And The One Thing That Kills It The Most
To Do Or Not To Do
How to increase the speed of your website has been a question on the mind of many
entrepreneurs for a very long time. Google first started using pagespeed to rank desktop
searches. However mobile pagespeed has become especially important in the last 2 years
because Google uses it as a ranking Factor. Google’s “speed update” in January 2018, made
the speed of your mobile website a factor to be considered as well. When someone
becomes an entrepreneur, depending on how they are going to market themselves, having
a website or three is usually very important. It does, however, come with its own challenges. In
the past, optimizing the speed of your websitewas somewhat of a question. Nowadays if you
want your website to rank in search engines, it is a necessity.
GTMetrix is a very in-depth, non-bias way to test.
This is debatable but most webmasters would say no.
Website Page Loading Time is a large factor in ranking on Google.
No. A websites speed is constantly changing.
Not if you follow the template in this article.
My Site Is FAST
I have a WordPress website that is five months old. Now in the grand scheme of things, this is
still incredibly young. However I now know how to have an incredibly fast website. It took me
four and a half months to go from very little knowledge of how to build and manage a website, to
having one that scores 100% and 98% on GTMetrix.
Now if I had not been learning at the same time, I most likely could have gotten to this
point much quicker. Unfortunately we have to factor in the learning curve that I experienced. The
good news is that this article can serve as a guide to having an extremely fast desktop and
mobile website very quickly. If I had to guess, I would say that this template could be followed and
a fast website achieved in about two to three months.
Want To Learn How To Increase The Speed Of Your Website?
I am now going to go through all of the methods, plugins and strategies that I use on my website
to achieve such high speeds. Now keep in mind, however, that this may not work for everyone.
Having a website, especially a WordPress website, can have different outcomes when it comes
to plugins and methods that you use. Although a particular setup may work very well for one
person, it will completely wreck the website of another. The only thing you can really do is try
one way, and if it doesn’t work, uninstall that particular plug in and try another.
Use A Good Hosting Provider
This is something that I actually did not know to consider beforehand. Thankfully it was not as big of
an issue as it could have been. Before you buy your domain name, you need to pick a good hosting
platform. I use Bluehost, and even though this is not a very good hosting platform for Speed, it did
not amount to as big of an issue as I thought. Hosting providers like Bluehost and GoDaddy and any
others that use the shared server setup, are not taking into consideration website speed. These companies
are just trying to put as many people on a single server as they can to try to maximize profits. With
Bluehost and some of the others you do have the option to upgrade and utilize a solo server platform,
but this is certainly not very important in the beginning and can be changed later.
Start With A Good Theme
I went through three or four different website templates before I realized that I needed one that was
optimized for what I was looking for. In the beginning it was all about making my website look
attractive and usable. I would try it for a while and then decide either I didn’t like it or it wasn’t
working well for me because it didn’t have the customization options I wanted. Eventually I started
looking at the speed of my website, particularly mobile page speed. This is because every time I
went to Google Pagespeed Insights, I always had a horrible mobile page speed. As I researched
how to fix this, I realized that the theme that I was currently using was not even optimized for
AMP or mobile pagespeed. I finally found a theme called Neve, that was fast, lightweight,
had all of the customization options that I was looking for, and most importantly was
optimized for mobile.
Compact The Database
One of the most important aspects that I was not taking into consideration for the first
three months, was compacting the database. WordPress uses MYSQL for its database necessities.
Databases in general accumulate in size over time, and contain all sorts of erroneous data that
contribute to their overall size and slows them down. I use a plugin called WP-Optimize and it
works tremendously well. It executes a myriad of tasks including:
- Optimizing database tables
- Cleaning all post revisions
- Cleaning all auto-draft posts
- Cleaning all trashed posts
- Removing spam and trashed comments
- Removing unapproved comments
It also does many other operations as well, although these are more intrusive actions on the
database and it is recommended that you backup your website first.
The first time I compacted my database, I was able to shed 90 Mb of data from my archive file
backup. Keeping a compact database makes any website much faster.
WP-Optimize does a few other things as well, but I have these features turned off and I will
explain why in a bit.
Image optimization is also a very important factor in increasing the speed of your website. Not only
will optimizing images drastically reduce their size, but will also have them load in next-gen formats
such as WebP. This format is smaller in size and is able to be loaded much quicker than a regular
image format such as png or jpeg. It is important to understand that by default WordPress takes
every image you upload and turns it into three different sizes. On top of that, the theme you use
might also make different sizes. You could end up with somewhere between 5 and 10 different sizes
for every image you upload. The overall size of your image gallery can get extremely large very
quickly and will slow down your website. I use a plugin called EWWW Image Optimizer and have a
premium option called EasyIO enabled. Images I upload are automatically compressed and
changed to WebP format.
Use A CDN
Using a CDN, or Content Delivery Network is now almost a necessity to achieve the website
speed you desire. Hosting providers as a whole are too congested and don’t provide the speed
necessary. It is possible to achieve this if you find a really good provider, as well as paid for the
upgraded Network availability. It is usually cheaper and a better idea to use a CDN because they
also provide additional capabilities that further optimize your site for Speed. I use Cloudflare,
one of the most popular CDN’s available today. Not only does Cloudflare have the ability to decrease
the latency of showing your website to people, it also comes with an extensive list of other options.
CDN’s also offer something called Whole Site Delivery or Whole Page Delivery, where they serve
up a cached version right away.
Do Whatever Your CDN Doesn’t
A CDN like Cloudflare offers many different customization options. These are all things that can also
be achieved by adding different plugins to your website. The important thing to remember is that the
more you can have these actions completed by the server, the faster your site will be. What I mean is
that there are two ways to complete these actions, server-side and client-side. Anything that is
occurring from a plugin on your website is considered client-side, and anything happening elsewhere
like on your CDN is server-side. You want to have as much of these actions being done on the server
side. These are things such as:
- Lazy-loading images
- Scaling of images
- URL pre-fetching
- Caching of the browser, images and more
Use your CDN for as much of these actions as you can, and use a plug-in for whatever it does not.
An important thing to remember is that you never want to have two things doing the same action. This
will cause a degradation in performance because they will fight each other for dominance.
This Got Me Most Of The Way
The setup I’ve just described got me to the point where I was getting a “C” rating on pagespeed
and “B” on Yslow. At this point I considered my speed to be pretty good because I was unaware of
how to get any higher. I was doing all of the tricks that I could possibly find on the internet. I tried
multiple plugins that offered the ability to optimize this, compress that, or serve up code in a more
compact and asynchronous manner. Unfortunately this seemed to be a point where I was unable
to change my speed and I kind of got stuck. Nothing else that I did seemed to really make any difference,
until I did this…
The Surprise Factor
There is a way to get a perfect pagespeed score. It was not something that I even considered until I
got to the point where I was at my wit’s end. I am somewhat of a perfectionist and the fact that I can
only get to a certain point was driving me crazy. I started running the analysis from GTMetrix on my
website every day. I would then go into the results and look to see what the problem was so
that I could fix it. There was one major factor that was keeping my website slow, and it was
website redirects. Now I’m not brand new to computers, in fact I have a graduate degree in IT,
but when I saw over twenty redirects that looked like this:
I was at a loss of what to do…
Discovered On Accident
I am an entrepreneur, however, so I don’t shy away from a challenge and I immediately began
trying to research how to fix the issue. I searched on the web and watched YouTube videos for days
trying to learn how to get rid of these redirects. One of the videos that I watched mentioned that
Google AdSense was not good for website performance. Looking at the redirects themselves I could
see that some of them contained references to Google and AdSense. This gave me the impression
that serving ads on my website was at least part of the problem. I was using a plugin called
Site Kit by Google, which allows anyone to show ads and see analytics from their respective Google
accounts. So I disconnected my Adsense Account. I was getting ready to check if it changed the
speed of my website, when I remembered that I had to get rid of everything. So I uninstalled the
entire plugin, compacted the database, cleared the cache on my website and on Cloudflare, reran
the test and got this:
I Tested To Make Sure
This was amazing! I could not believe it! I was so excited! Deleting the Google Site Kit plugin got
rid of every single redirect issue I had! How could this be? Was it a fluke?! I reran the test about
three more times to make sure it was real, and it definitely was.
Then I started thinking and wondering if a different plugin would be better? Perhaps there was a
plugin that would still serve Google Adsense ads but not slow down my site. I didn’t want to stop
serving ads altogether, but one of the videos that I was watching on YouTube said that it was better
to wait until you had traffic before adding this component. But if I could find a way to continue to
serve ads on my website without slowing it down, that would certainly be ideal. I decided to go
to the WordPress Marketplace and see what else was offered.
I tried Advanced Ads
The first plug-in I tried was called Advanced ads. It had the ability to just connect my AdSense
account and run ads very similarly to what I was doing before. The setup was fairly clean and
straightforward and at first I thought this was going to be the answer I was looking for. Unfortunately,
and to my dismay, when I re-ran a speed test, my pagespeed had immediately dropped to a “C”.
This was certainly not what I wanted.
Then I tried Ad Inserter
I moved on to the next plugin, and after compacting the db and clearing the cache, I installed a
plugin called Ad Inserter. Ad Inserter was a little different, as it did not have the ability to just
directly connect my AdSense account. it did however, give me the ability to either create my own ads
or go through the process of creating an API key or Google and connecting in a different way. The
problem here was that my research was to find a plugin where I could connect my AdSense account
directly. As this was not the case, I also moved on to the next.
Finally I tried WP Quads
I also tried a plug-in called WP quads. This seemed very promising at first as it appeared to ave a
very clean UI and what appeared to be very good capability. I proceeded to connect my account
and set up all the options of this plugin to the point where it was in working order. I was
unfortunately disappointed yet again as my page speed score dropped this time to a “D”. this was
the worst rating yet and I certainly was not going to let it continue. Not only that, but a majority
of the redirect issues also resurfaced. this was not going to be the plug in for me.
I Agreed To Let It Go
After having tried the top three results when I searched in the marketplace for AdSense and had
not found a viable candidate, I decided to wait. Due to the fact that page speed is such a big
factor in Google rankings now, I ended up agreeing with the gentleman on that video I watched.
It seemed better to utilize the better pagespeed for the moment and wait until my website gains
more traffic. Now granted I know now that I can use Ad Inserter to connect my AdSense account
through an API key. This will hopefully force the rendering and serving of images to happen on the
side of Google which will hopefully save my speed. However this is going to take some time as it
requires some tricky configuration and coding. I felt it best to revisit the issue at a later date
and to hopefully capitalize on the minor boost in rankings that my current pagespeed would provide.
Voila: How To Increase The Speed Of Your Website
Well there it is ladies and gentlemen. This is the exact template that I currently used to achieve
amazing speeds on my website. If you already have a website, you may certainly add or
change any of the components that you are currently utilizing. Otherwise, you now know how
to create a website from beginning to end and have a double “A” rating on GTMetrix.
Best of luck to you in the future.
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