Your blog’s PageSpeed matters.
In fact, it matters a lot. A second’s delay in your blog’s loading time can cause your visitor to hit the “back” button. If there is one factor which has always remain crucial in deciding your rankings in the search results by search engines, it is your blog’s or website’s loading time.
Here is an excerpt from Google’s July 2018 PageSpeed’s update :
People want to be able to find answers to their questions as fast as possible — studies show that people really care about the speed of a page. Although speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches. Today we’re announcing that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.
Earlier the focus used to be on desktop loading time of a blog only. But ever since the world has shifted more towards the use of smartphones over desktops or laptops, Google has also decided to take in account the page speed of the mobile version of your blog or website.
I am not wrong in saying that almost 95% of a blog’s organic traffic is provided by Google. So it is impractical to have a slow loading blog as it will not bear you any fruit – SEO-wise and user-experience-wise too.
So I decided to have my blog’s speed checked using various tools available for free on the internet and I was literally shocked. I have summarized the whole experience below and what exactly I did to improve my Google PageSpeed score from 54 to nearly a complete 100.
3 Tools Which I Use For Analyzing My Blog’s Loading Time
First of all, you need to know the right tools.
There are tonnes of tools and websites on the internet which can analyze your blog’s loading time. But when it comes to factor this important, you should put your faith in the best ones only.
Here is the list of 3 tools which are being used even by the pro bloggers and gurus. The data provided by these tools is unparalleled in terms of accuracy. The page speed score provided by these tools is generally used as a standard to measure a blog’s loading speed.
- PageSpeed Insights by Google Developers : A very own tool provided by Google Developers. PageSpeed Insights can you a complete examination into a page’s elements like HTML, CSS, JS and what not. It can suggest you the improvisations you can make into those elements to make your page load faster.
- Pingdom Tools : Pingdom Tools is another great website to check the load speed of any website. Not only this, Pingdom Tools provides you with the facility to analyze other performance features like DNS lookup, server response time etc. You also get the option of multiple servers located all around the world. You can choose any server and check how your website is performing in that continent. This tool can also monitor your website’s performance at all times.
- GTmetrix : GTmetrix gives you a comprehensive report of a site’s speed. This tool offers scores from these three different tools at one place: PageSpeed, YSlow and Waterfall. All three of them can offer different insights into your site’s structure and elements. You also get actionable data reports for each element which is resulting in slow load speed of your blog.
You can choose to opt for as any many tools as available, but in my opinion, you need not invest your time on any other place after you have optimized your blog according to the recommendations of these three websites. ‘
First Test For Load Speed Using PageSpeed by Google Developers
Here are the specs of my WordPress blog when I made my first PageSpeed test:
- URL : http://wordmy.com
- Plugins Count : 10
- Social Share Plugins : 2 – Jetpack and AddtoAny Share Plugin
- SEO Plugins : Yoast SEO
- Autoptimize for Cache and Page Speed
- Advanced Ads
- Genesis Simple Edits
- A couple of other plugins to help me publish better.
- Genesis Framework
Upon testing with above specs, I got a PageSpeed score of 54 for the desktop version and 52 for the mobile version.
Unfortunately, I will be unable to share the screenshot as I have already made the changes,
Needless to say, I was shocked to see such low scores. It was an alarming situation and my blog needed immediate measures to be taken.
Second Test Using Pingdom Tools
Second test was done using Pingdom Tools. The specs were the same as above and no changes were made.
The test yielded a very poor score of 73.
According to the hierarchy set by Pingdom tools, any score below comes in the “Performance Grade – C”. You cannot expect a blog with C-Grade performance and load time to rank on first page of Google.
Third Test Using GTmetrix
I am not a pro user of this service.
Final test made done using GTmetrix using the same above URL and specs. This test provided with following test scores:
- PageSpeed Insights Score : 54
- YSlow Score : 67
After testing my blog on all the three platforms, I made a list of all the problems and issues I was able to identify. I would like to mention that I am not a very code-savvy or tech-savvy person. But I do understand the numbers and it was time to reduce the number of issues.
Issues Causing Slow Page Load Speed – Problems Identified
Some issues were common on all the three platforms. Some causes were different which varied from platform to platform. This is the benefit which I reaped that I had a comprehensive analysis of what was slowing my website down. Here is a compiled list of all those problems:
- Add Expires Header
- Make Fewer HTTP Requests
- Gzip Compression
- Eliminate Render Blocking Resources
- Reduce Server Response Times
- Use a Content Delivery Network
- Defer unused CSS
These were the errors and after doing some study with the help of Google, I was able to rectify or complete remove them.
Steps Taken to Improve PageSpeed Score and Site’s Speed
This is the central part where I took some measures to improve my blog’s scores on these platforms. Loading time was also decreases significantly which was also visible too.
- Plugins Uninstalled : I uninstalled the following plugins from my WordPress blog:
- AddtoAny Social Share Plugin
- Advanced Ads
- Plugins Installed : After uninstalling the above plugins, I installed the following plugins to compensate for them:
It might seem implausible at first, but making these small changes made all the difference in the world.
Testing With New Plugins – PageSpeed Improved and Site Loading Faster
After making the above changes, I decided to test my blog again.
PageSpeed Score for Desktop Version:
PageSpeed Score For Mobile Version :
Testing URL using Pingdom Tools:
And last but not the least, here are the results of GTmetrix:
You can clearly see the effect of replacing a few wrong plugins with the right ones. Blog’s PageSpeed score has improved to 95+ in almost all the three platforms.
That is a great sigh of relief for me.
At least I can be sure that my blog will not be penalized by Google in the search engine rankings for being slow.
Achieving this score was easy for me. Luckily I have been using Genesis Framework which is lightning fast and so far the best framework designed for any WordPress blog or website.
However, this might not be the case with every blog. Every blog is designed differently and has different structure and elements. Therefore, there can never be a perfect combination of plugins and themes which will work for every blog or website.
However, there are a few golden rules and tactics which you can apply to your website to decrease it’s load time significantly.
5 Must Take Steps to Reduce a Website’s Load Time and Increase its Page Speed in 2019
While trying to improve your site’s speed, just remember to follow these 5 simple rules and your website will be fast as a bolt.
- Shared Server : If you are on a shared server, you cannot afford to install more than 5-6 plugins. A shared server shares its resources among all the websites being hosted on it. You cannot always expect a high performance and faster load time from your blog due to lack of CPU, RAM and Bandwidth for your blog. In such cases, installing a high number of plugins can result in further slowing down of your blog.
- VPS Server : A VPS server is just like a shared server except the fact the resources are guaranteed for your website. You also get root server access and most of the VPS servers are managed which gives you more control in configuring your website. A VPS server can give you a Dedicated-Server like performance but only at lower costs. You can go and install a maximum of 8-10 plugins on a blog hosted on VPS Server. Any more than that, and you might risk your PageSpeed score turn yellow from green.
- Dedicated Server or Cloud Hosting : A Dedicated server stores a single website on a single physical server and all the resources allocated are used for running and maintaining one single website only. Dedicated servers are used by websites having high traffic volumes and large page sizes. Same goes for Cloud Hosting too. A dedicated server or cloud server can give the freedom to install more number of plugins but they will still use your server resources which can result in decreased performance. You should refrain from installing more than 12 plugins even on a dedicated server.
- Use Genesis Framework : I might sound extremely blunt here, but there cannot be a better framework designed for WordPress. Genesis uses the concept of a Framework+Pro Theme to create beautiful websites and blogs which are super fast, highly SEO-optimized, full of features and widgets with tonnes of customization options. With Genesis, you can put your entire focus on publishing great content since nothing can go wrong with your theme. Even Neil Patel recommends using Genesis for WordPress blogs.
- Use a Caching Plugin: I don’t know which one. You can choose among the best that there are. W3 Total Cache, WP Rocket or LiteSpeed Cache are some of the best performing plugins when it comes to cache. You can try each one of them and see which gives you the highest PageSpeed score. Not only caching, you need to make sure that your caching plugin does the following too:
- Minify and Combine HTML, JS and CSS : This will reduce the size of each file and also the number of files resulting in faster loading of your page.
- Defer Loading of JS Files : This prevents loading of JS files before the other elements of your page. This can significantly reduce a blog’s load time.
- Leverage Browser Caching : Implementing this will ensure that your page load time decreases significantly. Images, CSS and JS files will be already stored locally on the user’s browser resulting in faster page speed.
- Use GZip Compression : GZip compression can reduce the size of images and other media on your blog by a huge 60-70%. The great thing about gzip compression is that it does not reduces the quality of the images being compressed. You can also add the following code your .htaccess file. However, if you are not aware with the functioning of .htaccess or how to edit it, you better let your plugin do the job.
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
# Or, compress certain file types by extension:
5. Implement CDN : If you have a blog which rely heavily on images, then you should probably use CDN to serve those images. However, you should be able to do it from your caching plugin only so that you do not have to install a separate plugin for this.
- Choose Your Host Wisely : Choosing a good host is just as important as having good quality content. This blog is being hosted at HostGator. It is always advised to not to go for a cheaper host only because it was costing you lesser than a better host. If you invest a little more on a good hosting server which fulfills all your needs, you will not have to pay again and again for add-ons or extra space or extra bandwidth just because you decided to go with a cheaper and low performing server in the first place.
- Keep Your Homepage Clean : Your homepage is where most of the link juice is. So you must keep your homepage neat, clean and tidy so that it loads fast and performs better in PageSpeed tests. You should avoid using large scaled images on your homepage. Also, excess and unnecessary code from the widgets should not be displayed on the front page.
Why a Blog’s Load Time is Important For SEO and Conversion?
Do you know that even a one second delay can result into loss of sales of 20%?
Do you know that a page which took more than 2 seconds to load was left by almost 40% of the visitors before it could even load?
These are not my stats. But you can Google them and you will find that I was being only generous while writing these numbers. In the world of high speed internet and 4G, nobody likes to see a buffering sign on their browser.
Page speed does not only affect the conversions or bounce rate of your blog, it will also affect how Google will place you in its search results.
Lately Google has been more and more vocal about how important user-experience is and a blog’s load time has a major part to play in it. You cannot see the difference it makes in your SEO results unless you really do it.
And one really important reason why your blog can load fast is that it can. Then why not make it.
So in this post I explained how I improved my Google PageSpeed score from just over 50 to an almost even 100.
We also learnt that making a few small changes can make a big difference in a blog’s load time. This will help you not only get more visitors, it will also help you in terms of better Google rankings and better conversions and profits.
I would love to know your tactics or the techniques you use on your blog to improve page speed. Any tips and opinions are most welcomed as always. I will be sharing more such experiences very soon. Till then make lots of money and keep smiling!