Does your blog take more than a second or two to load? If so, don’t be surprised if you lose visitors because of this! According to Kissmetrics 40% of visitors will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Pretty disappointing if you want people to make that new lasagna recipe you’ve spent so much time developing.
So, what can you do if your blog feels like it’s loading like a slow-moving turtle? We have a couple of easy ways you can speed up your site!
First things first, do you know what your website speed is? If not, GTmetrix and Pingdom are both great resources for checking your site’s speed. Once you know what it is, follow these tips for improving your score and then test it again after you make the changes. We think you’ll be surprised by the improvement!
Example of GTmetrix score
Example of Pingdom score
1. Choose a good host
When you first start blogging, using a shared host is a nice affordable option. But, this inexpensive hosting also comes with another cost: slow site speed and frequent downtime. This may be fine when you’re a new blogger, but it’s not something you’ll want to stick with for the long haul.
Instead, we recommend using managed WordPress hosting. While it is more expensive, managed WordPress hosting is a service where all aspects of running a WordPress site are managed by the host. This means things like security, speed, and website uptime are taken care of for you, which results in faster more efficient loading times on your end! Some managed WordPress hosting sites we recommend include WP Engine, Flywheel, or DreamHost.
2. Optimize images
There’s nothing that will slow down your site speed more than uploading large images (we see you 2 MB photo of blueberry pancakes.) We recommend keeping the image size around 100 KB for optimal loading times.
Images can be optimized before you upload them to WordPress, but if you want to cut out the extra step of pre-optimizing them you can use a plugin like ShortPixel, Imagify or WP Smush.
3. Use a CDN
A CDN, like Cloudflare, will take all of the files on your site and deliver them to your visitors from the server that is closest to them. This cuts down the time it takes for your site to load. It may sound like a complicated process, but we’ve broken it down for you to help you understand what a CDN is and why you should be using one on your blog.
4. Be selective with plugins
You may have heard the myth “installing plugins will slow your site down.” This is only partly true. Here’s something to remember: plugins that change the front end of your site, will slow it down. However, plugins that only affect the admin dashboard will not.
Adding a new search bar to your recipe page? It will affect your site speed because you are adding additional code to the front end of your site.
But installing a plugin to organize your media library? It won’t make a difference! The reason for the latter is that this plugin isn’t loading images or code, whereas a plugin on your homepage that pulls up social sharing buttons is.
So, now what? It’s time to run a plugin audit!
Spend a few minutes deactivating unused plugins and consolidating your plugins. If you haven’t used an active plugin in months (or years…), deactivate it or even uninstall it! Do you have two plugins installed that both compress images? Deactivate one of them! Reviewing your plugins every so often is an easy way to optimize your site speed.
5. Turn off Pingback and Trackbacks
By default, every time another website mentions your blog, you are notified by something called pingbacks and trackbacks. This may sound great in theory, but they are also widely used by spammers, which can use up a lot of your server’s resources.
Turning this WordPress setting off will not ruin any of your backlinks, but it will cut out the extra work it takes for your server to process these.
6. Download a caching plugin
A caching plugin creates static HTML pages of your websites and saves them on your server. What this means is that each time someone visits your site, the plugin will show them these saved pages instead of trying to load all of the heavy WordPress data. In turn, this will have a large improvement on your site speed!
A few of the caching plugins we recommend include: WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache. There are some great resources out there that can help you optimize these plugins for your blog, be sure to look around on Google if you aren’t sure of what settings to change.
Also, be sure to check with your host to see if they have a built-in caching option or don't support using a separate caching plugin.
Of course, there are many more things you can adjust on your blog to help it load faster. But, start with these six simple adjustments and you’ll likely see a nice improvement in your site’s speed!