Like I wrote about in a previous post about migrating to SiteGround, my blog was migrated from wordpress.com to a hosted wordpress.org. But that is not all to it, we still have some other activities to do to optimize this blog. It takes some effort and time to find out what the settings and plugins are all about. I want to share the steps taken so either you can use this as well, as we have some other fine bloggers at ITQ, or you can inform me of more successful options/steps you have taken. This is a continuous improvement. Use the comments and tell me your story (or settings)!

For optimizations to work you should have some content and readers. If you don’t have any content there is nothing much to optimize, and the readers will make the caching optimizations work. If a page didn’t get requested nothing will be cached.  So first work on some content. Anyway, I am going to discuss the following:

  • Why and how to measure
  • Page Speed Optimizations with page appearance tips and several plugins like Compressions, W3 Total Cache, Autoptimize and so on
  • Analytics
  • JetPack
  • Search consoles and Yoast
  • RSS Feed optimizations
  • Plugins list

Why Optimize WordPress?

You should optimize WordPress to run as efficiently as possible. Not only that your readers will like a fast responsive site, and probably stick around longer, but also for SEO, example Google positions will be influenced by page speed.

So how do I measure my Page Speed?

As said Google does measure page speed. You can see what your Google Page Speed is at Pagespeed InsighGoogle page speed insightsts. Just type in your URL to test and click analyze.  If you have changed something, retest (just wait 30 seconds from re-testing to clear the pagespeed cache). Don’t forget your mobile or PageSpeed Insight Desktopdesktop users, use analytics to find out where to focus.

 

Also get a GTMetrix.com free account. Even more insights with control where your test run from and based on which connection details. You can schedule tests, monitor results (and get notified when these drops) and create comparisons. Pretty nice. You can use the API to connect in, for example, Async Javascript plugin.
Example of this blogs report:

gtmetrix

Another tool I sometimes use is Pingdom.  But that is more to have a second opinion and don’t put all my money on GTMetrix results.

Page Speed Optimization

A little heads up, I am not going for the 100/100 mark so you will not find that solution in this post. The whole reason Google has developed PageSpeed Insights was a guideline to the best web performance practices and provide recommendations to optimize your site. And by following these guidelines hopefully, you will achieve a faster website. However, there are also other factors to take into account, for example, your site setup or hosting setup as most basic hosting offer slightly fewer speeds than a superduper lighting hosting offer. You can find some tips on how to do some steps to get you close to your magic mark. What I want to have is a responsive site where Mobile and Desktop are green on PageSpeed and YSlow is not yellow.

WordPress caching is critical for performance. Period. But as caching is a very important part in optimizing your site, this can also work against you as well if you don’t play by its rules. Emptying caches is important when you make significant changes to your site, adding or removing plugins and changing plugins are one of the moments you should do this. And don’t forget to empty the multiple caching mechanisms. Or excluding dynamic components from your caching if you have these.

And please backup and test first before making any change.

Site Appearance

Your choice of theme is important for the page speed as Themes can be bloated, or some settings work better with some kind of theme or the other. Choose to show only summaries on your landing page, and use the number of Widgets on your page wisely. Minimise to the ones really needed. A lot of external Widgets can slow down your site. When you have the chance, check your page speed when you just installed your theme. Have a baseline before adding all those warp engine plugins.

And also keep that amount of plugins in order.

Update WordPress and plugins when updates are available. Please backup and test first before making any change. But most of the time updates contains important fixes and features that optimize your site as well.

Trash spam messages, delete posts to clean that database of unneeded data. And purge draft revisions with this plugin.

Optimize Images

Google PageSpeed Insights probably is telling us we need to optimize our images. Optimization can be done on the client (aka us publishers) and on the server side.  On the client side, we should only use PNG (default) or JPEG (for photo’s) and don’t create huge image. Optimize the images via the software we use (get-help). On the server side, we can install a plugin as TinyPNG to use smart lossy compression.  It has a bulk-optimization feature so after you first install you can compress your entire media library with one click (do watch you hosting CPU cycle usage maximums as a bulk optimization will use some CPU). And from there on out it will auto-compress your images upon upload. You can optimize 500 images per month for free. You can add a credit card too when for example bulk optimize or go above the 500 per month (900 will get you billed for approx 3,60 at 0,009 per image). Do note that other image optimizers have a similar model.

Gzip Compression

Check and Enable GZIP compression is a plugin that checks and enables Gzip compression when needed. Gzip compression is bundling or zipping, pages on the server before the page is sent to the client.  This saves bandwidth and therefore increases the loading speed of the page significantly. The reader’s client automatically unzips the pages. This compressing and unzipping only takes a fraction of a second. Needed for compression.

Warning: If you have turned on this plugin and want to remove be careful you have access to the server itself. Just disabling this plugin will give you a blank page. Normally you would like to have this option on your site.

W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache (or W3TC) is one of the most complete caching options, offering page caching, browser caching, database caching and minification just to name a few. The free options are worth your site. W3TC integrates with Google Pagespeed Insights API and gives you insight on your site performance from the W3TC dashboard and wp-admin top bar on your home site. And use the preview mode when checking your options.

In W3TC I have set:

  • Page Cache enabled to enhanced disk.
  • Minify enabled, mode auto and disk (set HTML, JS and inline minify options in the settings via the side menu).
  • Opcode cache Opcode: Zend OpCache, validate enabled.
  • Database cache enabled to disk.
  • Object cache enabled to disk.
  • Browser cache enabled. (Set headers except for ETag, enable Gzip and remove query strings in the browser settings via the side menu)
  • Fragment Cache method to disk.

Another great feature is that when you change options or plugins it will notify you about emptying caches.

AutOptimize

Together with W3TC I use AutoOptimize to complement W3TC.  AutOptimize is efficient and very easy to use.

In AutOptimize settings check the following options to minify our JavaScript, CSS, and HTML (show the advanced settings):

  • Optimize HTML Code
  • Optimize JavaScript Code, Also aggregate inline JS.
  • Optimize CSS Code, Remove Google Fonts, Also aggregate inline CSS and Inline all CSS.

And we also need unchecking, Under JavaScript Options uncheck “Force JavaScript in <head>?”.

Async Javascript

Another one to complement and get the warnings down is Async Javascript. This one works perfectly with AutoOptimize and GtMetrix. Setup the GTMetrix API and, Enable and follow the plugin directions to enable settings to work together with AutOptimize. Settings are:

  • Status: Enabled
  • Method: Async
  • jQuery: Defer
  • Exclusions:
  • Autoptimize Status: Enabled
  • Autoptimize Method: Defer

Those nasty Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content warnings are gone.

CloudFlare (SiteGround) CDN

You can get a free CloudFlare via SiteGround. I installed the Cloudflare plugin so there is control from WordPress. Next, to this, you can set the plugin to autoflush when a site appearance change has been done. One downside is that not all plugins recognize CloudFlare and you probably have some CDN warnings around.

WP Supercache (SiteGround)

Another layer of basic caching was unneeded, and to control and flush I have to use another admin console (cpanel from SiteGround). I turned this one off as I saw no benefits to the page speed and just an overhead.

Analytics

Hey wasn’t this about optimizing? Yes, and knowing about how your readers reach your blog, what they use to view your site and their behavior on your site is very important here. If you haven’t assessed you cannot know what changes your actions will have.
If like me you are coming from a JetPack statistics enabled WordPress.com blog, you will probably still use these statistics. Next to this setup a Google Analytics account and add this to your Blog. Google Analytics can give you for much more details in the statistics which in turn you can use to optimize for in your blog setup or post publicizing.

You can easily integrate Google Analytics using a plugin, for example by using MonsterInsights and connecting to the Google Analytics API. Very easy, no coding needed.

At first, there is an offset of JetPack visitors and Google Analytics. You will have to setup your Google Analytics to get some similar results as with JetPack.

  • To the Property Settings of your site – Use enhanced link attribution Set to On (also check Monster Insights settings – Link Attribution -Enable enhanced link attribution is selected as well.
  • Add a custom filter to your site – Lowercase – Filter Field: Request URI

JetPack

I still have that thing around mainly for some gallery settings, SEO and for Publicizing from the admin. I am working to see if even more of the JetPack Plugins can be replaced as JetPack itself is huge. However I don’t want to end up with a thousand plugins to replace one, so baby steps here. If you don’t use one of the JetPack plugins, turn these off. You can turn JetPack plugins of at yoursite\wp-admin\admin.php?page=jetpack_modules.

Search Console and Yoast

A big chunk of the traffic to pascalswereld.nl comes from search engine traffic. So this is a valuable part to take special notice in. I am using the search consoles to get more insights on the search terms and originators. And not just getting google traffic, there are other search engines around. However for search engine optimization tips, this is also a certain specialty I still am figuring out. Currently just to have more insight by adding my sites to the search consoles, and added Yoast SEO plugin.

Add an account and your site to:

Add to Yoast SEO Search Console settings. And optionally also add to Jetpack – Settings – Traffic – Site Verification. Furthermore, add the socials to the Yoast Settings. I am using Yoast to give me insight on my site and use the sitemaps. I am still working on getting to know Yoast SEO a little better. But other than installing, enabling all the features and getting the webmaster tools up and connected, at this time I have nothing more to explain. Important for me is content over SEO, and at this time yes there is room but I am also quite satisfied with the number of readers that find the blog via search engines. And I think overall the quality is also good.

RSS Feed optimizations

Feeds are included on your side, however, with the default settings you might get warnings on some of the feed validators. Yes, those are warnings but I know of some nitty picking RSS feed gathers where warnings will break.

You can check your site at https://validator.w3.org/feed/check.cgi?url=https%3A%2F%2Fpascalswereld.nl%2Ffeed%2F

Important settings for me were:

  • Change Settings – Reading – For each article in a feed, show: set to summary. This cleared almost al warnings I had. And this also optimizes your page appearance for speed.

For the the error:

Line 20, column 0: Use of unknown namespace: com-wordpress:feed-additions:1 (10 occurrences) [help]

<site xmlns=”com-wordpress:feed-additions:1″> followed by your site id

Turn off Enhanced Distribution JetPack module. You can turn off JetPack modules at: yoursite\wp-admin\admin.php?page=jetpack_modules

And more Plugins

I use the following plugins on my blog. Most of them are even for more optimizations. The plugins I did not describe (yet) are straightforward, install and use the defaults and get to know them. There are also plugins that offer some other function to my blog, like sharing options. The list of activated plugins (19):

  • Accelerated Mobile Pages
  • AddToAny Share Buttons
  • Akismet Anti-Spam
  • Async JavaScript
  • Autoptimize
  • Check and Enable GZIP compression
  • Cloudflare
  • Compress JPEG & PNG images
  • Disable Google Fonts
  • Easy Twitter Feed Widget
  • Far Future Expiration Plugin
  • Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights
  • Jetpack by WordPress.com
  • Pre* Party Resource Hints
  • Redirection
  • Simple Revisions Delete by b*web
  • Sponsors
  • W3 Total Cache
  • Yoast SEO

– Enjoy your readers having a fast response!

Sources: interweb! Be careful there is a lot out there.

 

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