Contributed by ProBlogger SEO expert Jim Stewart of BloggersSEO.com.
Whether you’re a hobby blogger or have turned your blog into a business, your main goal is always going to be increasing the number of visitors you have to your site.
The way most of your visitors will find your blog is by searching on Google and finding it high in the search rankings. The closer to number one your site lands, the more people who will see it and visit your page.
The big question is: how do you get your site ranked closer to the number one spot?
When the Googlebot crawls your site, it judges its worth according to a number of factors. Improve any of them and your site should improve in the rankings.
One of the most important factors, and one of the easiest to fix, is your site speed. The site speed is a measurement of how long it takes between the time someone clicks on your link and when they can see everything on your page. If your site is optimised correctly it should take half a second or less, and it will look instantaneous to the viewer.
If something on your site lags or hangs up, viewers will be stuck waiting for your page to load. Readers are impatient; if your page takes more than a second or two, the odds are good that they’ll click away and look somewhere else.
In fact Google research shows you’ll lose 40% of your traffic if a page takes three seconds or longer to load. And that’s a lost reader, a lost shopper and, ultimately, potentially lost money.
Create a Benchmark
You’ll have no way of knowing how well you improve if you don’t find out where you’re starting from. Finding your base numbers, or benchmark, is easy to do using the Google Search Console.
If you’ve never used it before, log on to the Search Console and add your site by clicking onto the “Add Property” box.
Once you have your site in the console, you can find your site speed, the number of impressions your site gets each day, and a whole host of other data. Make a note of your starting numbers before you begin working on your site.
Increasing Your Speed
If you’ve had your blog or website a while you may be blaming your site host on your speed problems.
After all, you probably see ads every day promising to give your site lightning fast speed if you switch, right? Your web host may or may not be adding to your speed problems, but they’re the last thing you should consider. Optimise your site to make it as fast as possible where it stands before even thinking about moving it. Otherwise, you might be bringing along a bunch of problems to your new host, and end up with the same problems as before.
It’s All About the Cache
A cache system tells visiting computers that they’ve been there before, and that they don’t have to go to all the trouble of searching the entire site again. It remembers details for visitors’ computers, skipping the time they’d otherwise spend downloading details. If you have return visitors to your blog, this can significantly speed up load time. If you’re blogging on WordPress, I recommend the ZenCache plugin.
It’s easy to configure while it optimises your site for speed.
Clear Your Database
The Googlebot can’t move smoothly through your blog if it’s cluttered with useless pages. The most effective thing you can do to speed up your site is to optimise your database.
This is simpler than it sounds. It’s just a matter of clearing old data that’s no longer required.
- Delete old posts and comments
- Empty the trash
- Delete any plugins you’re no longer using
- Get rid of draft posts
- Toss out duplicate pages and pictures
The idea is to create as much virtual white space as possible, to allow the Googlebot to crawl freely through your site.
Look for Robot Problems
Every time you install a new plugin, make sure it hasn’t affected your robots.txt file.
If the plugin tweaks these files, it can cause Google to ignore the content on some of your pages. This causes your rankings to sink, because Google thinks you have a bunch of pages with unknown content on them.
Your Page Images
It’s not news that readers love images on the page, but if you have videos and photos that aren’t optimised, Google won’t love your blog. Oversized images are one of the most common speed problems. Do a search for WordPress plugins to find one that compresses images for your blog. Shrink all your images down to the smallest usable size and you’ll increase your load speed phenomenally. There are many plugins suited to this task, but we recommend WP Smush.
Optimising your site is great for reader experience, but it makes Google happy, which is just as important. You’ll end up with higher rankings, which lead to even more visitors to your blog. The bottom line is that Google likes fast loading times and will happily direct traffic to such sites. The faster you make your site, the closer you’ll get to that number one spot on the search page.
Jim Stewart, CEO of BloggersSEO, is a recognised digital marketing expert. Jim is ProBlogger’s SEO subject matter expert and will share his vast SEO knowledge to equip you with the systems and skills to optimise and monetize your blog using tried and tested techniques. What Jim doesn’t know about SEO and blogging, isn’t worth knowing.
Nice post Jim Stewart. I have a question. How deleting old posts and comments will increase our rankings? Is that a good method?
Posts that are no longer relevant or drive traffic are really just adding overhead to your database. I did this recently on our own site and deleted a bunch of stuff I published 10 years ago that was no longer getting traffic just to get a slightly quicker DB.
Thanks for your advice…
I had the same issue too.
I worried that if I remove these pages from my blog, Google will penalize my blog. But learning from you, Now I’m going to throw those useless stuff out of my blog.
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Hello, W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache which one you recommend? I see both downloaded over 1 million.
I’d recommend WP Fastest Cache
Site speed is one of the most important things bloggers should start looking up to. But unfortunately, just a handful of us do.
Come on, you don’t expect a reader to sit down, arms crossed waiting for your snail speed blog to load a page. People got so busy online long ago, they’ve got so many interesting things begging for their time.
Thanks alot Jim for sharing this post.
Thanks Stewart. Do you not use tools such as PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix to create a benchmark and score?
Hi Caroline we do use pagespeed test to benchmark and find other opportunities.
Very helpful. Thanks Jim for your excellent SEO tips.
Why deleting drafts make any difference?
They are not accessed by MySQL during the queries. So why this affects the performance?
It makes for a smaller, faster DB
Deleting older posts which don’t bring any traffic won’t cause 404 & errors from Google search?
If you are going to delete old posts I would normally redirect them. Just in case a user finds them from an external link or they have bookmarked them.
Thanks a lot for sharing this. I requested for the speed problem in my last comment. I m happy to find it here.
Great article. Thanks for sharing ;)
Those are really nice points. And yes we can’t deny the fact that website loading speed is now a highly crucial thing to keep visitors glued to our sites.
Especially, given that more and more people are accessing the internet via mobile devices, we have to make sure that our pages load really fast.
Optimizing images, using a caching plugin and keeping the database clean are something I do very regularly!
A great user experience on our site ensures that our visitors can find everything they’re looking for with ease and speed. It’s up to us to create a content-rich, meaningfully designed site that keeps our customers and partners engaged and returning for more.
Speed matters, Every fraction of a second a visitor waits for our site to load, their frustration grows and that frustration is aimed at our brand.We should be conscious of placing appropriate keywords throughout every aspect of our site – our titles, content, URLs, and image names. We need to think about our keywords as search terms, how would someone looking for information on this topic search for it.
It’s important for every webmaster their website should be responsive for every browser and compatible with all devices because people can visit our website from anything maybe it can be mobile, tablet, desktop pc, or laptop so make sure of our website should be responsive with all browsers and compatible with all devices.There is probably no more basic strategy for SEO than the integration of internal links to our site it is an easy way to boost traffic to individual pages, we should make it standard to link back to our archives frequently when creating new content. Social media signals are too much important for SEO. Eventually, thanks for sharing much interesting thought with us.
With best wishes,
Awesome post Jim. Its really help me to increase the speed of my site. I have follow all of your steps. Thanks a lot.
Great post. I find it amazing that just small increases or decreases in page load speed can have such a dramatic effect on your bounce rate and potentially your profitability. I read recently that Amazon equate a 100ms move in site speed with a 1% movement in sales.
Images must be one of the biggest culprits when it comes to load speed. People love to load great images up to their websites but very few of them (the people that is) bother to optimise those images before loading.
Deleting old posts is an interesting concept, for years I believed that having lots of pages in a website improves your ranking however over the past few weeks I have read a number of articles that are saying what you are saying, ie, delete old non relevant content.
I would always check traffic to the pages you are going to delete and always redirect them.
You are right Jim. When a site takes more time to load, the user clicks on another link/links. To improve the site loading time, we should delete the old posts which are not generating the traffic.
Its really helpful. Thanks Jim for sharing this. Excellent post.
I’m a huge fan of WPSmush, I didn’t realize how much more slowly my site was running before I started using it. A really simple plugin that makes a big difference.
It’s nice and simple :) Another step you can take before uploading is to resize your images to the correct display size and not just rely on compression.
It is hard to find posts which are not getting any traffic. Do you know any method which can detect posts in bulk which are not driving traffic to blog?
I also want to remove some of my dead posts.
You can have a look in Google Search console / search analytics/ and select Pages. It will show you the posts which are generating the most search volume and for what keyphrase.
Thanks for sharing this important tips. Indeed, several things contribute to making a site rank higher.
How do I know if robots.txt file is affected or not?
Check Google Search Console and look under the Crawl section for the robots.txt tester.
Thanks for the post. When I first started my blog, I only thought site speed was about optimizing images. Clearly there’s a lot more to it.
A very fantastic and fabulous article about pure SEO tactics and strategies love it. I really appreciate your sense of humor and the way you write all in full depth about SEO topics.
Will using plugins like WPSmush result in images that look sub par on Retina (and other hi res) displays?
You can use lossless compression but to be perfectly honest I have not bench tested it because the sites we’ve used it on look fine. The documentation does mention that it’s suitable for retina display quality images.
Jim, great post about a common issue among blogs and websites in general. Personally and like @Caroline Middlebrook, I use gtmetrix.com to get a very detailed sense of where my website stands on both Pagespeed and Yslow score.
As far as the ideal combination for my website as well as my clients’ (those using WordPress), I have found that WP Super Cache in combination with Autoptimize generate the best performance. I would also recommend a CDN service (eg Cloudflare)
Google is slowly making mobile search friendliness a top priority. must follow tips and right time. Thank you very much Jim, for the tips.
It is very difficult task to improve site speed and ranking without having proper knowledge of SEO. However, page loading speed effects the bounce rate of your webpage. Avoid using flashes and inserting proper titles, content, URLs, and image names at respective places works well for improving SEO ranking and site speed.
Thank you Jim for wonderful post.
As far as the ideal combination for my website as well as my clients’ (those using WordPress), I have found that WP Super Cache in combination with Autoptimize generate the best performance.
At least I think so
Thanks for sharing this great information. Looks like I have a lot of work to do on my blog !! I don’t think my loading time is slow but a lot of the tips above I am guilty of.
Thank you guys! and Darren!
I started back in 2008 a travel blog… basically a journal with no SEO structure nor focus keywords, only a “public diary”. During the years i slowly took the direction toward Lifestyle type of content with specific keywords and more seo oriented contents. Should i hide (or delete?) from the google crawlers the old posts that doesn’t attract any traffic nor are SEO friendly nor relevant to the topics i write about today?? Thank You so much!!
I have been banging my head up against the wall trying to improve my site seed. I have the cache working, use a database cleaner, smushed the images, and minimed. I got some improvement, but not as much as I homed. I then tried things like lazy loading, moving scripts to the footer, and other techniques. Those things actually slowed the site.
Really very useful information to increase seo ranking..