Posts Tagged ‘ Page Load Speed

The First Three WordPress Plugins You Should Install

WordPress Admin Panel

I’ve recently started yet another WordPress blog (just like the default tagline says), bringing my total count up to four active blogs that I control. Now that I’m starting to get the hang of this, here are the first plugins I recommend installing right away on your new WordPress blog to kick things off on the right foot:

  1. Akismet – this blocks comment spam. If you don’t have this plugin, or one like it, you probably spend all day moderating your comments, or your blog is so new even spammers haven’t found it yet – but trust me, they will. Install Akismet and 99.9% of your spam problems will go away.
  2. WP Security Scan – after getting hacked last year, I realized WordPress has some pretty significant security flaws – since its open source, anyone can read the back end code and figure out how it all works – and everyone shares the same basic platform, which means that once you learn to hack one WordPress blog, chances are you can hack just about any of them. WP Security Scan both scans and fixes your WordPress blog for most common vulnerabilities, which will make it much harder for hackers to gain unauthorized access to your blog compared to the average WordPress install. This plugin takes seconds to install, but will save you hours of headache if a hacker every targeted you.
  3. WP Minify – a fast loading blog is a healthy blog. WP Minify compresses Javascript and CSS files to improve page load time. It’s well known within the SEO community that Google uses page load speed as part of their ranking algorithm, so every second you can shave off that loading speed can only help.

Of course, this list would be incomplete without mentioning two other things you should do as soon as you start a new blog:

  1. Sign up and verify your site in Google Webmaster Tools – this will alert you of any issues Google has crawling your site, as well as a wealth of other data like inbound links, relevant keywords, and much more. It will also get your site crawled by Google sooner rather than later, so you’ll start showing up in the search results.
  2. Sign up and implement Google Analytics, either using a plugin like Google Analytics for WordPress or manually inserting your tracking code into the footer. This will help you monitor site performance over time, and find referring networks that you can interact & engage with to grow a loyal base of readers to your blog. And since Google Analytics is completely free, there is no sense not collecting this data, even if you don’t plan on using it right away – in a few months, you’ll probably be interested and wish you had been tracking your site since the beginning.

I hope this was helpful – let me know if I left off any good suggestions in the comments section below!

Easy Tips to Speed Up Your WordPress Blog

Speed Up WordPress with Common SenseConcerned with Google’s indication that Page Load Speed May Become A  Ranking Factor, I began to look at my own WordPress blogs to see if I can speed up my page load time. In particular, my Modified Car Blog loaded very slowly, to the point where it was actually annoying to users as well.

I read some great posts on technical tricks and hacks to speed up your WordPress blog. Two in particular I found useful were WolfHowl’s post How to Speed Up WordPress and WPGarage’s 38 ways to optimize and speed up your WordPress blog. Plugins recommended in these posts like WP-Minify really seemed to help speed things, but Nick’s Car Blog was still painfully slow.

A test using this website speed test tool of my home page, http://nickscarblog.com, baselined at around 10 seconds to load. After implementing many of the technical tricks in the posts referenced above, it was closer to 5-6 seconds – better, but still pretty bad. I ran a few comparable sites to my blog and they were all around 3 seconds or less.

Then it was time to go back to the basics. Here are some “common sense” things you can do that require no technical tricks, plug-ins or code. These are simple things to make everything load quicker.

  • Use the More Tag for posts that have lots of images. I had several posts that were loaded with over a dozen pictures, often technical articles with DIY Guides to install car parts. By only providing one image and a snippet of the content, there isn’t so much to load on the homepage. I think this was the most effective way I reduced my homepage’s load speed. I also think it really cleaned up the appearance and organized the content better as well.
  • Compress Images – I had several images that would load in the header and throughout the blog that were pretty large – by just a slight adjustment in resolution I could cut the file size in half without the end-user ever really noticing.
  • Remove plug-ins you’re not using anymore, or don’t find very useful – if a user probably would never use it or find it beneficial – toss it. Sometimes a little plug-in “Spring Cleaning” is in order.
  • Contact your hosting company – maybe there is something on their end they can speed up. Or maybe you just have a really crappy hosting company.
  • Remove some of those Digg/Spinn/Reddit buttons. Is anyone seriously going to Digg your About Me page? I don’t think so.
  • Consider your WordPress theme. A simplier theme will load quicker. A really fancy, widget- and animation-heavy theme will load slower. You don’t have to kill your fancy-pants theme off, just try a new one and see if it affects loading speed with a website speed test. Who knows, you might find something you like better.

The end result? My Car Blog now loads in 2.66 seconds. I didn’t lose any content or images, and by using the “More” tag I expect to see a decrease in bounce rate as there is more of an incentive to view the Post Page as opposed to just reading the whole post on the homepage. Some images are more compressed, there are fewer social sharing buttons (but the ones that appear are likely to be more useful), and the blog appears less cluttered, better organized, and oh yeah – a heck of a lot quicker too. Let me know if I missed any more “common sense” ideas in the comments below!

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