Website Speed: 10 Ways to Speed Up Your Site
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One sure way to tick of your visitors and have them clicking away before they even see your site is, well, to have a site they can’t see.
Or, at least, to have a site that they have to wait to see.
The minute a visitor clicks your link, no matter where they find it, you have approximately two to three seconds to grab their attention.
If they have to wait longer than that for you site to load then you’ve already lost their attention.
It’s also important to note that Google announced that Site Speed has a direct impact on the way your site is ranking.
Here are 10 ways to speed up your site so you can catch them as soon as they hit the page.
Don’t forget to check the load time of your site before and after following this advice. You’ll thank me later!
1. Resize your images
Most blogs have built-in coding to resize your images. In fact, with most WordPress blogs you can even resize the resized image. (Yes, I know. But it’s true!) Obviously, this makes it easy to upload any image to your site because you can just let the programming do the heavy work.
However, each time the internal code has to take over and resize your images it puts a drain on your CMS and slows down your load time. It might just be a second, but on an image heavy site, all those seconds add up.
Resize your images with GIMP (it’s free) before you upload them to your blog and shave time off your load time.
2. Image formats
For faster loading times, save photographs as JPEGs, save your drawings and flat color images as GIFs and save images with transparent parts as PNGs.
I would also advise you to install the WordPress plugin WP Smush.it. It’s a “setup and forget” plugin developed by Yahoo that will optimize the file size of your images when you upload them to WordPress.
3. Improve your PHP/HTML/CSS Code
Take a look at the coding on your blog. If it’s been awhile since you changed your design you may have a lot of ugly html code floating around in there.
Proper use of CSS allows you to have a clean design, and much more versatile for your design applications. And because it’s clean and streamlined your site will load faster.
If you can’t clean up your coding yourself then consult a designer or hire me to optimize your site.
4. Change your Gravatars settings
Even those little Gravatar images can pull down your load time because they’re loaded from external sites. Don’t delete them altogether because you’ll mess up existing comments. Instead, go into your settings and choose “Blank”.
The other solution is to use a caching plugin for your gravatars. FV Gravatar Cache allows you to store Gravatars on your own server and reduces the calls to thirt-party domains.
5. Are you using reliable hosting?
Unless you have a few hundred blogs, web hosting isn’t that expensive and the prices only vary a few cents. If you have to pinch pennies do it somewhere else, but not with your hosting.
Choose a reliable host like HostGator or Bluehost, which has powerful servers for shared hosting. These are powerful enough to make sure that all websites hosted on the same server operate with good load times.
6. Use a quality theme
A lot of those free WordPress themes you see floating around the Web are junk. The code is outdated or worse yet – the code didn’t work to begin with.
Choose a quality theme from Studio Press so you know it has clean code for faster loading times.
7. Optimize your database
Databases can get cluttered and disorganized which slows down your load times.
If you’re using WordPress install a database optimizer like WP-Optimize to tidy the place up.
8. Use Hotlink and Leech protection
If your web hosting company offers Hotlink and Leech protection on your control panel, enable both features. This prevents other sites from linking directly to your files or images and stealing your bandwidth.
Alternatively, you can use a WordPress plugin such as Hotlink Protection.
9. Manage your plugins
Deactivate and Delete plugins you’re not using.
If you have old plugins on your blog, make sure they’re updated or look for more up-to-date plugins.
Depending on what you’re using, you might be able to find a new plugin that can take the place of 3 or 4 of those old ones.
10. Use a Cache plugin
Ok, you’ve probably been reading this a thousand times, but it’s one of the most important steps to speed up your website.
I’m using both for different projects and they work as expected.
If you’re less technical, you should use WP Super Cache. The setup process is a lot easier. However, the options are a little less advanced than W3 Total Cache.
BONUS. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
If you’re delivering lots of images and files consider hosting your content in a cloud with a Content Delivery Network.
This enables visitors to download your content from a server closer to their location.
Instead of traveling half-way around the world to pick up your content, it’s delivered from a server in their own backyard.
I’ve been using Maxcdn to deliver all my online projects for years now. I’ve never been disappointed with their service.