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Is Your Website Fast Enough?

August 24, 2017 - Posted in Google

How quickly does your site load when a viewer pulls it up in their browser?

How about how quickly it loads on mobile (a phone or tablet)?

Do you know? If not, that lack of knowledge could be hurting your business.

Facebook recently let users know that they now take into consideration how fast your page loads on mobile devices on whether it boosts visibility of your site-connected posts or not. Just another reason to do as much as possible to make things snappy!

It is important to note that Google, Facebook, and many other sites where content can be posted or shared take into account how fast the content loads on a viewer’s screen. Why is that? Because a faster page load time (usually) means a better user experience, which is what they (and your user) wants. Nobody will sit and wait 30 seconds for your website to load! (In fact, over three seconds could be costing you visitors.)

This can affect everywhere your site is posted — on your personal Facebook page, on your business Facebook page, and even on other social media platforms that can auto-post to facebook (such as Twitter).

Where to Start

The first thing to check is how fast your site loads. This can be done via free tools available online.

Why four different sites? Well actually, there are more out there, but these three are the most widely used. Each one takes different factors into consideration, so it’s best to test your site (and strive for high scores) on all three.

For example, Google Pagespeed Insights tests factors on a site that Google, specifically, “likes” to see on/in a website. Now, Google is indeed the number one search engine by a wide margin, but that doesn’t mean that only the things they want to see on a site are important. That’s why you need to see the issue from multiple points of view, using various tools (more about this can be found on GTMetrix’s page “The Difference Between GTmetrix, PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom Tools, and WebPagetest”).

Making Your Website Faster

So, now that you’ve tested your site, how did it do?

If you received low marks (as the majority of unoptimized sites do — you’re not alone!), each site will list ways in which you can optimize your site to perform better the next time you test it.

The issue is that most of the feedback these sites give you is pretty apocryphal. How exactly DOES one concatenate JS and CSS code on your website?

What YOU Can Do, NOW

If you’re the type that doesn’t want to muck around on your site for fear of breaking something — or if you simple don’t have the time, just contact us and we’ll chat about how to get your site as fast as it can be.

However, if you’d like to give it a go yourself, there are plenty of resources and tools out there at your disposal (many free in their basic form, with a premium upgrade available).

The first thing to do is check out a few well written, easy-to-follow guides published on the web by various sources:

…and there’s plenty more on the Internet where those came from!

You’ll notice that those guides frequently mention the same tactics that contribute to a faster page load speed, including:

  • Optimizing (Decreasing) Image Sizes
  • Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
  • Use PHP7 Code
  • Fix all Broken/Redirected Links
  • Clean up your code/fix any errors
  • Minify/compress your HTML, CSS, and JS code/files
  • Optimize Your Database
  • Delete Unused Plugins and Themes (even if not activated)
  • Use a caching plugin
  • Host your website via a reliable, fast hosting company

Now, if any (or all) of that looks like gibberish, have no fear! There are easy ways to tackle many of these bullet points on your own via free WordPress plugins.

The Speed Plugins

Below is a list of seven plugins that we use at Brothers Design on all of our own pages, as well as on client sites that we optimize. Go ahead and download/install via your WordPress backend (in the Plugins section), and then re-test your site to see how it affected your site’s load time.

  1. Broken Link Checker: searches your site for broken and redirected links, and makes fixing them easy.
  2. EWWW or ShortPixel Image Optimizer: decreases your image sizes so that they load faster (EWWW does it without losing any image quality, while ShortPixel does it quite a bit more while losing a bit of image quality).
  3. Fast Velocity Minify: just install it and turn it on — it’ll do everything you need on its own.
  4. W3 Total Cache: a full-featured program to cache your website (which makes it faster to load on the viewer’s end). There are tons of features, so I recommend just downloading the best settings from Online Media Masters, and importing them using the directions on the same page.
  5. WP-Optimize: cleans all of the gunk out of your database, which is what stores the bulk of the content on your WordPress website. Run it every so often to keep things quick and clean.
  6. Remove Query Strings From Static Resources: another one of those “set it and forget it” type plugins — just install it, turn it on, and it does the rest in the background.
  7. Hide Trackbacks: stops your site from “pinging” itself, which happens when you link to your own content in your pages or posts. which is something you don’t want. Again, just install it, turn it on, and forget it.

All of these plugins are free to use, and can be downloaded from the WordPress.org repository, or directly from your WordPress back-end (under the Plugins menu).

Keep in mind that if any of these “break” your site, just turn them off (or delete their folder via FTP) and your site will be back to normal.

Those are just the basics, but should be enough to help you get ahead of the majority of your competition!

Further Assistance

If you have further questions, would like a free site audit, or would like to pass on the time-consuming task of speeding up YOUR site, just give us a call at (248) 270-8121, or send a message and we’ll get back to you shortly.