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Optimize your website on-page performance

Optimize your website on-page performance

Optimizing website on-page performance is crucial as it directly impacts the user experience, search engine rankings, and overall business success. 

By focusing on regular monitoring (every week), periodic audits (every few months) and making adjustments as needed – based on changes to your website traffic patterns – you can establish a robust website. 

Here’s how to optimize the pages that will have the biggest impact on your organic traffic, and ensure that you’re not creating any blockage between your brand and your users!

How to optimize WordPress to speed up your website

No user wants to spend 5 minutes waiting for a website to load, which is why page load times are crucial to consider in optimizing performance. In fact, as your page load time goes from one second to five seconds, the probability of a bounce increases by 90%. 

However, without requiring a server upgrade or doing a complete overhaul of your site, you can easily optimize your WordPress website so that it loads faster, still looks exactly the same as before, and retains more of your users. 

Whenever your page load times are too high? We recommend following these steps:

– Website backup

The first thing you should do before updating anything is to backup your website. While this procedure isn’t likely to impact your website behavior, there is a small chance it may be incompatible with your current server settings, theme, or plugins and can cause your website to be partially or completely unavailable. 

In the event of a worst-case scenario? It’s a good idea to have a backup in place just in case!

– Check your website performance

To check your performance, use an external tool like Pingdom to test your website. All you’ll need to do is insert the page you’d like to test in the URL field, followed by the location that is closest to where your target audience is, and click “Start Test”.

Check your website performance on Pingdom

Unsure of which pages to test? Choose the most important pages in your funnel e.g. Homepage, sales page, checkout etc. 

After your test is complete, you’ll get a summary table that’ll show you your:

Performance Grade – Your Google PageSpeed score. The higher the better.

Page Size – The total size of your page, the amount of data a user would have to download if they opened your page. The lower the better.

Load time – The time (in seconds) it takes for your page to load under the best network conditions. Bear in mind that depending on how your page is set up, the result may appear slightly lower than what it really is. In this case, the lower the better here too!

Once you’ve received your test results, it’s a good idea to save the URL of your test, so you can refer to it later. 

We recommend repeating this process for each of your core pages, and save each URL as you go.

– Evaluating your website performance

Once your core pages have been tested, it’s important to clarify if there is any need to take action. If you have a low-traffic website the performance gains might not be as noticeable as if you have a high-traffic one, with a server that has a heavy load. 

To evaluate your website performance, refer back to the URL results you saved previously. Keep in mind that you will benefit the most from this guideline if your Pingdom metrics for your core pages are:

Load time > 3s. Page size > 3MB. Performance grade < C. 

You can also go ahead and compare your performance against your competitors, and some major websites. 

If you feel that your metrics are way off the ideal or from your competitors? Keep following this guide. If not – you probably already have some stellar metrics! Consider whether it’s worth your time to improve your performance here, considering you’re already doing great things in your market.

– Further auditing your website reports

While your load time, page size and performance grade are crucial metrics to keep an eye on, you can further analyze your performance with Pingdom. 

You can locate your largest content, tools and scripts that you may no longer be using, bad response codes, and more, all by scrolling down and checking the different results given on your search.

Auditing your report

– Moving forward

Once you’ve got a grasp of your website’s performance as a whole, it’s a good idea to follow a few steps to optimize this. 

The first is to decrease your homepage size by showing less blog posts upfront. 

Depending on your theme, the steps to achieve this may vary. Additionally, it may even be the case that you’re not displaying any blog posts on your homepage or your theme may not allow you to change these settings. 

But if this is a step you can action? Just pop through to “Settings” > “Reading”. Locate the field “Blog posts pages show at most” and edit its value if possible. The less blogs you show? The faster your page will load.

show less blogs upfront

The second step is to audit your WordPress plugins

This step should be performed not just to optimize, but also for security purposes too. Ideally, you’ll want to perform this audit at least once every 3 months. 

Jump over to the WordPress Admin Panel and select “Plugins”. Filter by “Active” and scroll down the list, keeping an eye out for plugins that you aren’t using any more, or that you could remove without affecting your website’s core features. Deactivate those and then check over any outdated plugins and give those an update.

Be sure to give your site pages a check to make sure everything is still working after plugin removals and updates. 

From here, you can then go ahead and install the ShortPixel Image Optimizer plugin as below.

install the ShortPizel Image Optimizer plugin

Once you’ve installed this pixel from the Plugins section, you’ll be prompted to add an API or request one. 

If you don’t have one yet? Just enter your email address, tick the box to accept the TOS and PP, and click “Request Key”. 

Once you see a “Your API key is valid” message, you can select the compression setting that you would rather see on your website. Click “Save and Go to Bulk Process” and then hit “Start Optimizing”. 

Be sure to leave your tab open while the plugin optimizes your images!

– Re-test your pages

Once you’ve made updates to optimize your performance, go ahead and re-test your page on Pingdom. You can compare the results and see just how much your page performance metrics have improved.

Optimize your XML sitemap

We’ve covered the basics on how to set up your XML Sitemap in our SEO Technical Foundations blog found here

While our section on XML sitemaps in the earlier blog already highlights most of the exclusion settings and how to keep your settings optimized, it’s good to remember how helpful this sitemap can be to your on-page performance. 

One of the biggest things you want to keep an eye on is any indexing issues. This can often happen for online stores, which usually have several pages for similar products. 

On larger websites, it’s a good idea to divide your pages into different XML sitemaps and submit them accordingly. In this case, it’s useful to separate the pages into different categories, to help you identify exactly which areas of your site the errors occur. 

Once you detect the pages causing issues, you can solve the problem or mark specific pages as “noindex” if necessary, so they don’t impact the site’s overall quality.

That covers the basics on optimizing website on-page performance to ensure that your user experience, search engine ranking, and overall business is running like clockwork. 

If you’re looking for more ways to max out your marketing? Check out our Learning Lab today for more free resources you’ll LOVE!

And don’t forget to jump into our free Ecommerce Advice group. It’s an amazing community where you can gain insight into what we’re doing behind-the-scenes at McKee Creative, plus every month a lucky member will receive a free growth checklist, tailored to your brand.

Book a free strategy call today

We look after everything from single ad copy to full campaigns, and we make sure to tailor all our approaches to your individual brand’s needs and tone. 

Book in today to have a chat with our team of experts: https://go.oncehub.com/JoanneMcKee

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