6 Free Plugins to Speed Up Your WordPress Site

Site speed plays a very important role in online business. It can increase or decrease the revenue of your online business, depending on how much time your site takes to load. There is a shocking relation between site speed and conversation rate, which is particularly true for e-commerce sites.

There are a dozen of reasons to improve the site speed, but the two most important ones are - search rankings and user experience.

Search Rankings

When Google first announced site speed in web search rankings, it played a miniscule part. But overtime it has become one of the main development factors Google takes into account for ranking websites.

While page speed isn’t the only factor Google takes into account, pages that load faster and follow Google’s best practices for performance tend to rank better in Google.

Google also offers a wide range of tools and resources to help developers build faster websites via Make the Web Faster.

User Experience

KISSMetrics reported that 47 percent of users expect a page to load within two seconds. So, if your site takes more than two seconds to load, there is a good chance users will navigate away.

The Internet is filled with case studies, reports, and surveys on how page speed impacts site rankings and user engagement. People simply don’t want to wait. With that in mind, you should invest some time in improving the site speed – just like you would with any other part of your business.

In this article I want to share six free WordPress plugins that will help you increase your site’s traffic, user engagement, and revenue. Spending just a few minutes and installing these plugins can potentially have a big impact on the speed of your website.

WP Optimize


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If you take your site seriously, you might want clean up your database. By default, WordPress stores every post, page, and comment including post revisions, trash data, and information from various plugins. This may not sound like a huge speed booster, but you can easily make substantial speed improvements by optimizing your database.

I rely on WP Optimize plugin for the task. It is great for beginner and intermediate users, because it does not require you to go to PHPmyAdmin or do any technical stuff. You can do everything from your WordPress dashboard.

WP Optimize helps you de-clutter your database by removing stale post revisions, spam comments, trashed items, and removal of transient options. It can also tell you your current database size and gives you an idea on how much space you can save with WP Optimize.

Note: If you are using this plugin for the first time, make sure to back up your database. It is always the best practice to have a backup, just in case anything goes sideways. Though, if you are hosted on a managed WordPress hosting like SEJ, then you can rely on staging feature to restore the previous version.

Digg Digg

It has proven that having social media buttons on your site increases the chances of getting your blog posts shared by 50%. Though, the opposite seems to work for e-commerce websites.

floating-social-bar

But most social media plugins load too many scripts and are amongst the slowest to load.Digg Digg plugin fixes this problem as it comes with lazy loading option, meaning your site visitors will be shown a fake button until a visitor hovers over the buttons for sharing. You can also add buttons at the top or bottom of your page.

W3 Total Cache

When it comes to improving the site speed, there are a lot of things that you can do. However, installing a cache plugin will have the biggest impact on your site.

The W3 Total Cache plugin is one of the most popular caching plugins available for WordPress. There is a good chance you will be able to increase your site performance by 10 times, as claimed by its plugin developers.

A caching plugin stores the images, CSS, and Javascript files of your website on the server, so it doesn’t have to load the website from scratch and every time you receive a visitor, instead the static version of your site is displayed. This saves a lot of resources and works with any type of website.

The plugin is not easy to configure, but if you have a basic knowledge of WordPress, it will only take five minutes to set up. Additionally, you can integrate it with a CDN service like MaxCDN, which works really well with W3TC plugin.

Other alternatives include: WP Super Cache and WP-Rocket.me. The latter one is a paid product and costs around $39.

WP Smush.it

Today, blogging is not just about high quality content, but is also about visual graphics (infographics, images, and slides). Take a look at any of the SEJ post and you will see every blog post has at least two images.

High quality content with visual graphics is essential to set your site apart from the rest, but you need to ensure the images are properly compressed and uses appropriate format. There are dozens of plugin available (even a desktop based application like Shrink-O-Matric) to help you get the better images, but one plugin that stood above from the rest is WP Smush.it.

The plugin works by reducing image file sizes and improving performance using the Smush.it API within WordPress. It also strips the metadata from JPEGs, and removes unused colors from indexed images.

If you don’t want to use a plugin, you can use a premium service like Kraken.io.

P3 Profiler

There are hundreds of thousands of WordPress plugins, most of them are useful, and will help you with one thing or another. If you want to add a new functionality, you can usually find a plugin. But plugins can also be responsible for increasing your site speed. And you never know which plugin is causing the trouble. Fortunately, there is a plugin for that called P3 Profiler.

P3-Profiler-plugin

P3 Profiler scans the website to find out which plugins are causing a slow performance. It narrow downs the impact your plugins are having on your site’s load time.

Once you have figured out which plugins are causing are slowing down your website, you can replace them or remove them entirely.

BJ Lazy Load

Another great plugin to optimize the post images is BJ Lazy Load.

It allows you to lazy load post images, thumbnails, Gravatar images, and content iFrames, and replaces it with a placeholder. The images are only loaded as they are about to become visible in a user’s browser. You can also lazy load other images and iFrames in your theme by using a simple function.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the site speed is just one of the 200 factors Google takes into account when ranking a website. So, make sure to also invest some time on other aspects of your business.

By the way, don’t forget to test your site speed before and after installing these plugins to see how effective they really are. You can use Pingdom or GTMetrix, which are great tools for testing site speed.

How to Rank Your Business Locally

Do you have a local business that needs to rank higher in search engine results? Then today is your lucky day. Here are some vital tips on how to make sure that your all-important geo-targeted audience can find your business immediately.

Have the Right Category Associations

Based on a survey conducted by Moz, this is considered the most important factor in getting ranked locally. And, for an obvious reason. How can people locate you if your business is not in the right selected category. For example, if you are an electrician in Chicago, then you have to select electrician in Google’s (or Yahoo! or Bing) pre-set category taxonomy. If you select restaurant, then your business will not rank in relevant search terms. You can select up to 9 categories to help narrow down results.

Also remember that while describing the details of your business, make sure that you use the right keywords that describe the business; proximity of business’s address to the town/city of search; and the you include the most up-to-date information for your business.

 

Have On-Site Optimization

 

On-site optimization simply means that your website contains both locally optimized title tags and and meta descriptions. These are what people will notice when they search for local businesses since they will appear the title.

 

You also want to make sure that your website contains geo-targeted keywords on everything from page titles to the content that you create. Your NAP (name, address, phone number) contact information should appear on the header or footer of every page of your website. And, please make sure that all of this contact information remains consistent (same spelling, punctuation, wording and address).

 

Bonus Tips: Embed a map by getting a HTML code when you enter your address on Google Maps. And, make sure that you use stronger keywords. Wordstream has listed 8 tools to help you discover what people are searching for.

 

Get Listed on Local Search Directories

 

Whether it’s a hyper-local directory or a national directory, getting included in a third-party local business directory is an absolute must. Just remember that you need to submit and have your business verified first, which is why you everything that described you business is current and accurate.

 

Some of the most well-known local business directories are: Google PlacesYahoo Local, Bing LocalYelpMerchantCircleSuperpages and Yellow PagesCitysearchAngie’s List and Zagat are a few other suggestion. You can also use a tool like Whitespark Local Citation Finder to discover more local directories.

 

One final word about citations. Don’t submit your site to every directory out there. You may think that getting featured on hundreds of local business directories will cast a wider net, but that’s not going to happen. Stick with directories that can help people find your business. For example, we’re been building up citations to PBInstitute for helping children with substance abuse.  If I were to build up citations from a plumbing site…it’s really not going to help at all.  It’s actually going to hurt them in the long run.  Keep it all related and it’ll help you 10x more in the long run.

 

Earn Positive Reviews

 

One of the best ways to get your local business to rank is through positive reviews. To accomplish this, having outstanding customer service is required. Kate Morris states on the Moz Blog when you do this, you are giving “them no choice but to tell people about you.”

 

Other ways to have people leave reviews is by dropping hints, like including buttons/badges from sites like Yelp on your website; reminding people to leave a review by mentioning a local business directory on receipts; and/or asking customers to rate their experience via an email following a purchase.

 

Finally, make sure that you engage your audience through the social media platforms where your customers spend the most time. However, don’t plead for reviews. Use social media to interact with customers, such as announcing an event; resolving concerns or questions; or sharing relevant content. Also include social buttons on your website, it just makes life easier for your fans. Reviews will follow this type of engagement.

 

Measure and Analyze

 

Finally, use Google Analytics to discover information about your customers, which local sites are increasing traffic to your site and even the type of opportunities that are available to capitalize on for local search.