A few steps to Google approved page speed

Website speed test for Google

As a website owner, speed is everything to me. I look for ways to improve the performance of my website even when it’s performing well. It’s this constant pursuit for perfection that drives me to come back to Netshock on a daily basis to write articles and to learn more about technology, marketing, business and also to learn things about myself.

It seems that Google has started to recognise the passion that a dedicated website owner has and has started to use website speed as a ranking factor (it’s probably something to do with user experience too, but I like to think it proves how dedicated and interested the webmaster is in their project).

So then, even those individuals that aren’t as consumed by website performance are forced to make their websites faster, but how?

This post is going to walk through how to speed up your WordPress website. Before we begin, I would recommend taking a backup of your site as we will be using plenty of WordPress plugins throughout this article. Sometimes a plugin can cause issues on your website. This is because a plugin cannot be tested with every version of WordPress with every available WordPress theme. We just have to carry out a little bit of trial and error to understand which will work with our version of WordPress and the theme that we have chosen.

Without further delay, let’s get started.

The first thing which we should look at is the concept of caching. If you haven’t heard of caching before, let me explain how it works. When a user reaches your WordPress website, a MySQL query is made to the database to fetch the list of articles which should be displayed. If a user then clicks through to read an article, we must request more data from the database to display article text, title and images. Each request puts load on the database and when you have several concurrent requests, this can cause performance issues.

By caching, we are simply saving the results of those MySQL queries into quick access memory (which can be the hard disk or RAM). We then present these files to the users, rather than querying the database over and over again. This saves a lot of overhead and system resources and speeds up the page load time for the user.

So then, you’ll probably agree, caching is good – you can install it on your blog by looking for a plugin called WP Super Cache. Once activated, navigate to the settings panel of your new caching plugin. Within this screen, you’ll see that a lot of the options have (recommended) next to them. Make sure you check all the boxes with this note next to them and save your settings.

The next thing that slows down most websites is images – they’re large files and take a long time to load. This isn’t the end of the world though, we can compress the images to make the loading process faster.

This does not affect the quality of the image, so is worth doing. To do this, install a plugin called WP Smush It. This plugin works by removing all the junk from images to help compress the file. This can result in a huge difference in image size and could improve your page load times significantly.

There are plenty more techniques you can use to improve your website speed, but there is a fine line between loading your website up with too many plugins – which hurts the performance and not having enough plugins to improve the performance. It can be a catch 101 situation.

Each website is different so it is best to experiment. The above guide should enable you to make all of the core, major, changes that will be required on almost all websites.

Image used under creative commons

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