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Quick Tricks to Increase Site Speed for SEO (Plus Infographic)

Increase Site SpeedSite speed and page load time are becoming more and more important for several reasons. It improves both the visitor experience and makes it more likely that the visitor will find you in the first place. Needless to say, improving your site speed should get at least a little bit of attention from you.

In terms of reader/visitor experience, a faster website is obviously better. Each second that a new visitor has to wait for your site to load is a second that they might leave. People have insanely short attention spans.

Google knows this. And they have been incorporating page load times into their ranking algorithm for quite some time now. That means that every marginal improvement in site speed that you make is a chance for better rankings (and a better chance that your content will be discovered in the first place).

Given all this, I know that this blog is way to slow!

Below you will find an infographic that illustrates the relationship between site speed and SEO. But first, I want to give you some actionable tips that you can use to increase site speed.

Note: I use WordPress, and approximately a quarter of all new websites launched today do to, so some of these tips will be focused in speeding up WordPress. However, if you don’t use WordPress just focus on the function of the tool/plugin I mention and see if you can replicate it on whatever platform you use.

Let’s begin by actually measure your site speed now

Tools to Measure Your Site Speed

Before you begin to try to increase your site speed you should analyze it to see where you might be facing potential problems. Without this step you are basically trying to heal a disease without diagnosing it first. Always start with a plan of action…no matter what you do.

Google Webmaster Tools If you haven’t hooked up your site to Google Webmaster Tools you should do so. Among other things, you can monitor the general health of your website. Sometimes you will spot problems that can greatly affect your site speed. I’ve stated before that I have a love/hate relationship with Google. And this tool is part of the reason I love it.

Google Site Speed This is a free extension that you can install to your browser that will help analyze your site speed. As usual, it’s available for Chrome and Firefox. Unfortunately it seems that IE Explorer is left behind again.

Pingdom If you don’t want to install anything, Pingdom offers a great free tool to test and analyze your site speed. Just visit the link, enter your URL, and the tool will do the rest.

If for some reason you don’t like any of these tools, a simple search should yield you plenty of other tools that you can take advantage of. I’ve always found these to be enough however.

Now let’s talk about speeding up WordPress…

WordPress Plugins to Increase Site Speed

Most of these plugins made the list of “Top WordPress Plugins” that I previously put together. The only new comer would be WP Smush.it (which I discovered after the fact). 

If you are running your site or blog on WordPress, you have to install these plugins. They will do wonders for increasing your site speed.

WP Smush.it This is a plugin that automatically optimizes your images, compresses them, and strips them of any unnecessary data that can eventually really add up and take a toll on your site performance.

Lazy Load This is another image-related plugin. This plugin hold off on loading images below the fold until the visitor actually scrolls down to view them. This way the images don’t automatically load, and the visitor can see the initial content faster.

Revision Control WordPress automatically stores a revision history for pages and posts. But it’s likely that you don’t need 10 copies of the same, slightly-revised content. This plugin allows you to set a limit on how many revisions of each page or post you will save.

W3 Total Cache This plugin caches your site or blog so that visitors don’t have to load the entire thing from scratch every time they visit. It also gives you the option to clear the cache; something you should use when you make major changes to the site.

WP Optimize This plugin optimizes your WordPress database and clears it of any unnecessary, old and redundant data. I run this every once in a while to delete things like spam comments, for example. It’s annoying enough to be bombarded with spam on a regular basis. It’s even more annoying to have those spam comments take up vital resources and slow down the load time of the blog.

Remember that Less is More! I’m certainly guilty of this sometimes. I like to experiment and test things out. And that includes playing around with WordPress plugins. However, the more plugins you install the more strain you are putting on your site (which slows down load times).

Delete unused plugins and themes. And try to keep the plugins you use to only the ones you deem necessary to the functionality of your site or blog.

A Couple of Ninja Tricks to Increase Site Speed

Use External Storage

 This is something that I really started doing recently. I’ve always known that media eats up a lot of storage resources but never paid much attention to it because I don’t post too much video or audio, and usually post a single image per post.

However, these things really add up over time; especially when you start sharing infographics.

A lot of bloggers and site owners recommend Amazon s3 storage for media. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s a great service. But I prefer to take the free option whenever possible.

So far I’ve used these services:

DropboxI’ve tried other cloud storage services but none are as easy to use as Dropbox in terms of actually embedding or sharing the content. All you have to do is load up whatever media you want to use and share to your Dropbox account, copy the “public” link it provides you, and embed or email it out.

This is what I use for some of my video storage (i.e. webcasts) and product delivery.

Kiwi6This is a great service for free mp3 storage. If you run a podcast on your blog/site or just host a lot of audio, this might be a great option. This service also makes it easy to embed the audio by providing you a direct hotlinking address.

WordPress.com: Yes, the free version of WordPress has plenty of advantages too. Namely, it’s free and it’s still WordPress. I created a free account to store large images like the infographic you will see below. Then I just hotlink to them and display them (like you see in this post).

That way I still have the image in my WordPress account, but it’s not being stored under my hosting account.

Hotlinking like this doesn’t work in all instances however. If you go to this blog’s homepage you will see thumbnails of featured images for many of the blog posts. The featured image must be in your self-hosted media library.

Speaking of hotlinking…

Preventing Hotlinking 

While I am in favor of hotlinking out to other sites (especially my own free WordPress account) I don’t particularly want people hotlinking to images I am hosting.

It slows me down.

While the solution I present here may not prevent 100% of people trying to hotlink to my images, it will give me some free promotion from those who do decide to hotlink my images.

I insert this code into my .htaccess file which automatically replaces any hotlinking attempts to an image with an image of my choosing. And the image of my choosing looks like this:

Hotlinking Image

When someone tries to hotlink to an image I am hosting, this is the image they will get instead. It used to lead directly to the sales page of my Strategic Content Launch Pad book. But now it redirects to the Marketing Toolbox Signup Page.

Below is the .htaccess code that I use to accomplish this (I have other code in the file, but this is the one that directly applies to this hotlinking feature).

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(www\.)?contentstrategyhub.com/.*$ [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(www\.)?linkedin.com/.*$ [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(www\.)?onlineincomeschool.com/.*$ [NC]
RewriteRule \.(gif|jpg)$ http://www.contentstrategyhub.com/hotlinking.jpg [R,L]

Feel free to copy-and-paste this and insert it into your own .htaccess file. You will notice that I have a few websites listed that are exempted from this “rewrite” rule. One of them is LinkedIn.

When I created this file it seemed that LinkedIn was the only social network that rewrite rule actually affected, and it wouldn’t load the thumbnails I wanted it to when sharing my content. That’s a serious problem for me because I do a lot of my promotion on LinkedIn (and get much better results than I normally do with Facebook).

Site Speed and SEo Infographic

Finally, to end this post, here is an infographic from QuickSprout displaying how important it is to increase site speed to improve SEO.

Enjoy :).

 Page Load Time SEO

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7 Responses to Quick Tricks to Increase Site Speed for SEO (Plus Infographic)

  1. Kris Olin says:

    Great speed tips, mate!

    I’m using W3 Total Cache and Better Delete Revisions to speed up my blog. The biggest issue I find though are the images. If you don’t know how to optimise your images your website can be really slow. Use one of the plugins, or better yet optimise them before you even upload them in Photoshop for instance. Anything over 100 KB should be considered too big.

    Cheers,
    Kris

    • Eugene Farber says:

      I definitely need to do a better job with the image editing. That’s part of the reason I started hosting the big ones (like the infographics) offsite.

      After writing this post I decided to not be a hypocrite and speed up the page load times. They’re still slower than I would like but a DRASTIC improvement over the abysmal load time I had before.

      Turns out the major problem was a plugin that I wasn’t even using. Then I made some marginal improvements by getting plugins I could technically do without.

      The way I figured out which ones to get rid of was, ironically, another plugin :). Very cool one:

      http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/p3-profiler/

  2. Lance Longstreet says:

    wow!!this is all the information I am looking for the past 24 hours.
    your points are well- presented and it is very easy to understand.
    i understand now how important to optimize your website.
    and lastly, I agree that load time affect Goggle rankings.
    so be wise..use tools that can help you decrease your loading time..

    thank you very much for this. i learned a lot. :)

  3. sweetie says:

    where to check server speed

  4. If you ask me, if I have to wait for so long a time for a website to load, I immediately form an impression that it might be too loaded with insignificant content. I don’t know if it’s even a valid subconscious conclusion. But that’s what I find myself thinking.

    • Eugene Farber says:

      That’s an interesting point. That might cross some people’s mind. But combine that with just simple impatience, and a slow site is killer. This blog was actually crawling when I wrote this post…and it gave me a kick in the ass to do something about it. So the load speed now is greatly improved (still some ways to go though).

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