Blog visitors are key to success of your site and as a blogger it is your job to increase visitor numbers. One way to attract more visitors is to speed up your page load time and create a faster, more efficient, and improved visitor experience.
Your visitors will love you for it, so might Google and other search engines. Your site might rank higher in search results as page load time is one of the ranking factors.
Check your page load time
First thing first: Let us check your current load time speed. Run the speed tests at these two sites to see how fast or how slow your site is currently:
Any score above 75 is pretty good in my book as it means that your site loads faster than the average. If your score is below 75 or if your want to get an even better page loading time, continue reading for some not-too-techy tips to speed up your page load time.
How to speed up your page load time
- Choose the right host
Having a hosting account is the first step towards having a speedy site as free hosts are usually not too fast and reliable.
Eventually you may outgrow the hosting account and may need to upgrade to a dedicated server but at first it is more than enough to run your site from a standard hosting account that you can get for around $50 per year.
- Choose the right platform
Your blogging platform is what you build your site on, so it is important to get that right. For bloggers WordPress is the option to go for. It is free, it is open-source and comes as a very light and speedy platform out of the box.
WordPress is used by the majority of big bloggers and gets regularly updated with cleaner and leaner coding and functionality.
- Limit the number of plugins you use
I’m currently down to 7 plugins on my blog, down from having some 20+ not too long ago. Check the impact each plugin has on the site load by testing the site with the plugin activated and without the plugin. Consider whether the plugin truly adds any value to your blog before installing it.
Ballpark figure is to try and keep your WordPress blog to 10 plugins or less installed and activated.
- Choose the right design
Premium themes like Thesis and Genesis are developed clean coded, they give you a great flexibility and are speedy out of the box. Premium themes also allow you to customize your blog and in many cases add few pieces of custom code instead of installing another plugin.
Premium themes also have support behind them and are continuously upgraded and improved. This is not always the case with the free-to-use WordPress themes.
- Keep the image size low
Images are an integral part of any blog, they brand your blog and they keep your visitors interested in your blog posts.
What many bloggers do wrong is that they upload the high quality image and resize it inside the WordPress interface to fit their blog post area. This is not good as the size of your images will be huge and will negatively impact the load time.
Keep the image size low, somewhere around 50kb or less for main post image. You do that by resizing it to the exact size you need and compressing it by using “Save for web” or similar in your image editor before you actually upload it to your blog.
- Cache your site
This is arguably the simplest way of speeding up your blog’s load time. Install a caching plugin and activate it. It will automatically speed up your blog by generating static files and serving those files to your visitors. I use “W3 Total Cache” and it does a great job. Search for it in your WordPress plugin interface and activate it.
- Use a Content Delivery Network
“W3 Total Cache” plugin allows you to add CDN (Content Delivery Network) support as well. CDN makes your site load much faster by offloading the static files to data centers around the world. I use MaxCDN on this blog which also compresses some my files.