Optimizing Blog Loading Time

Check out my new guide for starting a blog to learn how to go about properly creating your own blog.

Once again it’s time to learn a bit more about managing and marketing a successful blog.
I’m not a blogging expert yet, but I have learned so much about blogging already. Plus I have about a decade of website marketing experience.

Although I offer blog marketing services and SEO analysis for a fee, I am more than happy to share some of my secrets with fellow bloggers in this weekly series. If any of these tips help you, please share them socially. It would be much appreciated.

Here are some of the blogging topics covered so far:

This week the focus is on optimizing blog loading time and why it’s important. This tip is crucial for both search engine optimization and retaining visitors.

Importance or Loading Time for SEO

As with anything in SEO there is some debate over how important loading time is for search engine rankings. Personally I’m pretty sure that a slow loading time can hurt your rankings. Conversely it makes sense that they would reward fast loading sites.

Basically it is beneficial to the search engines for the high ranking sites to load nice and quick. If they load slowly, it may reflect poorly upon the search engine. Also, if a company is willing to spend resources properly optimizing a site for load time and using a quality web host, it is a sign that the site should be more trustworthy.

Most SEO professionals also believe that user metrics such as bounce rate are considered when ranking websites. If your blog loads too slowly, there is a good chance that it would negatively affect your bounce rate. Face it, people are more impatient than ever and they want things right away.

So even if you aren’t too worried about SEO, you should be trying to make your blog load quickly to keep your visitors happy.

How To Check If Your Blog Loading Time Is Adequate

There are various websites and software to measure the loading time of your blog, but many of those won’t tell you what a suitable loading time is. If SEO is important to you, I suggest you use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool.

The PageSpeed tool will give your blog a score out of 100 for how well it appears to be optimized to load quickly. I like to aim for at least 80/100, although some SEO pros just believe a low score would hurt your rankings and that a high score does not directly affect rankings. I believe it could help rankings indirectly though. Besides, I don’t like to leave potential SEO factors to chance since the Google rankings algorithm is always changing.

Just keep in mind that improving loading time alone is unlikely to boost your rankings unless it is a major problem. It is one of the many hoops that you have to jump through to get lots of search engine traffic.

What You Can Do To Improve PageSpeed

Within the PageSpeed tool it will list many different areas that you can address to improve your PageSpeed score. Honestly though, unless you have a technical background, it will be tough to understand the issues listed and even tougher to actually address them.

If your score is below 60 you may want to hire someone to help you out with optimizing your PageSpeed score. That isn’t my specialty, but I might be able to refer you to someone if you’re stuck.

Here are some things you can to improve loading time though:

  • Quality Web Hosting Company: The company you choose to host your blog with is of utmost importance. I’ve used many hosts over the years, but have stuck with HostGator since they have been very reliable. A web host with outdated hardware or mismanaged servers can really slow down a website. Worse yet, it may lead to frequent outages which is a red flag to search engines.
  • Optimize Your Images: Ideally you’d have a graphics program such as Adobe Photoshop that allows you to ‘Save For Web’. Be sure to manually resize images beforehand instead of resizing them with html. For most images, you’ll want to save them as jpg. If your image has very few colors, saving as a gif would likely result in a lower filesize.
  • Optimizing Image References: When you add an image to a post, your sidebar or elsewhere, you should remember to specify image dimensions like this: width=”100″ heigth=”100″ (with your actual dimensions instead of 100). Also try to host all of your blog images on your own server. If you reference an image hosted somewhere else it can add extra loading time.
  • Limiting Excessive Plugins: Over the life of your blog you’ve probably found all kinds of different plugins to enhance your blog. The problem is that each of those blogs is likely slowing down your blog a bit. If possible remove some plugins that you don’t really need. The same could be said for any extra images or ads that aren’t necessary.
  • Installing a Caching Plugin: To limit the number of times that your database needs to be accessed, you should install a caching plugin. I’ve been using W3 Total Cache, but there are lots of different plugins you can try.
  • Optimizing Your Database: Over time your database can get rather bloated and inefficient. To help resolve this problem, I suggest you install 2 plugins: Revision Control and WP-DBManager. Revision Control will allow you to limit how many different revisions of each post are kept. WP-DBManager actually optimizes and repairs your database.

There is a lot more you can do to improve the loading time of your blog, but this should give you a good start. Hopefully that wasn’t all too overwhelming. You can still run a successful blog without this kind of technical knowledge, but you should find someone who can help out when needed. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions.

Anyone care to share their PageSpeed score? I think mine is 86/100. Is there anything else you would recommend to improve loading time? Is there something I recommended that you just didn’t realize?

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