Another one from the “What Not To Do” Archive….
I learned a valuable lesson a couple days ago.
Should have known better. Sure not the first time I’ve messed up.
Not the first website I broke and probably won’t not the last.
I just about killed one of my wordpress blogs.
Well, it’s on a domain by itself, so I really killed an entire site.
I broke it so much that it probably turned off any search engine traffic and most likely lost some visitors.
Reason I bring this up, is because some other people might be making the same mistakes.
I can’t be the only one, right?
So, how did I break it so bad?
Wasn’t TOTALLY my fault.
Not this time.
Let me tell you about it…
I have a website I have finally been putting some effort into, to finally get it up to par, get it in shape so I can finally promote it.
This site runs on wordpress.
That should be a easy. Hard to break wordpress, right?
Wrong… least not the way I do it.
Hope you’re not rolling like me.
I’ve gone through a number of theme’s for this site. Each one I thought was the one, only to find out I couldn’t do what I needed. Or there was something missing or wrong with the theme.
Probably been though 10 themes.
You do that too? Glad I am not the only one.
Okay, I picked one that I really liked and I thought I was getting somewhere.
It was modern looking, had all the features I wanted and it even came with Visual Composer. Awesome.
I could layout it out exactly as I wanted. This was going to be so cool.
I’ve spent the last week or so, quite a few hours tweaking the theme, adding plug-ins so I could get it how I wanted and function how I wanted.
The site was looking great.
It was all coming together.
But I made a BIG mistake…
The mistake was, that I did not do a speed test on the theme before spending all that time fixing it up.
I am talking about PageSpeed Insights from Google.
Yes, I know there are others, but they all do about the same.
But, here’s the interesting part.
Promise you won’t laugh at me?
Promise? Pinky Swear?
I ran the speed test on my site and it scored a whopping…
Sure it’s not the lowest but I do know, that is REAL BAD.
If you’re not familiar with the speed test service provided by Google, the score is out of 100, and 100 is the very best.
I was the proud owner of a site that scored a 22.
So proud indeed.
What does this mean?
If you believe that search engines take website speed in to consideration when the calculate where your pages will rank, this means my site would be lucky to see page 10 of any search results.
I sure wouldn’t be getting any SE traffic. And if it’s running that slow, it might also turn off visitors, they might leave quick or not come back. Can you say increased bounce rate?
We’d all like to think we have the best websites packed with the best content.
But let’s be real, we are not the only game in town. That means, we need to do everything we can to make our sites as fast as possible. Sure don’t want visitors leaving, or losing search engine traffic because of something that is fixable, like speed. Something we could control.
One of my other blogs gets a speed score of like 93. Where all my sites need to be.
Why was my score so low?
Couple things. And that is the point of this post.
(bought time you got to the point Ron)
Not going to blame the theme for all of the low score, but I should have ran a speed test on the demo before I spent too much time on it.
That was part of the problem.
Main culprit was all the plug-ins I added.
But come on, plug-ins can be so cool, do so many cool things. it’s SO easy to get hooked. Easy to get addicted.
If someone had held a wordpress plugin intervention I might not have made such a mess of my site.
I also used the excuse that I needed the site to do this and do that.
Here’s the deal…
Many people don’t realize that plug-ins can not only be system resources hogs, but worst yet, they can, and often do, add a ton of extra code to your pages.
Don’t believe me? Check your own pages.
Not only does this extra code make your pages bigger, which takes longer to download by your visitors, it is also triggers those, “You need to fix this”, alerts from most speed test programs.
Plus the same extra code could account for more than just one alert.
It’s kind of like the teacher taking the red pen to your book report. Could be lots of red ink for that matter.
Also, one SEO concept I learned a long time ago, and I think it still holds true to this day, is that the search engines want content more than they want code.
Only makes sense, right?
Internet surfers are looking for content, they don’t know about and could care less about the code behind the web page.
So how do you fix it?
I mean, how am I going to fix it?
First off I am going to go with a theme that I know will be speedy. I will test it before doing anything to it.
Probably Genesis or a Genesis child theme.
Next I am going to eliminate every single pug-in that I do not absolutely need. Everything is going that is not required.
As I think about it, some of what I need to do, I can probably do with the functions built into WordPress, like serving video’s.
Once I have a speedy theme in place and I purge my plug-ins, I will re-test my site and go from there.
So, if you have not done it yet, or have not done it lately, you need to speed test your site. You might be surprised.
I was. Very surprised.
Although I am sure you won’t beat my score.
If you do, let me know, I’d love to hear about it.
If your just building up your blog or wordpress site, start from the theme. Make sure it runs fast.
Then add plug-ins, one at a time and run a speed test after adding each one.
Yes it can be a little time consuming, but better than doing what I did, wasting so much time, only to start over from scratch.
I’ve been edumacated.
After some work my broken site is now running a steady 85. Even hit 91 on one test. 85 is still not the best, but it’s in the “green” which I assume is good with GI.
I’ll continue to tweak it over the next week or so, but for now it’s running much better and it’s good enough right now.
In case your wondering (I know you are), here is what I did to raise my score….
Installed a new theme. Got me to a score of 42.
The theme still needs some tweaks, but it’s usable and okay for now.
Dumped unnecessary plug-ins. Got me to 56.
Installed W3 Total Cache. Got me a 79.
Even better. Not sure if that is the best performance plugin, but it’s what I see recommended most often. I’ll do some research to see if there is anything better.
If any one knows of a better performance type plug-in, please speak up.
Tweaked the cache plug-in settings. Got me to 85.
When I have time I’ll mess with the settings and see if there other ways I can tweak things. My goal is to get over 90.
Oddly, google insights speed test still shows things that should be fixed, but were suppose to be taken care of with the cache plug-in. So not sure if it’s a issue with the speed test or something else. I’ll try my best to update this when I get my score up a little higher.
So I am a happy camper right now. Just spent way TOO much time on this seemingly simple task. Gotta get back to work. Work that pays the bills.
Do you have anything to add? Comments? Feedback?
I’d like to hear from you, leave a comment below…