Beginners Guide to Site Speed Optimization

tortoise and the hairHi – Welcome to my beginners guide to On-Page SEO – Speed Optimization.

You have probably read a TON of articles on SEO – and have probably been super confused by it all.

THAT’S OK! – SEO Is CONFUSING!

Even people like Bill and myself – who have been doing this for years – still get ourselves confused at times!

Today I am going to walk you through some basic information one of my favourite aspects of SEO – Site Speed!

SITE SPEED

Before we discuss Site Speed i want to touch on a basic understanding of all SEO. There are two types of SEO – On-Page and Off-Page

The easiest way to remember what is  On-Page SEO and what is Off-Page SEO comes down to control.

  • You are able to control you control On-Page SEO
  • You have very little control of  your Off-Page SEO
  • Site speed falls under On-Page SEO.

What is Site Speed Anyways?

Site Speed is exactly as it sounds – When someone enters your website in their browser – it is how long it takes for your site to load.

Is Site Speed important?

YES!

Google has about 200 different ways that they use to decide where your website is ranked. Site speed is one of the most important – if not THE MOST important to focus on right away.

Here is why:

Google is impatient and likes speed.

Every day, Google’s computers are crawling bits and pieces of the internet. If your site loads really fast for them, they reward you with two things – so the faster that they are able to be on and off your site – the more often they will visit. And the higher they will rank you.

Pretty simple, really!

Before We Get Started

So – Here are a few Super-Simple ways you can decrease your Site Speed – But before we get started – you need to know where you are now.

Go to www.gtmetrix.com and enter your url and let GTMetrix do its work. Take a Screenshot so you can compare back to it later on.  GTMetri x is great because it combines Google’s Page Speed test and Yahoo’s Y Slow test on one site. It then breaks down the results and gives you some super-simple tips on how you can increase your site speed. For the more advanced topics, it even provides you links to go and learn about that topic in greater detail.

gtmetrix

1)      This is the URL that is being tested – It can be yours, a compeitors, or anyones! I used Google for this example

2)      GTMetrix uses different servers – so it only makes sense that you will get different results from different locations. You can repeat the test multiple times

3)      Page Load Time – This is the most important one. Everything that you do with Site Speed Optimization is to get this number as low as you can! www.google.com loaded in just under a second. This is where you want to be. As a quick rule of thumb, anything under 2 seconds is considered to be good

4)      The actual page of your size and all elements that it requires to load. Again, this is a number that you want to get  as low as possible.

5)      Total Requestes to your server. The  more requests your server has to respond to, the slower your page will load. You want to keep this number down as low as possible. Ideally under 15

 Hosting (Web Server)

Back when Bill and I were first getting started, actually – it was our first Money Site, we had our website hosting through GoDaddy. We figured – they were the biggest – and they charge an arm-and-a-leg for shared hosting – so they must be the best!

—-WRONG!—-

We were consistently getting 8 second load times for 600kb worth of data.  GoDaddy was actually not even responding to the query for over 3 seconds!  Bill and I monitered this over the next week or so to see if there were any imporovements. To our surprise – IT GOT WORSE!! So, we made the decision to switch to a new host.

 Who did we go with?

Word of mouth is a great way to find a host provider. So I asked around with some of the people I work closely with in the SEO communities. One host that I had never heard of kept getting mentioned. MDD Hosting.

Their prices are about average –  they are not a budget host after all! They ended up being about $2 a month cheaper than Godaddy.

I couldn’t believe it! Cheaper!?!  I was a bit hesitant to make the jump – but I was sick and tired of high loading times – so Bill and I bit the bullet and switched.

They say a picture says 1000 words – so here is a picture of what happened next.

crawlstats

What you are seeing is a screenshot of how often Google would visit our page. As soon as we switched to a faster server, and our site speed decreased – GOOGLE’s BOT’S  LOVED IT. They spent more and more time on our pages, and continued to index away.

And because Google’s Bot’s loved our site, they increased our rankings in the SERPS.

HTML or PHP

I don’t want to go too deep into detail here – I just simply want you to understand that everything that you see on the web is HTML.

PHP is a programming language that runs on a web server. When you visit a site running PHP, the server runs the code and sends your browser the HTML.

The reason that I say this is simple. If you can run a website that is only HTML, it will be MUCH FASTER – because the server does not need to process the code.

 WordPress – why it is the best CMS?

CMS (Content Management System) is basically a template for you to use and build your website on. It is written in PHP, and is the most popular website software on the internet.  In fact, as many as 25% of all websites run on WordPress.

The reason is simple. It is easy to use, secure – and it just works!

There are also tons of free resources – from fantastic Themes to some amazing Plugins to help customize your website however you like. And there are plenty of free themes and plugins available to get you started!

But the best part is if you run into any problems, there are TONS of other wordpress users and – you can usually find a solution to your problem with a quick and simple search.

Most people still consider WordPress to be a Blogging platform. It is true that its roots are in blogging – however it has grown into a full-fledged CMS capable of running just about any kind of site you throw at it! From E-Commerce to News – from Landing Pages to Squeeze and Sales pages, WordPress can handle them all with ease.

Another big advantage of WordPress is the extremely low learning curve. I know people who have never used it before and were able to build a great looking site in less than a week – with no coding skills required! It is literally web design for the masses!

Ways to make WordPress faster

Here are some great tips and tricks to get WordPress running faster.

Tip #1 – Keep your plugins and themes installed to a bare minimum. We have all been there, loading 50 different plugins that sound really cool and do one small thing on the website.  But every single plugin that you load will slow your site down. It is just one more bit of PHP that your server will have to process.

Tip #2 – Use a Caching plugin like WC3CACHE – Warning: This plugin can really mess up your site if you don’t know what you are doing. Before installing this plugin, make sure you back up your website. Before doing any major changes to your site, disable it first! Personally – this is the absolute last thing I use to get my site to speed up. Generally I don’t use it unless I absolutely have to. Lots of people swear by it. So to each their own. Just remember to backup!

Tip #3 – There are a lot of nasty bots out there that like to come and pay your site a visit. Just like the Google Bots come to your site and take a look at your content, hackers use bots to try to find a vulnerability on your site so they can take control of it.

Now, you might be saying, “Geez Jason – This is an article about Site Speed, Why are you all of the sudden talking about security? “ Here is why – one of my favourite little plugins is called SpyderSpanker.

SpyderSpanker does two things – you can set it up to block/allow only specific bots from visiting your site. So all of those hackers looking for your site see a brick wall  instead. This does not make your site un-hackable by any means – it just keeps their bots from looking. This is really handy because hackers spend their time looking for the weakest targets and will generally just move along. I strongly suggest getting the PRO version of SpyderSpanker because it allows you to block sites by IP and IP range. It also allows you to automatically update your site from a known-hacker list maintained at honeypot.org.

If you have a PBN – You MUST have SpyderSpanker installed. You really need to have the PRO Version for this. Here is why:

When Majestic and Moz crawl  your sites, they capture all of the links you have to your money sites. This means that if one of your competitors discovers one of your PBN sites, they can start to map out your money sites – or even your whole network! The best way to keep them off is with SpyderSpanker. You simple enter the IP Addresses and it does the rest.

You can get SpyderSpanker Pro Here!

There is also a developer version available as well. If you build sites for clients – it is a must-have!

Well that just about wraps up my beginners guide to Site Speed Optimization. Take care!

About the Author:   Jason McCuen is a SEO, Blogger and Internet Marketer from Melbourne Australia. Jason has been building and designing websites since before the internet had pictures! Then one day a company named after a really big number came along and said that their mission was to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Jason wanted his information to be found.  They have been dancing ever since.  You can find his website here.

Comments

  1. Bill says

    Thank you Jason for that fairly long and detailed article on why speed is so important. I will be writing next weeks article on website security and why it is so important.

  2. says

    Wow this article on “site speed” sure covered a lot of topics, not that many speed related haha. Great thing to keep in mind though, I’ll need to upgrade my servers soon!

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