Looking at the evolution of search engine optimization (SEO), it is obvious that these days SEO comes down to one thing, user experience (UX). Google is obsessed with UX. Just take a look at all of their algorithm updates over the last five years. They have all been about enhancing user experience in one way of the other.
One of the main factors that has now become a big issue is the page loading speed. The continued emphasis on Accelerated Mobile Pages by Google and Instant Articles by Facebook is a clear indicator of how important speed has become.
Speed has become an important user experience issue because Internet audiences have grown extremely impatient. Fast Internet speeds are mainly to blame. People have become accustomed to pages that load lighting fast so when they encounter a slow page, they simply hit the back button and look for an alternative site for the same information.
So, I will take you through 8 ways you can quickly improve the page loading speed of your WordPress site significantly and get a nice bump in search engine rankings.
1. Use browser caching
This is one of the simplest ways to improve page loading speed. The idea is to get static pages of your site cached by browsers so that each time a user types in your site’s URL, the browser loads a local copy instead of fetching a new copy from the server. The effect of this is lighting fast loading. To implement this on WordPress, all it takes is a simple caching plugin.
2. Get started with accelerated mobile pages (AMP)
Accelerated mobile pages are pages designed with the AMP HTML Specification, a subset of HTML. Accelerated mobile pages are cached in Google’s AMP cache. The result is web pages that load fast and look good on mobile devices, even over slow networks. Again, implementing this is easy on WordPress because you only need to install an AMP plugin.
3. Use Facebook’s Instant Articles Feature
If your site has a lot of traffic from Facebook, you should also leverage Facebook’s instant articles feature. Instant articles load up to ten times faster on mobile devices than normal articles. This makes your site super fast. To get started with Instant Articles on WordPress, simply install the Instant Articles WordPress plugin.
4. Work on images
Large images can slow down your WordPress site. While it is always good to have great looking images on your site, you must get an even balance between site speed and image quality. There are several free tools that can help you do this such as Gimp. WordPress also has a number of plugins that optimize images.
5. Minify Code
Some WordPress themes have bloated code. In many cases, there is too much white space. Developers create space in code during development to make it easier on the eyes. However, once the theme is ready, this white space should be gotten rid of. White space is processed in the same way as any other character so it actually hogs system resources. WordPress has a number of free plugins that quickly minify HTML, CSS and JS.
6. Avoid site errors
Constant bad request and 404 errors can have a devastating SEO impact on your site. To make sure you are always in the know about your site’s health, check Google’s Webmaster Tools every day for any errors. Fix any problems as soon as they are identified.
7. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A CDN is a network of distributed servers around the world. It stores copies of your site’s static pages and images and, loads them when requested by a browser. Thus, for example, if you had your site on a CDN in Germany, a browser located in Germany would load the site faster than it were to fetch it from a server in the US.
8. Simple is brilliant
Finally, avoid using too many plugins on your WordPress site. The more plugins you install the slower your site becomes. Save for the plugins I have mentioned above, think twice before installing any other plugins, you may not really need them.
As Google continues its unrelenting drive to improve user experience, you have no choice but to pay more attention to page speed than ever before. Pretty soon, any site that hasn’t implemented standards like AMP will take a hit in Google rankings. So, read t