A little while back I started a series titled "Starting a Blog." I need to pull together a few pieces, but you can get started with the important Step 1. I've written a couple more steps, but today I wanted to cover something that can be done almost any time. (That's why I went with Step [X] in the title.)
Generally, successful blogs focus on writing great content and networking with other bloggers to get it viewed.
However one of the most overlooked areas is making your blog fast. This is important because people will leave if the blog takes too long to load. Google also favors websites that load quickly... and Google can be one of the best gateway to getting more readers.
1&1 Hosting has a great guide to making your WordPress blog fast.
I like to say, "You have to know where you before you can get to where you are going." The 1&1 guide writes about a few tools to measure the performance of your website. I actually prefer one tool they didn't mention... Pingdom's Website Speed Test. They cover one tool that I haven't looked at, P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler).
So once you know how fast or how slow your blog is, the guide covers the basics giving tools for each step. Specifically:
- Shrink Image Size - They say a picture is worth a thousand words. However, it can take a lot longer to download an image than to display a thousand words. There are ways to make images look the same on a website at a fraction of the size. This might be the best thing you can do to speed up your blog
- Caching - WordPress builds a page from a lot of different places. This assembly takes some time which adds up if you have a lot of visitors. You can "cache" pages which simply amounts to saving the assembled page for the next user. It's the difference between spending two hours building Ikea furniture and having someone deliver you an already assembled piece.
- Clean the Database - Over time WordPress databases get "junked up" with data. The guide gives some good tools for cleaning things up.
- Eliminate Plugins - The more plugins your WordPress site has, the longer it typically takes to build pages. To use my Ikea analogy above, it is like building a piece of furniture with 72 pieces vs. building one with 20 pieces. All things being equal, the 20 piece model is going to be faster to build.
What's not covered in the 1&1 guide? They don't mention using a Content Distribution Network (CDN) or using CSS Sprites (which is fairly complicated). Also, sometimes just reviewing your basic design can help you eliminate elements that slow things down.
Are you a blogger with a website? How do you optimize it for speed? Let me know in the comments.
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