I know that your main concern, and if not the main one, one of the main ones, is to improve the SEO of your WordPress blog, because your first objective is to get organic visits.
In this concern of yours you forget that the current trend is no longer SEO hyper-optimization, but that everything tends to improve the user experience.
And why do you say this, SEO is no longer important?
I am not saying that SEO is not important and applying the basic concepts, this is fundamental. But Google is already making a lot of progress in semantic search , so just as some time ago the meta keywords tag stopped being useful, the day will come when all the SEO optimization you are doing now begins to stop being so effective.
Something that I can assure you that will never stop being effective is the user experience on your website.
A good user experience guarantees user satisfaction, and this translates into more page views and a lower bounce rate (although there is always a high bounce rate on blogs).
If you do not believe me, I give you an example that you live in your meat on a daily basis. Tell me, what do you do when a page is slow to load? If it is something that interests you a lot, you stop it from loading, but as soon as you get what you want, you leave, that website is not inviting you to stay. If it is something that does not interest you too much, you directly close the page and look for another.
If you do it, 90% of users do it.
With this short introduction, I want you to be clear that optimizing WordPress is something you must do, yes or yes, or you will stay in the queue of those who are already doing it.
Basic optimization you should do yes or yes
1. Install a backup plugin and create daily, yes, daily backups
What does this have to do with having an optimized site?
I understand that you can tell me that this has nothing to do with improving the user experience. And it is clear that directly it does not, but indirectly it is a fundamental function that your site must have.
Look at these situations.
- Your website is hacked, your website is offline for a while.
- Your hosting provider closes because you hired a company that started 1 month ago and disappears the following month. Your website will be down until you correct this.
- You install a new version of WordPress that is not compatible with the plugins or theme that you have installed and your website stops showing correctly.
Now tell me, are you offering a good experience to your user?
Well no, you cannot prevent these things from happening, or you can avoid them to a certain extent, but what you can assure is that if this happens you already have a contingency plan to solve it as soon as possible.
This plan is none other than having daily backups and being able to restore them quickly.
Perhaps for people like me who are “obsessed” with having a well-optimized site, daily copies are insufficient. For example, I have a daily, weekly, and monthly copy, so I have my backs covered so that I can restore my website at any time in case of “disaster.”
I have already explained to you why installing a plugin to make backups should be something basic, which indirectly affects the user experience on your website, but how do you do it?
In my case I have tried many backup plugins, but there is one that wins by a landslide, and this is WP-BackWPUp.
This plugin allows you to schedule as many backups as you want. In addition, you can send them to external services such as DropBox, your email, leave the copy in your FTP, etc.
I recommend that you send the copies off your server because if you get hacked on the web, or your hosting provider disappears, you will have no way to recover these backups.
If you have problems installing or configuring it, you can access this article where I explain how to configure BackWPUp.
2. Install a good SEO plugin
But didn’t you say that SEO wasn’t that important?
If this is what you have understood from my introduction, you have misunderstood me. SEO is still very important today, but over time SEO is likely to evolve over time. You just have to see that every so often Google makes changes to its algorithms. This yes or yes is making things that worked before not work now.
But this does not mean that you do not have a basic SEO optimization in your WordPress. In fact, if you don’t have it right now, you’re wasting potential traffic.
For this work there is also a plugin that stands out from the rest, and this is the WordPress Seo by Yoast.
There are other SEO plugins, but certainly none as good as Yoast’s. The most direct competitor it has is the All in One SEO but if you compare them they have no color.
If you want to configure your Yoast plugin you can see this article that will help you do it step by step.
3. Look for a professional hosting and with guarantees
The base of a well-optimized website is the server where it is. No doubt.
A good server can cover the small “impurities” that you have to polish on your blog. A bad server will make all the optimization you can do on your website do little or nothing.
It will be useless to optimize the images if later the response times of your server are very high. It is clear that if you do not have them optimized it would already be the bomb, but the user experience is going to be bad anyway.
It makes me very funny to see how many bloggers racing about acquiring a good hosting service. Then you spend your money on other things that may not be so important.
It is clear that if you have a blog as a hobby and that you really do not care if it is optimized or not, there is no point in looking for the best hosting, perhaps the cheapest one will suffice. With the same reasoning, perhaps it doesn’t make sense that you keep reading this article, because I’m wasting your time. You can go watch TV, play console or take a walk.
But if you are serious about your blog, you have to have good hosting, and you have to keep reading this article, it is only 10 more minutes that will make you take your blog to the next level. Not worth it?
For me, the best hosting I’ve tried so far, and at a totally affordable price for anyone, is that of Ionos (1&1).
And yes, I’ve been to Hostgator too, and that’s fine, but for me, Ionos (1&1) is on another level of service. In Ionos (1&1) you get a service similar to what you could get with other specialized hosting such as WP-Engine or Synthesis at a much lower price.
Do not be a rat and if your hosting does not measure up, change now.
Optimize WordPress in an advanced way
You should do the basic optimization now, it is something you can do yourself and it will not take too long. But in an article with an optimization checklist I can’t stay on the basics. I need you to do something more advanced.
1. Measure the loading time of your website
It is basic, if you do not measure the loading time of your website, you will not be able to improve it.
In order to improve anything, you must first be able to measure it, and the first thing you must do for advanced optimization is to know the time it takes for your website to respond.
For this there are also, as for almost everything, various tools.
My advice is to use only one and be guided by the one you use since the times are usually different from each other, and if you measure the start of the optimization with one, and the end with another, it is possible that the result you not what you expect.
The tool that I use to measure the loading time of a website is the Pingdom tool.
2. Do you have an optimized Theme? But maybe you should change it
One of the main optimization problems, slow response times, etc. comes from the base theme you have chosen for your WordPress.
There are themes that are authentic dinosaurs at the code level, they have so many options and they are so beautiful, that their loading becomes less eternal.
And how do I know if my theme is optimized or not?
There is no universal rule to find out, but as a general rule, themes that have sliders, a large number of shortcodes and, in short, great customization options in a simple way, are usually quite heavy at the code level. And therefore load.
The ideal is to do a deeper analysis of the theme, but it is clear that you are probably not technical to look at this type of thing and there is a very simple trick to see the response time that your next theme may have.
Measure your speed with the pingdom tool that I have recommended in point one.
If the loading speed of this theme is good, you can find out by doing that simple check.
And no, you don’t have to buy it to measure speed. Normally themes offer you demos of them, enter the URL of the demo in the pingdom tool and see how long it takes to load.
3. Your images are too heavy, optimize them
The optimization of images could be divided into two phases. That they really are independent of each other.
The first thing you should do is optimize the image before uploading it to your WordPress. Right here you can find an article on how to reduce the size of an image and optimize it for your blog.
But I understand that you will do this from now on, but you already have hundreds of images uploaded.
What do you do with them?
Install the WP-Smush.it plugin that will help you optimize all the images you have already uploaded.
Also continuing with this topic I recommend that you read another article that gives you techniques to use images correctly.
4. You should already be using a cache plugin
Surely you have heard of this but perhaps you have not yet opted for any.
A cache plugin is necessary because it reduces the load on the server, and makes your pages load faster, much faster, since they have the requests “cached” and it is not necessary to do them again to load the page.
Within WordPress there are two great plugins for this purpose, the WP-Super-Cache and the W3 Total Cache.
They are both very good cache plugins, and your choice will depend on how comfortable you are with handling one or the other. A priori WP-Super-Cache is easier to use, but W3 Total Cache has more configuration options and therefore more power than WP-Super-Cache.
Personally I have to tell you that I started using WP-Super Cache in all my sites, but since I tried W3 Total Cache well I have stayed with it.
To install and configure WP-Super Cache you can follow this article that will guide you step by step.
5. Use a CDN
And what milk is this?
A CDN comes from the Content Delivery Network, and what it does is that it stores the static content (images, CSS style files, etc.) of your blog, and when a user enters your website, instead of offering the content your server, your CDN serves.
What do you get with this?
Again the server load will be much less as you have to offer less content, so the content you have to serve will serve you sooner.
On the other hand, CDNs have a worldwide network of high-performance servers, so that content is offered to the user from the server closest to their location. For example, if the user connects from Spain, the content can be served from servers in Amsterdam, and if he connects from Argentina, he can be offered content from servers in Chile. This is just an example to make it clear that content is always served from the closest server. If there are servers in Spain, the content would be served from this Spanish server.
The power of the CDN is incredible, but it is only available for those who want to go up 2 levels with their blog. Because a CDN is a paid service just like a hosting service, and if you were already pricing with hosting, if I tell you to hire a CDN you don’t hit me because you are not close to me.
I recommend that you use MaxCDN and here is a more in-depth article on how it works and how to configure it in your WordPress.
6. You have plenty of plugins, and you know it
What a cool plugin, I install it, what a nice plugin, I install it.
In the end your website is full of trash that overloads your website and your server. But how do you know what is causing problems?
Very easy, as for everything in WordPress you have a fantastic plugin called P3.
With this plugin you will be able to see which plugins consume the most and you can decide whether to leave or remove them and look for alternatives.
When you remove a plugin, think it is not worth deactivating it, if you want it to have a full effect, deactivate it and delete it.
7. Common sense
This is without a doubt the best optimization technique for your WordPress.
Think that you have a site that however small it should be prepared for what may come, so do not overload it with unnecessary plugins, do not use several plugins to do the same things.
Do not install all the plugins you see online, only those that are necessary and exclusively necessary.
Do not flood your website with images that are sloppy, that do not contribute anything and that overload the web.
Stop using plugins that only serve to give visual effects, colors, beautify images, etc. They do not contribute anything and penalize your site.
Use common sense on a daily basis on your website and along with the rest of the steps you will always have an optimized site.
Without a doubt, this article has gotten out of hand, I have had a good time entertaining you reading, but the important thing is that you do not stay with this, save it in favorites, share it, do what you want with it but go following it step by step I pass and doing everything I tell you. Only then will you get a well-optimized site.