Tag Archives: WordPress plugins

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8 tips for boosting the speed of your WordPress site

Chances are you’d not have waited for this page to load had it taken a second or two longer.

That’s the truth – users expect web pages to load pretty much as soon as they click on a hyperlink.

Slow loading web pages can become the leading cause of high bounce rates, low user engagement, lost traffic opportunities, and abandoned sales journeys. Here are some numbers to put things in perspective.

What’s more, ecommerce websites associate fast loading with increased revenue, and the reverse is also true.

The calling is clear: your websites need to load super quickly to sustain and nurture audience attention, avoid high bounce rate, and prevent abandoned sales.

If you have a WordPress site, there are a number of easy and effective methods you can begin using today that will significantly increase your site’s loading speed.

Use grids and floats instead of nested tables

It’s surprising how many websites still continue to use nested tables, in spite of the negative impact they have on page loading speeds. Here’s what a nested table code looks like:

<table>
<table>
………
</table>
</table>

Such coding adds additional burden on the browser, delaying complete loading of the content. Instead, use non-nested table structure as follows:

<table>...</table>
<table>...</table>

More importantly, use floats and grids to enhance loading speed. Here is a basic float example:

<h1>Basic float example</h1>
<img src="https://www.examplesite.com/files/image.jpg" alt="image anchor text">
<p> Sample text </p>
<p> Sample text </p>

Reduce the number of HTTP requests

A web page consists of several components – stylesheets, Flash components, images, scripts, and more. To deliver content rich experiences, you need to opt for entire PageSpeed Insights Optimization process.

More the number of elements per page, more the number of HTTP requests made for each of these, resulting in longer page loading time durations, which could hurt your conversions. Yahoo estimates that almost 80% of page loading time is accounted for the time spent in downloading the different elements of the page.

Use the HTTP requests checker tool to find out how many requests your page makes.

Luckily, you can reduce HTTP requests without ruining your web design. Here’s how:

  • Combine files: Use scripts and external style sheets (but don’t have more than one script and CSS file each.
  • Image maps: Use contiguous images instead of several image blocks, to reduce the number of HTTP requests.
  • CSS Sprites: Combine multiple images to a sprite, and call the sprite instead of each image. When the sprite contains images from internal pages also, the internal page load times improve, because the content is already downloaded before the user reaches there.
  • Make smaller Javascript blocks inline.
  • Convert images to Base64 coding using an encoder; because it transforms an image into code, the HTTP request is prevented.

Break comments into pages

Your most popular content posts could also be the ones loading the slowest, because of the hundreds of comments on the page. You can’t block comments, because they are conversation starters and link builders for you.

How do you manage, then? WordPress offers a very smart solution – break the comment stream into pages.

In the Dashboard, go to Settings. Under the section Other comment settings, you can tweak the settings for how many comments appear on a page, and which page is displayed beneath the article.

8 tips for boosting the speed of your WordPress site

Upgrade to the latest PHP version

Upgrading your website every time a new PHP version is launched can be a bit of a headache. But it’s worth your time and effort. The same scripts could run almost 25-30% faster on newer PHP versions; imagine the kind of website loading time improvements it can bring for you.

PHPClasses published an extensive experimental study, which highlighted that scripts ran significantly faster on PHP 7.1 as compared to previous versions.

Gzip compression

If you use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool for a quick analysis of your web pages, it’s likely you will find advice to use Gzip compression. This compression enables web servers to compress heavy website content elements.

The compression is so effective that it could reduce your page size to 30-40% of its initial size. Dolloped speeds, because of this, could increase to three or four times their previous speed.

For many webmasters, installing a Gzip compression plugin continues to be the best option. W3 Total Cache plugin, apart from all its amazing features, also offers HTTP compression.

8 tips for boosting the speed of your WordPress site

Other options are:

  • Ask your web host if it offers Gzip compression.
  • Manually enable Gzip compression via .htaccess (this guide by Kinsta explains how to do so)

Don’t let ad scripts and pop-ups spoil user experience

Chances are you run at least some form of pop-up to optimize conversions. As beneficial as these might be for your website’s monetization strategies, they may also be causing significant damage in terms of higher page loading times.

To take control and strike the perfect balance, you need to know the third-party scripts running on your website, their source, and their impact.

I recommend Pingdom’s Website Speed Test for a thorough analysis of each file and script from a webpage. The tool will tell you which script takes the most time to load.

Gauge the effectiveness of your pop-ups; do away with non-performing pop-up plugins, as they’re only slowing down your page. OptinMonster is one of the most reliable pop-up plugins, helping you optimize conversions without killing speed.

Install a caching plugin

Caching plugins can be a blessing for your website; these plugins create static copies of your webpage content, and instead of making to and fro queries to the database, use the static versions to immediately showcase the web content to users. Since you ordinarily won’t update your web pages daily, caching proves to be very useful for almost all web pages, always.

Among the many caching plugins you can use, WOT Cache Plugin enjoys a lot of trust and popularity. Among its many features are:

  • Combines CSS and Javascript files
  • Leverages the power of page caching and browser caching
  • Utilizes lazy load to massively improve the page load time
  • Helps with database optimization and removes query strings from CSS/Javascript files
  • Saves a lot of bandwidth by reducing the file size of the webpages.

Bonus tip: Seek help from your web hosting service provider

It makes sense to move to a dedicated hosting plan, so that your website gets all the resources it needs to load in a jiffy, always. Ask your web host as to what help it can provide you to improve your website speed.

Most web hosts are willing to offer their technical expertise to help you pluck the low hanging fruits in terms of your website’s speed issues. This, in turn, benefits them, as the load on their servers reduces.

Particularly, ask for their advice on optimizing mobile website speed, because the impact of slow loading is much severe on mobile devices.

Concluding remarks

Every few milliseconds of improvement in your web page’s loading speed could bring tens of percentage point of improvements in its traffic and conversion rates.

Start with these easy and practical tips, most of which will result in almost immediate improvements in page loading speed for your website.

The 10 most common WordPress SEO challenges and how to solve them

If you’re new to the business of SEO and are just figuring out how to optimize your WordPress site for search, navigating the landscape of SEO can seem like a nightmare.

You’ll have seen a thousand different articles on SEO: on-page optimization tips, off-page optimization tips, SEO basics, email marketing tips, etc. online and implemented them – only to see them fail, or worse, backfire.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. SEO can be tricky, and there is always a huge scope for overdoing or underdoing things. While I can’t fully solve this problem for you, I’ll make an attempt to round up the most commonly faced SEO challenges with WordPress so that you can look into your site and make some amends.

The important thing to understand here is that the same factors can prove to be a boon as well as a challenge when it comes to SEO. The key is to understand your own website intricately and devise plans depending upon what works best for you. Listed below are a few things that are commonly done wrong.

1. Finding the right theme

Ask yourself, how did you choose your WordPress theme while creating your website? Odds are you picked the most visually attractive theme that you thought would appeal to your customers.

Another common mistake people make is picking the most premium or commonly-used themes, as they think these are shortcuts to success. This is where you’re going wrong. Many complicated themes are filled with poor code that slows down your website. And loading time is a small but significant factor that affects your SEO rankings.

So pick a theme that works best for the nature of your website. Minimalist themes can be just as effective as complicated themes. And remember to check how often these themes are updated; you do not want an outdated theme dragging your site down.

2. The plugin game

WordPress plugins can truly be a boon for website SEO. But people tend to overdo it by adding too many of them and as a result, the website becomes heavier and slower to load. In order to improve user experience and your website ranking, it is imperative to pick and install only the right plugins for your website.

Multiple plugins also tend to occupy excessive server resources. Therefore, many managed WordPress hosts do not allow websites that consume too many resources.

3. The sitemap issue

As a basic WordPress website doesn’t give you too many features and controls, you’re bound to install SEO plugins, most of which have the option of sitemaps. You can even create multiple sitemaps by getting additional plugins to allow you further control over your site.

But here’s the problem. Many people forget to submit their sitemaps to Google Search Console. Once you fail to do that, search engines stop recognizing your sitemaps and needless to say, you won’t show up anywhere despite all your customized plugins.

4. Link stuffing gone wrong

Adding links to your site is one of the most important SEO tactics, and can do wonders for your website ranking. Many themes come with pre-set links to help you out. But there are two ways this can go wrong:

  • Over stuffing – Nothing overdone is attractive, and adding links is no exception. Adding too many links can distract your user and also turn them off your site. A good rule of thumb to go by is using up to 20 links. This way you’re well within your bounds.
  • Stuffing nonsense – The relevance of the content you feed to your customers is more important than you think. Offer original and relevant content that is useful to your customers so that they spend more time on your site, thus improving your rankings.

5. Schema gone wrong

Schema markup is the primary code that allows Google (and other search engines) to understand what your website is about. You showcase your Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) so that Google can run it through its algorithms and display your site if it has local relevance. So this is the single most important thing that helps Google understand who you are and what kind of services you provide.

This obviously improves your rankings and visibility. But if you get this wrong, it could work against you, as it confuses Google.

The best way out of this challenge is to gain a deep understanding of how Schema works. Various online resources can help you learn that. For starters, you can check-out the ‘Organization of Schema’ page to look for the list of most common types of schema markup and the ‘Full Hierarchy’ page for the schema types that you will need.

6. Underestimating alt text for images

People often focus all their attention on optimizing text content and miss out visual content, i.e. images. It’s a big blunder. Without fail, make the time to give your images proper names and descriptions. This will go a long way in improving your site’s functionality, accessibility and ranking.

So if you’ve overlooked this, rename all your images now and add proper descriptions. Another shortcut to do this is using the SEO Friendly Images WordPress Plugin.

7. Wrongly done permalinks

Despite the huge amount of information available on permalinks over the internet, it is one of the most difficult things to get right. And your website takes a really big hit by doing this wrong.

So here’s an over-simplified tip for you. The ideal permalink will allow you to include two very basic yet important things: post name and category. It should look something like this: “/%category%/%postname%/“.

What this does is allows search engines as well as your site visitors to clearly understand what your website is about.

8. Ignoring H1 tags

As your webpage grows, you might end up having a lot more duplicate content than is advisable. Even if this doesn’t affect you initially, it will in the long run.

With growing popularity and content, you might feel you have no option but to use the same H1 tags for multiple pages. But this makes search engines alert and eventually averse to your site. So as far as possible, get precise and innovative and provide only unique content for your site.

And don’t even think of employing the age-old technique of overusing keywords in your meta tags. This might have worked in the past, but Google is very smart and now identifies it.

9. The sin of using duplicate content

It’s not an exaggeration when I say it’s a sin to use duplicate content. The problem is that you might be doing this without even knowing that you are.

The most common mistake in this department is over-categorizing and over-tagging: Google identifies content with multiple common tags and flags them as duplicate content. As a rule, a post should typically be in no more than one or two categories, and tagging should be limited only to the most relevant topics covered in the post.

Furthermore, if you find no obvious way in which you can tag a specific post, don’t tag it. Not every post needs tagging.

However, it is easy to tackle this. WordPress offers plugins like All-In-One-SEO or SEO Plugin Yoast to avoid this error. These plugins add ‘No Follow’ tags to pages that help search engines categorize pages appropriately.

10. Forgetting internal links and related posts

Linking one article to other relevant content across your site increases the average time spent by a user on your website, and also acts as a search engine ranking signal. However, adding unrelated links or poor-quality content will do the opposite and put them off.

If you do not wish to use too many internal links, another smart way to go about it is by adding related posts. Get a plugin to pick the right kind of posts to display as related posts to keep your relevance and integrity intact. The best way to do this is getting the right balance between internal links and related posts.

So read this article through again and thoroughly examine your SEO practices to identify how many of these aforementioned things are you getting wrong, and how many you are doing right.

Another factor that significantly affects your user experience is your host. A slow host will increase your loading time and therefore affect users. Keep this in mind while picking your web hosting company.

Your goal should always be to give your visitors rich quality and relevant content, delivered in the right manner and at the right speed. That is the only true way to keep your customers happy and run a thriving website.

12 Amazing Email Marketing WordPress Plugins by @albertcostill

Believe it or, you can implement an email marketing campaign relatively cheap, and most of the time for free, by using the following 12 WordPress plugins.

The post 12 Amazing Email Marketing WordPress Plugins by @albertcostill appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

10 Awesome #WordPress Plugins for Podcasters by @albertcostill

Give your podcast a little extra umph with these ten WordPress plugins.

The post 10 Awesome #WordPress Plugins for Podcasters by @albertcostill appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Supercharge #SEO With These 6 WordPress Plugins by @SearchHighway

WordPress is by far the most popular CMS today. Here are some of Hin Lai’s favorite WordPress plugins that can help supercharge your SEO.

The post Supercharge #SEO With These 6 WordPress Plugins by @SearchHighway appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

12 WordPress Plugins You Should Install on Your Blog by @sujanpatel

Is your blog looking a bit run down? Maybe it isn’t functioning as well as you’d like? Your blog represents your company’s headquarters online, so if it is not performing up to your expectations, it is time to upgrade it with some simple plugins. Any of the following tools will help spruce up your site and simplify your marketing activities: Click to Tweet Obviously, you want your customers to share your blog content – that’s a big part of the reason you have a blog in the first place, right? With the Click to Tweet plugin, you can add simple […]

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7 of The Best Content Marketing Tools to Use in 2015 by @sujanpatel

Content marketing was big in 2014. Last year, more businesses began regularly investing time and money into content marketing than ever before. That’s not much of a surprise when you consider the following facts found in a recent writtent.com blog post: Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about three times as many leads. (Source) 78% of CMOs believe custom content is the future of marketing. (Source) Website conversion rate is nearly 6 times higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters (2.9% vs 0.5%). (Source) If you haven’t yet taken the time to invest in developing and […]

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6 Free Plugins to Speed Up Your WordPress Site by @devesh

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. Search Rankings 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 […]

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Thoughts on 404 Not Found Error Pages by @michielheijmans

Have you ever wondered why you should have that 404 Not Found page? What’s the use? The page is gone or broken and you don’t want people to end up there, so why not just redirect that page to the homepage of your website? They even made WordPress plugins that will help you do this, so why not, right? Wrong. What you’re basically doing is putting people on a train they did not choose themselves. If I want to go to Paris, why send me to London instead? If a visitor wants to find a certain page on your website, […]

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Don’t Hit That Buy Button: 6 Red Flags in WordPress Themes by @slobodanmanic

When you activate a plugin that’s not compatible with your WordPress setup, it’s likely to be immediately apparent. If something’s not right, odds are your site will be broken in some way, right away. Themes are a bit more complex. If you install a theme and instantly discover it’s bad, consider yourself lucky. Because what a non standard-compliant theme can do to your site over time can be much more damaging than just a few minutes of downtime. But with so many themes available online, how can you ensure the one you’re about to purchase is safe and secure? Here’s a short checklist of […]

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