How to Increase the Loading Speed of a Blog

Bloggers ask me this question frequently- ‘How to increase loading speed of my blog?’ To be honest, I too faced this problem. In the beginning, blogs maintained by me loaded slowly. Slowly, I realized my mistakes and found the factors responsible for slow loading speed. With some research and experiments, I even found some smart methods to dramatically increase page loading speed and decrease loading time of my blogs. Here, I will share all my methods and tips to boost your blog’s performance.

How to Increase the Loading Speed of a Blog

Why a blog’s page load speed and time are important factors affecting its success?

I want to ask you a question. Do you love surfing and exploring slow loading websites and blogs? Most of us don’t. We get bored by such sites. It seems like we are losing patience with each passing day. Now, we barely care to wait for a site to load up. If a visitor notices that a blog is taking more than 10-15 seconds to load, he/she might leave it! If you want your blog to be user friendly, you should not ignore loading speed.

Wait, it is not just about user friendliness. Page speed also influences your blog’s search result rankings! Yes, you read it right; Google wants the web to be faster. Page speed is a crucial factor among the factors affecting the position of a blog in Google’s search results.

Now you have two good reasons to invest some time towards making your blog faster! I guarantee that the time you’ll invest is worth the results that you’ll get.

First of all, analyze the loading speed, time and other factors using these free tools :

Before you start enhancing the performance of your blog, analyze it. This will help you find out issues and problems responsible for huge loading time that your blog takes. Lots of free tools are available to analyze the loading speed and other properties of a blog. I recommend the following tools :

# Google Page Speed Insights

# GT Metrix

# Page Speed test by Pingdom

All three tools mentioned above are free. After analyzing your blog using them, you’ll get detailed insights about the factors slowing your blog. This will help you understand what your problems are. Here, you’ll find solutions for almost all types of problems.

How to Increase the Loading Speed of a Blog

How to increase page loading speed and reduce loading speed of a blog

1 Optimize images

I agree that images are an integral part of a blog. A blogger should use appropriate images on each blog post. But optimizing those images are as important as using them!

Large images take long time to load. They may even prevent other scripts from loading before they completely load themselves. All this results in huge loading time!

The solution is to reduce the size of the image without compromising its quality. For this, you may use simple tools like Microsoft Office Picture Manager, Picasa etc.

If you are a WordPress user, I recommend a great plugin called WP Smush.it to optimize images. This plugin has been developed by Yahoo. All you need to do is install this plugin and activate it. The plugin has got options to optimize selected images or bulk optimization. It automatically compresses all images in your library without reducing their quality.

2 Eliminate render blocking JavaScript and CSS

If you have used Google Page Speed tool, you might be aware of this problem. What is a render blocking JavaScript/CSS? They are scripts that are downloaded first. They prevent other parts of your blog from loading, unless they load themselves completely!

Usually, JavaScript and CSS are heavy scripts. They take their own sweet time to load. If they stop other resources from showing up before they load themselves, your blog will take too much time to load! Why does such JavaScript and CSS files gets downloaded first? It is because they are present in the ‘head’ section of a blog.

There are various methods to solve this problem. You may solve it by inserting lines of codes. But I recommend using some plugins to solve it. WP Minify is one such plugin. It has options to minify and compress JavaScript and CSS files. It collects and compresses entire CSS and JavaScript files and turns it into a single, compressed file.

Another method is to use JS Delivr plugin. It is basically a CDN (Content Delivery Network) for hosting JavaScript and CSS files. Using this plugin, you can enable CSS and JavaScript files to load asynchronously. Asynchronous loading is better because it doesn’t affect the downloading of other components/scripts of your blog!

3 Use a Caching Plugin

A blog must definitely have a caching plugin installed on it. What does a caching plugin do? When a visitor visits your blog, his/her browser requests to download various components of your blog. This is time consuming, because, a number of contents (like images, scripts etc) have to be downloaded by the browser. Not only is it time consuming, but it also puts strain on the servers hosting your blog.

This is when caching plugins come handy. These plugins generate a static cache (more like a copy) of your blog and stores it. This static cache is ‘light’, easy to load and readily served to the visitor’s browser. This makes a blog load fast and also reduces strain on the server.

WordPress users have a variety of caching plugins to choose from. The best two caching plugins according to me are: WP Total Cache and WP Super Cache. Super Cache is easy to set-up, but it lacks some features that Total Cache has. WP Total cache has added features like minifying JavaScript and CSS files (which I mentioned in the previous point).

4 Select good hosting provider (and plan)

To an extent, the loading speed of a blog depends on the quality of hosting provider and the hosting plan. If you choose shared hosting, your blog will be hosted on a shared server. Your blog will be hosted on a server that also hosts hundreds of other sites. This means that the resources of that particular server are shared. Check Website and Hosting services from Nehasoft India
( http://www.nehasoftindia.com )

While such hosting plans are inexpensive, loading speed and time are compromised. If you are serious about blogging, I suggest that you purchase dedicated hosting. Better yet, why not use a CDN? What if I say that good, free CDNs are also available? Next point is all about CDN.

5 Use CDN (free services are also available!)

CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. CDN service allows us to host our blogs on their super fast servers that are distributed all over the world. There are two types of CDN- paid ones and free ones.

If you use GT Metrix to analyze your blog, you’ll see something called ‘number of requests’. It is nothing, but the number of http requests the browser had to make to download your blog. The more the number of requests, the more the loading time will be! CDNs helps reduce the number of such requests made.

Further, the location of the servers also plays an important role in determining the loading speed of a blog. Many CDNs have their servers placed strategically, at different point around the globe. These servers are programmed to serve websites to a user from the server nearest to the user. For example, if a visitor from India visits your site, the CDN will make sure that the servers from India serves the site! This ensures low loading time for that site!

Quality CDN services that I recommend are- MaxCDN, Amazon CloudFront and CloudFlare. But if you prefer a free service, then try out CloudFlare’s or Incapsula’s free service. They are free, but offer great service.

6 Leverage Browser Caching

Many times, it happens that many files/resources of your blog are repeatedly used by a browser. Files like logo, titles, layout etc remain same throughout the entire blog. When a visitor browses through various posts on the same blog, the browser has to re-download the same files again and again. It takes time to download them repeatedly and the number of http requests increases.

By leveraging browser caching, you ask the browser to save such files that remains same throughout the entire blog. So, when a visitor browses through different posts, the browser shows the ‘saved’ files instead of re-downloading them. Thus, your blog is rendered fast!

If you are using WP Total Cache plugin, it has an option to turn on browser caching. Otherwise, you may edit the .htaccess file using ftp and insert few lines of code to leverage browser caching.

ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType image/jpg “access time”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access time”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access time”
ExpiresByType image/png “access time”
ExpiresByType text/css “access time”
ExpiresByType text/html “access time”
ExpiresByType application/pdf “access time”
ExpiresByType text/x-javascript “access time”
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash “access time”
ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access time”
ExpiresDefault “access time”

To open .htaccess, go to your blog’s C Panel> File Manager> Root Directory (enable showing hidden files)> .htaccess. After opening .htaccess file, paste the above lines of code at the very start. In place of the term ‘time’ in the code, define your own time preference. For example, instead of the term ‘time’, type- 1 month/1 year/ 1 day etc. Before you edit the .htaccess file, remember to take a back-up of that file.

7 Use good (premium) themes

Free themes are not meant for serious bloggers. Premium themes have lots of advantages over free ones. Premium themes have better design and coding, better security, better support, they load faster (due to neat coding).

8 Pay attention to plugins that are slowing your blog down

Do you know why WordPress is the best CMS? It is because of the large community of developers and larger number of useful plugins that can be used on WordPress blogs. Plugins help improve the performance of a blog.

When it comes to WordPress, the list of plugins ranges from the very useful Akismet to some crap plugin that may crash your blog! Plugins are basically scripts and codes. They use up resources of your server and time while executing their functions. Never use plugins that negatively affect the speed of your blog, unless that plugin is truly unavoidable.

There is no dearth of alternatives of a certain plugin in the world of WordPress. Suppose you find that a useful plugin is taking too long to load, try its alternatives. Go for asynchronous plugins. Try to contact the creator of the plugin (very much possible) and ask him/her for a code to make the plugin load asynchronously.

To find out plugins that compromise the speed of my blogs, I use a cool plugin called P3 Plugin Profiler. This plugin, after installation, scans the plugins used in a blog and generates a report. This report points out the time taken by plugins to load. It becomes quite easy to find out bad plugins and replace them with alternatives (or make them asynchronous).

9 Ads could negatively influence loading speed!

I agree that ads are the prime source of income for majority of the bloggers. But if the very same ads make your blog miserably slow, it becomes necessary to make changes to those ads!

Usually, image/animation rich banner ads are the prime culprits in slowing down a blog. While selecting ads and generating ad codes, choose asynchronous ad codes. Try to limit ads rich in graphics. Go for cleverly placed text ads.

10 Widgets- use only important ones (simplicity should be the motto)

Many of us find widgets to be irresistible. The result is that we end up using each and every fancy widget we can lay our hands upon! But I recommend that when it comes to widgets, keep it simple.

The more widgets you use, the more time it will take for loading. Try to use only those widgets, which are unavoidable. For example- Social following widgets, mail subscription widget, about author widget etc.

Have your say

These are the 10 best ways to improve the performance of a blog. I’ve tried and tested them on my blogs and saw good results! There was a noticeable increase in the loading speed and a decrease in the number of http requests and load time. My blogs’ scores on Google insights, GT Metrix and Pingdom speed test reflect this fact. If you have more tips, which you feel should have been included in the list, feel free to suggest them in comment section.

Author Bio : Richa Pandey a senior blogger and consultant associated with with Neha Soft India a leading web agency offering website design , development and SEO services.