Is your blog slow to load? Blog speed is more important than you may realize.
According to Sherice Jacob of Kissmetrics, visitors will abandon a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. On top of that, 79 percent say they will not return if the website loaded slowly.
This means your blog speed is critical to your blog’s success. Conversion, engagement, and SEO are all affected by the speed of your blog, so it is worth paying very close attention to.
What is Slowing Down Your Blog?
A number of factors are known to slow your blog down. A slow web host, unnecessary files, a poorly coded WordPress theme, and images are the most common reasons for blog speed.
While you can’t view many of these while you when you’re on your website, they still slow down the response time of your blog.
The only way to know the true cause of your slow blog speed is to test its load times. Abby Lawson of Just a Girl and Her Blog suggests using a speed test tool for websites to narrow down the causes of slow load times.
This is an excellent way to identify ways you can make a difference in your blog’s load speeds. Websites, such as GT Metrix, are great tools for testing the speed of your website.
Testing Your Website
Bear in mind that the distance of the server will affect load speeds. Regardless of which testing site you use, select the server that is closest to your location for best results. In the following examples I used GT Metrix.
When you go to the website, enter your web address in the bar. In a few moments, you will receive your test results. The screenshot below are the actionable items that showed up when I review my website. The higher the item, the more important it is to fix.
Your SEO can suffer as a result of poor blog speed. When visitors click on your blog and don’t stay or engage, your SEO scores will drop. This will affect search engine rankings, reduce pageviews, and decrease your profits.
If you need more information about SEO, please read my SEO post from a few weeks ago.
The results list from your website test is a great place to start working on improving blog speed. If you don’t understand how to fix all of these, that’s okay. Just work on the ones that you do understand.
Small changes, such as choosing a better coded theme or using smaller images can make a huge impact.
How You Can Improve Your Blog Speed
Images are a major problem for many websites, including mine. Allyssa Barnes makes a great point on her blog when she recommends not using files larger than you need on your website.
My featured images weren’t the correct size for my theme. WordPress would scale them, and as a result, this was slowing down my site. Crazy, right?
My mistake: I had used WordPress to resize them instead of resizing the image before uploading it. This resulted in that ugly “F” score under “serve scaled images.”
In order to view the items that are causing the problem, click the drop-down-arrow to the left of the issue. You will see something similar to the screenshot below. Note: I blocked out everything, except the image file for clarity.
The bottom image is attributed to my Mailer Lite mail signup forms, so I can’t change it. The first four are images I created and uploaded by myself. This means that I can change them. Yay!
Resizing Your Images
In my case, the first four images were created prior to my knowing the appropriate image size for my theme. If you need to know how to find this, check out my blog post on blog graphics. I go into more detail on this topic in that post.
In order to correct the problem, I used Canva to create the appropriate custom-sized images and replaced the old ones.
You can also use photo editing software, including Microsoft Paint or Adobe Photoshop, to “Resize” your images to the recommended sizes before you upload them to your website.
This is a super easy process that garners great results. If that is not an option for you, use a picture resizing website.
As you can see in the screenshot above, changing these four images made a huge difference in my score for “serve scaled images.” When I performed the speed test again, my score went from a 0 to 79. See, small changes can make a huge difference.
Your Web Host
If your web host is your problem, you can take this issue up with them. I am using a shared server, which is slower than a dedicated server. This saves money, but it does sacrifice a little speed.
As my audience grows, I can upgrade to a dedicated server. This is a choice on my part. If you are selling items on your website, it may also be a wise move for you.
Some web hosts are simply poor quality. I have been using HostGator for a while now and I haven’t had any issues with them. The good news is, with their “Baby Plan”, I can have multiple websites for the same monthly price.
I use ColorMag by ThemeGrill (Update: I now use Masonic by ThemeGrill). It is a free theme that I really like. It offers a lot of options to customize your website without spending a dime. While it is great for a free theme, I admit that it isn’t the best. By far, that award goes to themes using the Genesis framework.
Once you change to a new theme, run the test again to check out the change. Since writing this post, I switched themes and the new one seems to run much faster than the previous one. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
One of the things I like about the ThemeGrill themes is that I can edit the CSS code for my site from WordPress. This allows me to change colors, fonts, and every other aspect of the design. If you understand code, this is a huge plus.
Check Your Changes
After making any changes, run a new speed test. You may be surprised at the huge difference a tiny change (like resizing an image) can make for your blog. If you have any other suggestions on how to improve blog speed, let others know in the comments below.
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Thank you so much for reading!