Speed is incredibly important in the effort to gain more attention for your site or blog. It is well known that the slower the load time of your blog the more people lose interest and look elsewhere. Every second counts in the effort to get people onto your blog in the first place, so it is important that you prioritise getting this right. Below are a few things that you can try to improve your page loading times. You can test the outcome of these changes by using the excellent (and free) tools.pingdom.com speed test which will give you a score in seconds.
1. Trim plugins
Having lots of plugins on your site may add functionality but they also add to page load times. It is also not uncommon for plugin writers to not pay that much attention to how light and efficient they are. First off then, you need to trim away any plugins that you have activated but aren’t adding value to your blog. Then you should go through the ones you have left and test what effect they have on page load time – test times with and without them on. If you notice a big performance boost by losing one of these then you can:
- Look around for an alternative plugin
- Disable it and live with not having it
- Put up with the speed loss because it is essential to how your blog works
2. Update plugins and themes
Make sure that any plugins and themes that you do have active are kept up to date. Bug fixes and other tweaks to these can help the speed of your blog and worth the two minutes it takes to keep on top of this process.
3. Use compressed images
Images can make up a large proportion of your blogs bandwidth and have an impact on page loading times. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everyone is on super duper fast connection like you are and that they want to see all the high resolution images you have to offer. This may be true if you are a photographer and you are expected to be uploading the best quality shots but for everyone else using jpegs which are compressed a little should not harm the look of your blog but can add a much needed boost.
Experiment with compression settings to get the best trade between look and speed. I’ve found that a compression setting of 85% works for me.
4. Setup a Cache
One plugin that you will become to depend on is one which cache’s your content and presents flattened views of your blog. These work by rendering the dynamic content to into static content which does not talk to your sites database every time a page loads. By doing this your blog gets a performance boost. W3 Total Cache is one of the best free plugins out there as it provides lots of functionality and really effective caching. It can be a bit of a head scratcher to start off with and if you get stuck then try something like Quick Cache as it provides a similar boost with fewer configuration options.
5. Content Delivery Network (CDN)
If you find that your traffic is coming from all over the world and your blog is hosted in the same country as you then setting up a Content Delivery Network (CDN) can have a dramatic increase for your visitors abroad. Your CDN will host many of your static files on a server that is geographically closer to your readers which in turn speeds things up. You will have to pay for traffic you utilise but this is can be very cost effective. Have a look at this article if you wish to know more about CDN’s.
6. Upgrade your hosting
If you are still not getting the performance you need from your blog then a upgrade may be required. Moving to a virtual private server (VPS) or dedicated servers will mean that you are not competing with other sites for computing power but you will pay for the benefit. Expect to pay at least £10 per month for a basic package, with costs escalating rapidly dependant upon what features you require.