Still have a website that’s not up to speed in 2018? Here are some tips to give you a much-needed boost to stay current, and ultimately give you higher search rankings:
- Fewer plugins
- WordPress themes
- Who is hosting your site?
- Minimize Code
- Enable browser caching
- Optimize images
- Site speed tests
Subscribe to CATMEDIA's blog for more tips on keeping your website up to date!The reason I put WordPress in its own category is because this is one of, if not the most, reputable content management systems out there. So, let’s focus first on ways to improve your website through WordPress.
WordPress has an abundance of plugins for almost any function. The problem is, poorly written plugins can slow down sites. The number of plugins isn’t as important as the quality of them, but you should still be aware that too many plugins can also hurt your site’s speed. Try using fewer plugins, and focus on the ones that are absolutely essential to the proper function of your site. Use lightweight plugins whenever applicable, and don’t forget to delete the ones you don’t use. For example, if you have an online store, you will definitely need a shopping cart plugin.
The type of theme you use in WordPress matters with search rankings. Because the less bloated your theme is, the faster your site will load, and the better your search rankings will be. There are many themes out there that offer a balance between aesthetics and speed. A few things to look for when selecting the best theme are smaller theme file sizes, which means choosing themes without too many of the bells and whistles such as widgets, themes created by optimized frameworks, and HTML. Themes will need to be updated from time to time to keep things secure, reliable, and free of bugs.
Who is Hosting Your Site?
Let’s shift our focus away from WordPress and discuss improving SEO in general. Who is hosting your site can make a difference with search rankings. Choosing a good, reputable hosting provider that can deal with high web traffic and issues that are related to speed will go a long way in SEO improvement. When searching for the right hosting provider, it is very tempting to go for the cheapest or most economical route. Keep in mind though; we are trying to improve search rankings, which in turn gives you more exposure, so choose wisely. There are different types of hosting providers to consider. Some offer shared hosting, which is certainly economical, but having to share hardware such as servers and CPUs will slow down your site. Here is a list of other common types of hosting providers:
- Dedicated web server
- Colocation web hosting
- WordPress hosting
I’ll briefly go over these hosting providers. Unlike shared hosting, dedicated web server hosting gives you the advantage of having your own server resources without having to share with other sites. Your site speed will be much faster, but higher in cost. Colocation web hosting means you are leasing space from a remote location, such as a data center. Although you are responsible for your own server hardware and technical support, the hosting provider takes care of the rest such as power, cooling, etc. Finally, WordPress hosting, which is considered middle ground in terms of cost, between dedicated hosting and shared hosting, is great for site owners who already have WordPress built sites.
Enable Browser Caching
Now, we’ll go over what browser caching is and how it can help with SEO. When a user visits a site, resource files like CSS need to be uploaded from the webserver to the local computer. This is the reason it takes a little longer for a site to load the first time it is visited. In order for a local computer to store those resource files for future use, a web administrator must activate browser caching on the web server end. Enabling browser caching helps the page load faster on the end user side because the resource files necessary to upload the page are already stored on the local machine.
The time it takes to load pictures plays a big factor on site speed. The goal is to balance picture quality and have a reasonable load time. High-resolution images should be condensed for this reason. Since a lot of traffic is mobile nowadays, you can sacrifice a little of the image quality in return for a smaller file size and faster loading speed. Remember to include alt tags or captions to go along with your images because this is what search engine bots “see” when they crawl through your site. These bots recognize text and not actual images.
Site Speed Tests
Now that we have some major tips on optimizing SEO, we can take the time to look at a few options to test your website with some site speed tests. The most popular one to date is PageSpeed Insights. Developed by Google, PageSpeed Insights gives you feedback on how your site can be improved once a test is run. Another useful site speed test is dotcom-tools by Dotcom-Monitor. It runs real-world tests on different browsers such as Firefox and Internet Explorer. Some site speed tests such as Pingdom, allow you to choose from five different locations around the world to test your sites speed. The feedback you get includes HTTP response times and performance grade insights.
We’ve gone over several ways to improve your site speeds, and even ways to test your site once adjustments have been made. One thing we haven’t gone over is security, which is more important now than ever, but will go into that in more detail next time. If you want to attract more visitors, improve your SEO by following the steps mentioned today, and you should see good results in the near future.
CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).