“Okay, here we go. Focus. Speed. I am speed. One winner, forty-two losers.”
– Lightning McQueen, Disney-Pixar Cars
Alright friends, let’s focus on speed today. Your blog/website’s speed that is. I want you to be the winner with a “faster than fast, quicker than quick” site load time.
Having a fast loading site will improve your SEO, make your visitors happier (and less likely to leave), and generate more sales.
When you run your site through Google’s page speed test or WebPageTest, you will get a lot of technical feedback for improving your site’s load time. Those are all good practices, but there are also a lot of simple ways to speed up your site.
*There are affiliate links in this post.
Here are 12 easy ways to to speed up your blog’s load time.
1. Choose the right hosting.
Cheap hosting doesn’t always equal quality or fast hosting. If you want your blog to load fast, make sure you are on a server that is suitable for the amount of content and traffic you are receiving. Most of the basic shared hosting plans have hundreds of sites on one server. Naturally, your blog is going to load slowly.
Just this week Bill Erickson, WordPress genius said,
Site load time is a major factor in search engine rankings, as well as in determining how likely it is for a visitor to stay on your site.
A developer optimizing a theme could save microseconds on the load time, but switching to a managed WordPress host like Synthesis could decrease your load time by seconds.” -Bill Erickson via CopyBlogger
Having the right hosting is one of the biggest keys to a fast website. Here are my top tips for picking out the right hosting for your blog.
2. Register your domain somewhere other than your hosting company.
I used to think that people recommended registering your domain somewhere other than your hosting company so that they could get an additional affiliate commission. However, I learned from Jesse Petersen (WordPress and Genesis expert) that registering your domain through a company that specializes in domains can really boost your load speed. Here’s an example:
This is what you get if you pick Bluehost as your domain registrar. Don’t do this, people. pic.twitter.com/mSDCPeItzV
— Jesse Ⓦ Petersen (@jpetersen) December 3, 2014
I switched my domains to NameCheap and it resulted in this site loading 3 seconds faster than when my domain was registered with my hosting.
3. Use a quality theme.
Recently I wrote about why your blog theme needs to be sexy and smart. A “smart” theme is coded for optimum load speed. A lot of themes or even custom designs could slow down your site. Before purchasing a theme, run it through a page speed test to see how fast the demo loads.
4. Optimize your images.
As I mentioned in my post on optimizing images, pictures are the #1 cause of s-l-o-w loading blogs. Make sure you are resizing and saving for web before you upload your pictures. Also, avoid using HTML to restrict the size of your image.
5. Use decoration images sparingly.
Going along with a quality theme and images, limiting the amount of decorational images will help improve your blog load speed too. Instead of using pictures for borders, dividers, titles, categories, sidebar bio, etc. use CSS and actual text.
BONUS: this method is better for your SEO too. Usually, your widget titles, categories, and bio include all the keywords you want to be ranking for in search.
6. Limit the number of fonts.
Fonts are fun, but loading too many fonts on your blog is another thing that can slow down your load time. When selecting web fonts in Google Fonts, they will monitor the load time for you and alert you if it will slow your site down:
7. Use post excerpts.
There are a lot of benefits to showing post excerpts (summaries) instead of the full article. One of them being that displaying excerpts instead of the full posts will help your blog load faster. Instead of loading all of the images and content in every post displayed on the page, the browser can quickly load the excerpts and featured image.
8. Limit your plugins.
There is no magical number for the amount of plugins you should have. Some plugins won’t affect your page load speed, while other plugins can really slow down your site. Use the P3 plugin to test which plugins are slowing down your site and decide whether or not they are necessary. Also, remove any inactive plugins or duplicate plugins.
9. Use a cache plugin.
According to WordPress.org, “WordPress caching is the fastest way to improve performance.”
Some hosting plans, like those from SiteGround, come with caching options or you can use the W3 Total Cache plugin
Note: Make sure to disable or flush your cache when you are making any coding edits to your site!
10. Turn off pingbacks and trackbacks.
This is the most recent thing I did to speed up my blog. Having pingbacks and trackback enabled is a great way to see who is sharing your post on their blog, but it takes up some of your speed juice to pull that information. My blog has been loading half a second faster now (on average) that I don’t have pingbacks and trackbacks enabled. To disable pingbacks and trackbacks navigate from your WordPress dashboard to Settings > Discussion
11. Limit Ads.
Script based ads can really slow your blog down. I recently performed a test on a blog using Passionfruit ads. With the ads activated, her blog loaded in 22.4 seconds (yikes). When I deactivated the ads, her blog loaded in 16.8 seconds. That’s a big difference.
Obviously, you want to make money. Find a balance between having ads and having your page load fast. If your page doesn’t load fast enough for your visitors to see your ads your not going to make money anyway, and the people paying for ad space won’t be satisfied enough to pay for them again.
12. Use default WP comment system.
Third party comment systems (like Disqus or Facebook) are popular these days, but they can also be added to the list of things that slow your blog down. If your site is taking a long time to load, you might want to consider switching back to the default WordPress comment system. For more reasons on the benefits of using WordPress’ default comment system check out Dustin’s post, What is the best commenting system for my blog.
An alternative is to set the Disqus comments to load conditionally (enable a button that says, “Show comments”). You can use this plugin to load Disqus conditionally, or Sridhar has a great tutorial for how conditionally load Disqus without a plugin (must be paying customer to access the full tutorial).
There you have it. 12 ways you can speed up your blog’s load time today. I’d love to hear your success stories! See how fast your site loads, implement one (or multiple) of these methods and then come back and tell me how fast your site loads after the changes!