Don’t be penalized for a slow site
A couple of months ago, Google add page load time to its site ranking algorithm. Although it is still unclear how much an affect it has on ranking, it is still part of their algorithm. Even if you manage to get that first position in Google search, your page still has to satisfy how long your visitors are willing to wait for the page to load.
WordPress is great for SEO but plugins can kill it
Unless we are doing an e-commerce site for a client, we almost always recommend their site be based on WordPress. The ease of use is both a blessing and a curse. The main problem is that plugins are just so easy to install. Why not add all the bells and whistles? Well, those bells and whistles have a cost. Not in money but in time (page load time).
What to consider when choosing plugins
- Is the plugin absolutely necessary
- Is the plugin compatible with your version of WordPress
- What affect will the plugin have on page load speed
How to determine the affect of a plugin
Even a plugin that you believe brings value to your visitors must be checked to see if it is truly worth the added load time. The easiest method is to use a tool such as those found on pagetest.org . Determining you page load time and plugin speed is easy. Just enter your website address (URL) into the search area and hit enter. It takes about a minute or so for the test to run.
After the test is run, you’ll want to review the waterfall graphic. This graphic indicates the time it took to load various page elements.
The image represents the results after optimizing and deleting plugins. The average load time is now 5.5 seconds which is about half of the 10.5 seconds that I started off with.
How to cut your page load time in half
It’s actually quite easy. First go down the list and find the longest lines. For KeithJamesDesigns.com, we had a couple of plugins that we liked but were causing the page to load slow. For us it was the Google Plus One plugin that by itself was taking over 1 1/2 seconds to load. We then deleted a couple of plugins that were deactivated. Remember that even if the plugin is not active it still loads. The jquery scripts for these plugins were responsible for another 1 1/2 seconds of page load. We still have some work to do to reduce our First Byte Time. This is either do to some errant php code or problems with our host provider. Once this is resolved it will further reduce or page load time by another 1 1/2 seconds, loading our site in less that 4 seconds.
Essential plugins for reducing load time
OK, so we got rid of the bad and the ugly plugins. What next? There are 2 essential plugins that will dramatically reduce your page load time.
- W3 Total Cache – This easy to configure plugin takes the dynamic elements of a WordPress page and basically turns them into static pages. It does this by caching pages and reducing database calls.
- Delete-Revisions – WordPress is great at auto saving your posts. The problem is that all these revisions are saved into your database. Not good. This plugin will delete hundreds if not thousands of revisions that are taking up space in your database and slowing your site down.
The bottom line
You need to regularly check your site’s performance. A once good plugin can have a revision which causes your site to slow down dramatically. An hours worth of time every couple of months spent will insure your page loads quickly and satisfies your visitors.
I’d love to hear back from you after you take a look at your site’s performance. Leave a comment below and let me know how much you were able increase your site’s speed. You can also let me know if you have any questions.