The One Thing Top Gun’s Maverick Knows About Blogging That You Don’t

10 Tips Every WordPress Blogger Needs

Most bloggers believe that if they produce remarkable content on a regular basis their blog will achieve their goals. The reality is that this isn’t the full picture.

While a great post that grab your readers’ attention is a critical element, by itself, it’s not enough to propel your blog to be as successful as it can be. 

Tweet ThisAs Maverick said in Top Gun, “I feel the need…the need for speed.”  The same holds true for your blog.

Blog speed is a critical element of insuring your blog gets read in terms of bounces, customer experience and search engine rankings. Before you tell me your incredible content means you don’t need to worry about the technical aspect of your blog, think again. Understand that mere milliseconds cause prospective readers to abandon your blog before it’s even loaded. As a result blog speed helps your search rankings and customer conversions. (Here’s Google’s opinion.)

While many of these tips may seem too technical for you, it’s important to read through them to understand the tradeoffs involved in how you set up your blog. Prospective readers’ first decisions about reading your content are more influenced by your blog design and speed. (Don’t take my word for it, here’s research on design.)

To make your WordPress blog faster, here are ten tips. Willie Jackson, Nicholas Reese and David Vogelpohl  presented them at Affiliate Summit East. (BTW, I’m sending this list to my webmaster!)

  1. Measure blog speed. Your pages should load in under two seconds and at most three seconds. Vogelpohl recommended using WebPageTest.org to assess your blog’s speed and Jackson suggested P3 Plugin Performance Profiler to see what’s eating up your performance. After checking the speed, determine which elements slow your page down. Each flagged item may require different corrective actions but the process is additive.
  2. Select your blog host with care. Ideally, your host should be dedicated or VPS (a Virtual Private Server) with a strong SLA (service level agreement) and resource guarantee. As an alternative, select a host who is specifically dedicated to managing WordPress since they understand WordPress issues. Jackson pointed out that one issue with shared hosting is that your website is at the mercy of other sites’ problems. Specifically, Jackson pointed out that denial of service attacks on another site could cause yours to go dark.
  3. Sign up for CDN (Content Distribution Network). In English, this means that your blog will have servers located all over world that store the static sections of your page (the ones that don’t change very frequently). As a result, your content is distributed closer to your visitors. This reduces server load, time to load and the amount down loaded from your host server.
  4. Check W3C Compliance. Enter your blog URL and this software will check each element. Your goal is have no errors. Ask your technical person to fix each error.
  5. Reduce Javascript. The objective is to remove excess tracking scripts from your blog. Here’s where you have to tradeoff between speed and consumer experience. Therefore consider all of your dynamic elements. Tech alert: Where possible, place scripts below the </body> element in HTML.
  6. Optimize images. Since images are highly effective content, it’s critical to ensure that they are optimized. Size your images to fit the space on your blog. Don’t just transfer photos from your phone or digital camera where images are large and slow to load. Remove metadata and where possible use a JPG in place of PNG. Vogelpohl suggests using WP Smush.it and Jackson recommends Image Optim (but it’s only for Macs.) and CW Image OptimizerTech alert: Also try using CSS sprites for images to reduce HTTP requests. Tools include Spriteme.org and Css-tricks.com/css-sprites
  7. Reduce plugins. While plug-ins are great for solving problems, they take time to load, hinder performance and could add security vulnerabilities. Jackson recommends using only one SEO plug-in! His choice is WordPress SEO. Be careful with social media plug-ins that keep hitting social media servers. This is why I removed my tweets from my blog.
  8. Optimize post lists, specifically on your homepage. To this end, don’t show the full post. Remove social media buttons because they take time to get information from the platform. Consider how important the social proof is to your readers. Minimize image use.
  9. Create a mobile version of your blog. If you don’t believe that your readers are on mobile devices, both smartphones and tablets, check your analytics. Understand how users interact with your content on a mobile device and how to optimize that experience. Use mobile optimized CSS (responsive design) and consider different keyboards. While Vogelpohl recommended programming your mobile version by hand, here are some mobile plug-ins: WPTouchpro, WordPress Mobile Pack, WPTap and MobilePress.
  10. Keep a daily backup of your blog. In addition to being a good practice in case you have a technical problem, having a full backup allows you to move your site at any time.

Maverick said it best! “I feel the need…the need for speed!” How fast your blog loads influences whether your readers stay or go. This in turn has an impact on your customer experience, bounce rates and search rankings. While some of the concepts listed here are a bit geeky, the idea is optimize your blog to be a more efficient resource for your users.

What other suggestions would you make to improve your blog’s speed?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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Photo credit: Amazon

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  • http://twitter.com/ianmcleary Ian Cleary

    Hi Heidi, I’ve had good success with W3 Total Cache. Great for optimizing performance of your blog. Ian

  • Liran Amitai

    Hi Heidi, thanks for the great summery

  • http://twitter.com/JDEbberly J D Ebberly

    Bloggers looking to improve the loading time of their blogs should try Synthesis.

  • DebbyBruck

    Dear Heidi – An incredibly rich and worthwhile read, full of advice to improve readership based upon speed. I’m going to save this blog for reference. Thanks for tip of jpg over png images. Blessings, Debby

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Debby –

      Glad you found the content useful.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  • Anthony Smith

    Thanks for the great info Heidi!