Site speed is one of the factors that determine whether you get a good ranking in Google. While site speed was historically not the most important ranking factor, its importance seems to be growing. A slow website will also result in a slower crawling rate, so Google indexes pages on your site at a slower rate. New posts will take longer to show up in the search results. Making your website faster can therefore lead to getting organic traffic for new posts faster and to better rankings.
Moreover, a fast website will give a much better User Experience than a slow one. Research time and again shows that people don’t buy as much from slower sites and don’t read as much on slower sites. That in itself should be enough reason to make sure the speed of your blog is as good as can be.
Site speed tools
In our website reviews we always check the site speed of a website. Obviously, site speed is different when checking it from different locations. This is just one reason why speed tools do not always provide the same results. That’s why we use all these tools in our site reviews (and do not rely on just one):
Google Page Speed Insights splits mobile and desktop, Pingdom Tools allows for multiple locations and Yslow has segmented the checks nicely. WebPageTest has a few main checks it grades nicely. We would recommend you use all of these tools to check your site speed. Combined they give the most complete overview of the site speed of your site.
If you want to test your site speed, you can enter url of your website in these tests. They review the speed of this site and give a list of options on how to improve upon your site speed. Both Google and YSlow have reasonably good, though slightly techy, explanations on the various aspects that you can improve.The other tools show somewhat less explanation and are a bit harder to interpret.
Plugins for site speed
Installing a caching plugin could really speed up your site, if your hosting doesn’t already provide for caching. WP Super Cache does what it says on the tin: it caches your site. It does that well, without too many bells and whistles. WP Rocket is better, they offer a solution to speed up your site without much hassle and without the risks of breaking things. WP Rocket is a paid plugin though, and WP Super Cache is free.
Historically we’ve also recommended W3 Total Cache. While it is the Swiss army knife of speed optimization in many ways, it’s the kind of knife we don’t trust many people with. We’ve seen too many people slow their sites down instead of speed them up with it, so we’ve stopped recommending it.
Next to installing a caching plugin, you can do several other things to speed up your site. Choosing a different hosting party, using a CDN and / or minifying your images could do wonders for your site speed. We’ll come back to you in a few weeks with a post about site speed solutions and talk you through the most important ones.