If you use Google Adsense, you might have seen the Site Health indicator on your dashboard, and a little green or red icon next to it. If you click on the site health, you’ll end up at PageSpeed Insights, where you can have your blog posts analyzed for site speed. The first time I ran it, I got a pretty dismal score, but after some reading, some Googling, and some experimenting, I was able to boost my score quite a bit. Now I’m here to show you some easy ways you can increase site speed for your blog, without a
whole lot of coding. Some parts of this post gets a bit complicated, but there are some good habits you can put into practice that will help significantly. Let’s get started!
1. Update your code, including WordPress.
First things first. Make sure you have the latest versions of code, in case improvements were made and bugs were fixed. To avoid issues, I like to update from the bottom up, which means I update plugins, then child themes, then framework (Genesis), then WordPress, as necessary. By that I mean, sometimes there isn’t a child theme to update, and WordPress updates are fairly rare. But I always start at the bottom with the plugins, and work my way up, updating wherever there is something to update.
2. Optimize Images
I wrote a separate post on sizing images for your blog, but here’s the summary:
Your uploaded photos should only be as big as your content width. There’s no point in uploading a photo that is 3000px when your site will only display up to 600px, and that means you could have used a much smaller file. This helps save load time and storage space on your server.
Don’t save JPGs at maximum quality. Remember, high quality means low compression, which means your file size will be larger. You can play around with the compression quality and see what works for you. For reference, I save at 80% quality to reduce file size and still maintain a good looking photo. Well, good looking in terms of display, not photographic skill!
Another way of reducing image file sizes without losing quality is to run the image through a lossless compressor before uploading to WordPress. When I was on PC, I used OptiPNG. Now on a Mac, I find it much easier to run lossless compression with ImageOptim. I just keep it open in a corner, and drag and drop images into the window. I get anywhere from 10% to 50%+ file size reduction and it overwrites the file in place. Then I upload the newer, smaller version of the file to the media library. Both programs are free to download, but admittedly, the PC version is more complicated to download (untar, unzip) and use (command line usage).
3. Don’t use too many plugins
It’s true that plugins make a lot of things easier or adds needed/wanted function, but it also adds code that needs to be read and rendered while your page is loading. And the more code you have, the longer it’ll take for the browser to load it. I try to stick to approximately 10 plugins, mostly for really important functions, such as for spam, SEO, and caching (see next tip!).
4. Install WP Super Cache
Browser caching means that certain static elements of your page, like your header or older posts/images, are cached so that they don’t have to be rendered live every time a particular page is loaded. Since those elements don’t change often, you can set the cache to anywhere from a week up to a year. The problem is if something does change, a user may not see the change unless she manually clears her browser cache.
5. Try to use asynchronous scripts
Here’s the overview from PageSpeed Insights: “Instead of forcing users to wait for a script to finish downloading before the page renders, a script can be downloaded in the background.” Basically, if you have Google Adsense and Pinterest and social media share plugins, would you rather wait for each of them to load in turn, or have them all load in parallel?
When you are given the option of adding a script to your site, see if there’s an asynchronous version of the script available. If there is, use that version in your widget instead of synchronous ones. PageSpeed Insights also provides a list of popular scripts that can be loaded asynchronously.
Now, instead of having to go to another site to read and render the script, the browser will have everything it needs on hand. Sort of like having a hoard of craft supplies, so you don’t need to head to the craft store every time you want to make something!
Not too bad, right? Make it a habit of compressing your photos before uploading, updating your theme code and cleaning out your plugins occasionally. By doing so, you can keep your site running smoothly and make it inviting for your readers!
Looking for more tips on how to improve your blogging? There’s lots of goodness on my Blogging Tips page, but you can also start here!