With the New Year comes many goals and plans for blog owners that they may have put off the past year.
Besides running their business, generating an income, development contacts and ensuring they’re on track, backend maintenance to an entrepreneur’s website is just as important. While you could easily hire someone to do it for you, it’s best to make sure you know what’s going on yourself.
You’ll notice I haven’t posted in a few months, which is not like me, but I took the latter part of 2010 off to focus on a new company I was working to get off the ground. Now that it’s pretty much running smoothly, I thought I’d get back into blogging and started by ensuring this site was running at top speed (as much as possible, that is).
The great thing about WordPress is the many tweaks you can make have an instant improvement on your site’s performance.
I put together a few tips that helped me speed things up and get me ranked higher in Google, now that they consider a site’s speed when deciding where you fit amongst the search results.
- Delete unnecessary and unused plugins — Plugins take up storage space on your server and bog down your website. Use as few as possible and delete the ones that you’ve deactivated.
- Minimize widget use — Many blogs use widgets for a number of things, such as their Twitter feed, RSS subscriber numbers and other fun add-ons. If you must use them, use only one or two. When your blog loads, the server waits for all of these extras to respond and it slows down the load time of your site overall.
- Compress your images — Whenever you upload an image, make sure it’s as small as possible, while still not sacrificing quality. Use JPGs for photos, PNGs for transparent graphics and GIFs for logos and other small images that don’t require a lot of color. GIF will be the smallest format, followed by JPG and then PNG. Avoid the BMP format at all costs. If server space is an issue, consider a free service like Flickr to host your images.
- Use a cache plugin — Caching your site’s content makes it load faster for returning visitors and saves on server resources because files that don’t change often, such as your CSS file and design images, are stored on a user’s computer for when they return. I highly recommend W3 Total Cache plugin for WordPress. It’s very easy to configure and work’s great.
- Use a CDN — If you really want to take speed seriously and have some money to spend, a Content Delivery Network (CDN) may be for you. Basically it’s a third party service besides your web host that hosts data and pulls it from the server closest to where your visitors are located. I personally use MaxCDN, which offers 1000 GB (1 TB) for $39.95. I’ve always been pleased with them and they have great customer service.
In the end, the web standard has become to have a fast website to deliver your customers exactly what they’re looking for in the quickest amount of time possible. If they have to wait several seconds for your content to load, they will easily click off and visit your competition.
A free tool to test your site’s current speed is iWebTool.com. Anything under 2 seconds is acceptable.
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