coding using either DW, Notepad or Notepad++. We prefer using Notepad++, it has proven to be the quickest solution for our in-house process. To clean up code you’ll first want to go through and delete as many blank lines and indentations as you can throughout your code. The first file to clean is your style.css, which is your themes main cascading style sheet. If you’re using Notepad++, you can use the delete blank surplus lines option located under the text edit options tab. This option will allow you to delete all blank lines, which will tighten up your code. After the style.css has been cleaned and compressed to the max, move on to any other .css files that live in your theme and do the same process. You will also want to use this same procedure on your main theme files as well that end in .php.

Your style.css before:
.main-navigation li {
margin: 0 25px 0 0;
margin-top: 4px }
.main-navigation div.nav-menu ul{ padding-left: 10px; padding-top: 0px }

.main-navigation div.nav-menu ul{ border: none !important }

Your style.css after clean up:
.main-navigation li { margin: 0 25px 0 0; margin-top: 4px }
.main-navigation div.nav-menu > ul{ padding-left: 10px; padding-top: 0px }
.main-navigation div.nav-menu > ul{ border: none !important }

Closing statement:

Taking the time to clean up your code will make a difference, but sometimes cleaning up css isn’t enough and your website requires more attention. More attention doesn’t mean more plugins, so hold your horses till the end of this post.

Speed Tip #2 – Images, File Size & Image Hosting (CDN)

image-optimizingImages play an important role is site speed and the time it takes to load a page. Most website owners are unaware of the direct affect that large image files have on a website and will usually resort to a WordPress plugin because they have no idea what’s causing their website to be slow. Images should not be overlooked for this reason alone and as a content creator you should have a solid understanding of how to insert images properly into your pages or posts. There are few simple things that work really well to speed up your pages load times. The first thing that you can do is optimize the original image first before uploading it to your server and adding it to your page. Most users have a tendency to upload their images using the WordPress image manager and then re-sizing their images from there, this doesn’t always work as planned. Although WordPress has the option to edit images on the back-end, you’re better off creating your images to size first before uploading them to your server. By creating your images to size first and making them to be the exact size they need to be will dramatically improve the time it takes to server up images on your page. When creating your images to size, you’ll also want to make sure that you’re optimizing the overall file size itself. Compress your images and reduce the file size as low as it will go before losing any resolution to get the best results. This is also a great way to speed up websites for mobile or responsive designs, especially now that mobile SEO is becoming more important.

wide-image-656

Now we all know that there are lots of plugins in the WordPress Community that will help with image compression and caching, but I recommend to avoid using them as much as possible. Adding unnecessary WP plugins can potentially void out all of your optimizing efforts. Some plugins will add a lot of redundant or unwanted code to your site which will cause your site to be sluggish once again. Before you think about adding a new plugin to speed up your website, hold you horses again because this post is only half over.

You can do a lot more than basic image optimization techniques, you can use a content delivery network (CDN). Using a CDN is a great way to speed thing up because it not only reduces your server use it stores and serves up your images from in the cloud. Installing a CDN can be a little difficult for non-advanced WordPress users, but there’s a few solutions out there are pretty easy. One solution for serving up images in the cloud is Amazon’s S3 CDN service. The cost is very minimal and the installation takes about 10 minutes from start to finish. Using a CDN on your WordPress install will require the use of a plugin, “BOOO”. Unfortunately the only way to maximize and use a CDN properly is to use it with a Cache plugin and CDN sync manager to help sync up your images with an external server like Amazon S3. Using either one of these plugins is actually recommended, it will significantly improve your page speed and image handling. If your website is currently in need of this type of service or setup we’ll be glad to assist, just send us a request for pricing.

Closing statement:

Take the time to optimize your images first, compress them and then upload them to your server. Don’t be lazy about your images and don’t install plugins just because you feel that is easier or more practical. Do things the right way the first time around, you’ll be glad that you did.

Speed Tip #3 – Reduce & Remove Unwanted Plugins

By reducing or removing unwanted plugins it can help improve the speed of your website as mentioned above in step two. There’s a lot of WordPress users in the community that tend to go crazy and install any and every plugin, not knowing the damage it may cause to their website. This can cause the users site to slow down, throw errors or even harm their sites security. Plugins are indeed handy and useful but you should always ask yourself before installing, is this plugin really needed? In most cases, users have the tendency to install a plugin and then later on find out that it’s not for them or that it doesn’t meet their expectations. The next thing to happen is that the user will simply deactivate the plugin and leave it installed, don’t do this. Just because you’ve deactivated a plugin doesn’t mean that’s it’s completely removed or has stopped functioning on your website. Plugins installed a lot things behind closed doors, like insertion of new tables, scripts in the head or body of your theme and more. These are items that will in fact harm your site if they’re not removed properly or if you do not take the time to clean up your database. You’d be surprised to how much code can be inserted from plugin that you feel may be lightweight. Overall you shouldn’t risk slowing down your website because you want cool features or add-ons on your site. The best thing you can do to keep your WordPress website running smooth is to reduce the amount of plugins and try to implement your functions and features as much as you can.

Closing statement:

Be cautious and be smart about your plugin installations. Don’t install everything, only install what you need. If you keep your plugin count down and standardize the important ones to use, your website will be in much better shape. Take it from us, we don’t mess around when it comes to using WordPress plugins and our site only uses seven plugins total.

Speed Tip #4 – Ask A Professional For Help

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Justin Y.

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6 thoughts on “Speeding Up WordPress For Better SEO – How To

  1. Mike

    Hi Justin – I do agree with the first point – it’s best to have quality, lean code, with all the CSS properly combined and constructed with minimum duplication. But I would have thought a decent minify plugin would also do pretty well too, i.e. at least stripping out all the unnecessary spaces, plus it should also have the advantage of combining CSS and JS files, and at a lot less effort, especially if third-party themes or plugins are used! Absolutely 100% agree with points 2-4 though, great advice! Mike

  2. chompdigital Post author

    I completely agree about using minify when you can. I usually recommend testing minify on commercial themes because I’ve noticed that they tend to break more often than most when minify is enabled.

    Thanks for the feedback Mike!

  3. Mike

    Funny you should say that – only this morning I found minification completely broke a website in IE8, but worked ok in IE9 and IE10! Just shows the importance of testing exactly like you say! Cheers :)

  4. chompdigital Post author

    I’m glad my info helped :) I’ve had minification do that too numerous of times and other times it tends to break jquery sliders as well. This is why I prefer to compress things myself because with minfiy it’s an all or nothing deal and with manual compression you can at least optimize what you can to help.
    Cheers!

  5. Correen

    Excellent points…taking with me as I build my (suspect image heavy) site. Thanks and happy to meet you via the WordPress community on G+.