Site speed plays a very important role in online business. It can increase or decrease the revenue of your online business, depending on how much time your site takes to load. There is a shocking relation between site speed and conversation rate, which is particularly true for e-commerce sites.
There are a dozen of reasons to improve the site speed, but the two most important ones are search rankings and user experience.
When Google first announced site speed in web search rankings, it played a miniscule part. But overtime it has become one of the main development factors Google takes into account for ranking websites.
While page speed isn’t the only factor Google takes into account, pages that load faster and follow Google’s best practices for performance tend to rank better in Google.
Google also offers a wide range of tools and resources to help developers build faster websites via Make the Web Faster.
KISSMetrics reported that 47 percent of users expect a page to load within two seconds. So, if your site takes more than two seconds to load, there is a good chance users will navigate away.
The Internet is filled with case studies, reports, and surveys on how page speed impacts site rankings and user engagement. People simply don’t want to wait. With that in mind, you should invest some time in improving the site speed – just like you would with any other part of your business.
In this article I want to share six free WordPress plugins that will help you increase your site’s traffic, user engagement, and revenue. Spending just a few minutes and installing these plugins can potentially have a big impact on the speed of your website.
If you take your site seriously, you might want clean up your database. By default, WordPress stores every post, page, and comment including post revisions, trash data, and information from various plugins. This may not sound like a huge speed booster, but you can easily make substantial speed improvements by optimizing your database.
I rely on WP Optimize plugin for the task. It is great for beginner and intermediate users, because it does not require you to go to PHPmyAdmin or do any technical stuff. You can do everything from your WordPress dashboard.
WP Optimize helps you de-clutter your database by removing stale post revisions, spam comments, trashed items, and removal of transient options. It can also tell you your current database size and gives you an idea on how much space you can save with WP Optimize.
Note: If you are using this plugin for the first time, make sure to back up your database. It is always the best practice to have a backup, just in case anything goes sideways. Though, if you are hosted on a managed WordPress hosting like SEJ, then you can rely on staging feature to restore the previous version.
It has proven that having social media buttons on your site increases the chances of getting your blog posts shared by 50%. Though, the opposite seems to work for e-commerce websites.
But most social media plugins load too many scripts and are amongst the slowest to load. Digg Digg plugin fixes this problem as it comes with lazy loading option, meaning your site visitors will be shown a fake button until a visitor hovers over the buttons for sharing. You can also add buttons at the top or bottom of your page.
W3 Total Cache
When it comes to improving the site speed, there are a lot of things that you can do. However, installing a cache plugin will have the biggest impact on your site.
The W3 Total Cache plugin is one of the most popular caching plugins available for WordPress. There is a good chance you will be able to increase your site performance by 10 times, as claimed by its plugin developers.
The plugin is not easy to configure, but if you have a basic knowledge of WordPress, it will only take five minutes to set up. Additionally, you can integrate it with a CDN service like MaxCDN, which works really well with W3TC plugin.
Today, blogging is not just about high quality content, but is also about visual graphics (infographics, images, and slides). Take a look at any of the SEJ post and you will see every blog post has at least two images.
High quality content with visual graphics is essential to set your site apart from the rest, but you need to ensure the images are properly compressed and uses appropriate format. There are dozens of plugin available (even a desktop based application like Shrink-O-Matric) to help you get the better images, but one plugin that stood above from the rest is WP Smush.it.
The plugin works by reducing image file sizes and improving performance using the Smush.it API within WordPress. It also strips the metadata from JPEGs, and removes unused colors from indexed images.
If you don’t want to use a plugin, you can use a premium service like Kraken.io.
There are hundreds of thousands of WordPress plugins, most of them are useful, and will help you with one thing or another. If you want to add a new functionality, you can usually find a plugin. But plugins can also be responsible for increasing your site speed. And you never know which plugin is causing the trouble. Fortunately, there is a plugin for that called P3 Profiler.
P3 Profiler scans the website to find out which plugins are causing a slow performance. It narrow downs the impact your plugins are having on your site’s load time.
Once you have figured out which plugins are causing are slowing down your website, you can replace them or remove them entirely.
BJ Lazy Load
Another great plugin to optimize the post images is BJ Lazy Load.
It allows you to lazy load post images, thumbnails, Gravatar images, and content iFrames, and replaces it with a placeholder. The images are only loaded as they are about to become visible in a user’s browser. You can also lazy load other images and iFrames in your theme by using a simple function.
Overall, the site speed is just one of the 200 factors Google takes into account when ranking a website. So, make sure to also invest some time on other aspects of your business.
By the way, don’t forget to test your site speed before and after installing these plugins to see how effective they really are. You can use Pingdom or GTMetrix, which are great tools for testing site speed.
Featured Image: Vladimir Badaev via Shutterstock
Full Disclosure: I don’t have any relationship with plugins listed in this article.