How I Increased My Blog’s Speed, Going From 72 to an 87

I discussed this in a blog post about website speed a while back. But a few months after I wrote that article I went on an hiatus. I returned, but found my blog wasn’t nearly as fast as it used to be.

For starters, let’s look at what my blog’s speed used to look like. Here’s the main tool I use to measure site speed, Google’s PageSpeed Insight.

tomakeawebsitespeed

 

Now you know where I got the numbers from. And for the record, this rating is pretty bad, especially if you are serious about SEO. Google takes site speed into consideration when it determines where you rank in Google. So having a fast website might help your ranking in the search engine.

But how do you get up such a mediocre score? All of the things I walk you through, I have personally done to speed up my blog and get my new PageInsight speed. So here goes.

1. Install a Good/Better WP Caching Plugin

This is probably the single best thing you can do to speed up your blog. I will also give my personal recommendation as to what plugin to use.

I was using the very popular WP Super Cache and it did most of what it was supposed to. But for this go in trying to get my blog’s speed up, I decided to try one of the newer, highly rated plugins.

I decided to try WP Fastest Cache. I noticed a 7 point uptick in my blog’s speed after activating that plugin and tweaking the settings.

This probably varies from site to site, so I recommend you experiment with the various plugins available and weigh the features and effects for yourself.

WP Super Cache is certainly a very good caching plugin, but they’ve been racking up more than a few 1 star reviews for my liking.

Which brings us to the next step.

2. Experiment With Different And New Plugins

This is something I spent probably a good 2 hours~ on. I needed to address a few things to get my blog’s speed up, and I would have liked to bulk address some of them (address several with only one plugin). So I decided to try several out.

There were drops in site speed as a result of some installs, but the scariest was when I installed and activated the GZip Ninja Speed plugin. The install immediately resulted in my website having a 500 error, both when trying to get on the physical website and in the WordPress dashboard.

I even opened up a support ticket with GreenGeeks, but was able to eventually solve the issue myself by deactivating the plugin and removing all traces of it in the .htaccess file.

That was scary, but I corrected it within an hour. So when experimenting with plugins, be careful. Some plugins can add unwanted errors on your blog, or even take it offline.

3. Minify JS, CSS, HTML

This is a common error found in Page Speed Insights. Most likely, if you haven’t already addressed it with a plugin, you will get this error right near the top of the suggestions summary.

First, how does minifying your Javascript, CSS, and HTML help speed up your blog’s loading time?

To put simply, minifying your code will: remove white space characters, new lines, comments in your code, as well as block delimiters.

While these types of things are great if you want your code as readable as possible, they are not required and end up slowing down your blog’s speed.

In other words, removing these things will reduce the amount of code that transfers over the web when someone loads up your webpage, but won’t cause any errors.

So how does one do this? Well, if you think it, there’s a WordPress plugin for it. Sure, there are several ways to do this manually in WordPress but it’s not as easy as leveraging browser caching, and it is easy to prompt errors.

Instead, I recommend installing one of several great minifying plugins (all of which are free).

Autoptimize

My personal favorite, and the one I use for this blog, is Autoptimize. With this plugin you can minify Javascript, CSS, and HTML, but also tweak advanced settings to your liking. Here is a list of some of the options from the advanced settings for Javascript:

Autoptimize Javascript

Autoptimize even has CDN options, where you can include your CDN base URL if you use a Content Delivery Network.

WP Minify Fix

This is an updated version to an older, similar plugin. With WP Minify Fix you can minify your Javascript, CSS, and HTML. Like with the above Autoptimize, you can also specify what you want minified and what you don’t want to be minified. There are a few options for adjusting settings, but this plugin, as of this writing, hasn’t been updated in over a year so I would tread carefully.

WP Minify Fix

4. Optimize Images

The final step I engaged to in to boost this site’s speed was to install a positively rated image optimizing plugin. For this, I used the EWWW Image Optimizer, which has a solid 4.4 / 5 rating. I simply installed it and then bulk optimized my images.

Eww Image Optimizer

After all of that was done, this site’s page speed rose to 87. Not bad. For a more in-depth guide, feel free to check out our previous blog post on page speed.

Page Speed

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