How to speed up your WordPress Blog

Page speed affects everything from user experience to Google Ranking and could even be the deciding factor on being accepted for Google Adsense.  Find out how to check and increase your blog’s speed to gain more traffic and increase revenue.

Monitor your blog’s Speed.

First of all,  establish a point of reference, or your blog’s current speed, so that you’ll know what affect your changes have made. Log out of WordPress. If you’re logged in, the Admin tools will always slow your site down, giving you an inaccurate speed calculation.

In Google Chrome, access the Developer Tools by pressing F12  or selecting Settings > More tools > Developer Console.

From here, select the Network tab and refresh the page.

Right at the bottom of the page, the results of the page load should be displayed:

  • DOMContentLoaded: How long it took for the visual elements of the page to be loaded.
  • Load: How long it took for the entire page to load, including all external calls and scripts. (e.g. A BandCamp player).

To find out what assets are taking the longest to load, click on the Time heading in the Developer Tools and sort by descending.

You can test the speed of your site at https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights but WARNING!! be VERY careful of uploading suggested assets (images etc) to your site. As I found out to my cost, Google will suggest smaller and smaller images, eventually making them unusable.

Install Plugins

After checking out a number of similar plugins, I ended up installing these two:

Autoptimize: Caches your blog, as well as Minifying CSS and Javascript (Just tick those options). I wouldn’t advise using the option to ignore Google Fonts as those were used on my theme (ColorMag). This plugin will result in an increase in speed after you load the page for the first time.

Compress JPEG & PNG images:  Includes a Bulk Optimisation feature to compress all the images in your library, which provides clear benefits in speed. This involves setting up a TinyPNG account. (see Check your Media Settings below).

Change your Theme

I’d previously used Dyad, which is a more photography, image focused (and heavy) theme not suited to my Blog. The switch to ColorMag presented another problem in that my previously uploaded (and compressed) images weren’t optimised for this new theme with it’s custom header slider etc (see below).

Check your Media Settings

Go to Settings > Media and tick all the boxes that relate to your new Theme (in my case ColorMag).

This section deals with images you are about to upload, but what if you’ve already uploaded them? The issue is resolved by installing the Enable Media Replace Plugin.  After installation go to your Media Library and you should have a Replace Media option for each image. Select it and the second check box (to preserve blog links etc) and this will now create all the optimised image versions you need for your new theme.

Check your hosting account’s disk space and remove unused Themes.

Log onto the CPanel of your hosting account and run a diagnostic on the available disk space. You may find some unused plugins etc that can be safely deleted, but err on the side of caution. Some easy wins here are clearing out any unused themes which can’t be removed from the WordPress admin.

E.g. Bluehost’s CPanel has a File Manager app.  From there, browse to public_html/wp-content/themes and delete any theme folders that you don’t use.

Review your Blog’s layout and content.

Now clear you cache (both browser and Autoptimize) and monitor your blog’s speed again…..

Still aren’t happy with the results?  Now you’ll need to look into the content of your Blog itself.

Anything visual, that uses JavaScript (animations, sliders etc) or that is served from another site (e.g. SoundCloud and BandCamp players) will slow your site down. Optimising/Compressing the images will help, but now comes the time to make some decisions on what features you really need on your Blog,

For me, the BandCamp and SoundCloud players where by far the slowest to load, so after much deliberation, I chose to keep the BandCamp player and ditch the SoundCloud one because frankly SoundCloud doesn’t generate income. Having only the BandCamp player means I have a Call to Action and a song player combined. As one of the main subjects of the Blog is promoting my original music, I felt it had to be there both as a revenue stream and a crucial piece of content.  I mitigated the loss of the SoundCloud player by including a simple icon in it’s place plus a new post promoting my page.

Google Adsense Ads are also a drain, so after experimenting with Custom Search Engines(CSE) and Link Units I decided on maximum 3 Google Asense Ads, no CSE (the theme search was much slicker), and no Link Units (too spammy looking, slow and ugly on mobile). Decreasing the Adsense ads would help further.

I hope you’ve found this post useful for your own Blog, It’s all a learning process and I’m still tinkering with the layout as we speak.

Good Luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on Reddit

5 Responses

  1. bluekite21 says:

    Thank you for the useful tips 🙂

  2. Alex Sarll says:

    Hey, thanks a lot for checking out and following my blog! And I’m glad I found this post, as I really want to develop my own blog, but am not really sure how to go about it. Can you do all of this with a free blog, or do you need to pay to be able to make these changes? I’m pretty clueless when it comes to building websites, so am a bit swamped atm :/

    • Adam Harkus says:

      Hi Alex, thanks for reading. Unfortunately you can upload custom plugins on the free wordpress.com sites, I’m just referring to a paid hosting service using WordPress.org.

    • Adam Harkus says:

      Oh and by the way if you have any questions just ask!

%d bloggers like this: