It has been made public by Google that website loading speed has become a ranking factor. This is very important and very easy to get right especially when you are using WordPress. There are a few tools that come in handy when optimizing loading speed and we will look at them in the order we use them.
GT Metrix is a free tool that measures website loading speed. You will have to get your website loading speed from GT Metrix before starting with your optimization in-order to have a base to work from. DT Metrix not only measures your page loading speed but also shows you which errors are affecting the speed and gives advice on how to fix these errors.
You will need a few tools to fix the errors shown in GT Metrix. Here are the tools to use.
W3 Total Cache
This is a WordPress Plugin. You can search for this WordPress Plugin from the Plugin Directory within WordPress. W3 Total Cache will allow you to fix many of the initial issues shown by GT Metrix. Here are a list of some of the issues it can solve :
Leverage Browser Caching
Set Expire Headers
Setting up a CDN (Max CDN)
And Some More
Using a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
A CDN is a cloud based application which stores some aspects of your website. This allows for faster loading speed as the stored aspects of the website are immediately available to the user. This also allows for enhanced security as the CDN act as a sort of a buffer between your hosting server and the end user. The CDN we use is CloudFlare. This CDN is free and addons can be purchased when you require them.
Images are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to slow loading speed. Images are often much larger than they need to be to display on a PC screen. The second way to optimize images is by scaling them. This is a process where you have different size images for different screens. Eg 1 for a laptop screen and one for a smartphone screen. This can increase load time significantly for smaller screens. There is a great plugin to optimize images : WP Smush – There is a free version of this plugin which works great to optimize images on WordPress. It is available in the Plugin Directory.
Once you have fixed these issues your website loading speed should show at over 90% in GT Metrix. This is more than enough and you really don’t need to load faster than this. If you want to get more tips on optimization techniques you can read more here.
Once page loading speed is sorted you you will move to other aspects of search engine optimization such as Title and Descriptions for your pages and then article structure. You can find many ways to improve your website but remember you have to add content and a few good pages before starting with SEO. Good luck and may you outrank all your competitors.
Timo van Deventer is a SEO Expert in Johannesburg. He owns major ecommerce websites and businesses across the world in various industries. In 2016 TImo helped over 200 business rank on the first page of Google.