8 Things You Can Do to Speed Up Your Site and Get More Traffic in 2012

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It’s the start of a new year, have you set any goals for your website? If not, why not make it your goal to clean up your site and build traffic for your site?

Since I started blogging and building sites, I made it a goal that at the start of every year I would clean up my sites and work on building more traffic for them. After several years of working on different sites I finally came up with a process that works for me. So, whenever I have a new site that I am working on or even my older sites I follow that process.  And today, I wanted to share that process with you.

I will warn you that you may find it odd that I tell you to remove a bunch of plugins in one step then, add a bunch of new plugins throughout the process. But, these plugins I recommend are useful and are designed to help your site. I only recommend removing useless and unused plugins. So take a look at the process and do only what you need to.

Clean House

By cleaning house, I mean start with your website. If you want to bring more traffic to your site and get more return visitors on your site, you need to clean up your site. If your site is to slow, no one wants to stick around for a slow loading page. When it comes to slow loading pages, I am very impatient. Even if it’s a friend’s site or a site I visit daily. If it doesn’t load fast enough I move on. But I usually come back later when I have more time. If it’s a new site, I almost never come back for a second try. If if visitors weren’t leaving because of a laggy website,  Google and other search engines will count a slow loading web site against you. They say if you have slow loading site, this could affect your search rankings.

Step 1 – Remove Unused and Resource Hogging Plugins

When cleaning up your website, start somewhere easy. For me, it’s always the plugins. Remove any deactivated plugins and any plugins you do not want to use. Even when these plugins aren’t being used, the code is still in place and in most cases the web host will still load it. So remove it if you have no plans on using it anytime soon. Always remember, every time you install a new plugin, it will slow your site down. You may not see it, but the search engines will.

Once you go through and remove those plugins, look through your active plugins and see what you are using and what your really do not need. Remove those as well. If you like all of them, install the P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler). It will tell you how much of a resource hog each of your plugins are. If you still love all those plugins, keep them, if not get rid of them.

Step 2 – Remove Spam Comments, Post Revisions, and Optimize the Database

Once you get rid of those unused plugins, remove all spam comments and pending comments. When I did this, I ran some speed tests and found that my load time got better. If you haven’t removed old post revisions in a while, it will take some time to remove all those old revisions. To speed up this process, you can setup WP-Optimize to remove all your all old spam comments and post revisions. While you are removing those problem areas, use the database option to optimize your database.

Speed Your Site Up

Step 1 – Cache Your Website

Next, get yourself a caching plugin. I recommend W3 Total Cache. Just leaving the settings at default will speed up your site just a little. Total cache was designed to improve site performance and user experience by caching the browser, page, object, database, minify and using content delivery network support.

Step 2 – Reduce Image Size

Once you get your caching plugin in place and you still find that your site is loading to slow, install the WP Smush.it plugin. As the name implies, it “smushes” the image into a smaller size by using the Smush.it API within WordPress. By reducing image size, your pages will load faster. Once installed, all your new images will be resized automatically. They do have a beta feature that can go back and find all of your images and automatically resize them.

Step 3 – Setup the Cloud

If your site is still to slow, setup CloudFlare. CloudFlare is a CDN service that will protect and accelerate your website. Once you sign up and get your site on CloudFlare, your site is part of the CloudFlare community. That means all of your website’s traffic is routed through their intelligent globe network. They will automatically optimize the delivery  of your web pages so your visitors always gets the fastest load times and best performance available. They also block threats and limit abusive bots and crawlers from using up your bandwidth and server resources. Image Source: CloudFlare

Get Found

Another thing you need to do to get more traffic to your site is to get found. It doesn’t matter how much you write and how great it is, if the search engines can’t find it, then you won’t rank high enough for people to find your site. For me, I get most of my traffic from the search engines. So SEO came naturally to me. I spend a lot of time researching and keeping up with the latest tips and tricks of SEO all to help my sites and other sites I work to rank better with the search engines.

Step 1 – Add SEO Features to your site.

For those not all that interested in SEO but still want to take advantage of SEO, there are SEO plugins that will help you get the basics of SEO setup on your blog. For free and premium themes that do not have SEO options, there are some great plugins out there that will give you all the options you need to get found by the search Engines. NOTE: Only use one of these. Using more than one may cause all sorts of issues.

Step 2 – Add Advanced SEO Features to Your Site

For those that are looking for more SEO features or advice on the content side of your articles, you can purchase advanced premium SEO plugins that will analyze your content and provide advice on how to make it better for the search engines to find  you. If you are using the SEO plugin by Yoast, you won’t need these advanced plugins. It has the SEO content built right into the plugin. If you are not using the Yoast plugin, check out these great premium plugins. I have used both the Yoast plugin and the premium ones and it works just as well as the premiums. NOTE: Only run one of these plugins, except Keyword Winner. They basically do the same thing.

Its Time for a Remodel

Once you get everything in order, take a good look at your site. Are you happy with the look? Is it out of date or you still using a free theme? If so, maybe its time for redesign. You don’t have to hire a web designer to get a new look for your site, you can always change the theme. So if a custom redesign isn’t an option, you can always go with a premium WordPress theme. There are plenty of great premium themes out here. To choose the right one, stick around and browse the different articles available here. WP-Kube finds and shares only the best premium themes and the companies that create them.

18 comments… add one
  1. Steven@Silverf0x.com says

    Great articles. Really useful. Hope you not mind if I share some of them in my blog. P3 and cloudfare really helping and I think it will great share them to my readers.

  2. Michael says

    It is really difficult to do SEO on a website, but with enough work it is definitely worth it. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Marcus says

    Excellent stuff James…

    I took a look at Cloudflare but was a bit unsure about giving them direct access to my server.

    WP Total Cache was well WP Total Crash when I tried it…

    nice tips though, I’m off to check out my plugins now.

    Why don’t you do some Hangouts where you discuss this stuff….and also you could look at the Google Page Speed results and how to interpret them

    • James says

      Marcus,

      Thanks for commenting…

      I am not sure why those caching plugin aren’t working for you. I would contact Total Cache support and see if they can help. If not, then check with your web host. Sometimes, they may block certain plugins and settings…

      As for hangouts, I haven’t really tried them out and I never really thought of using them before.

  4. Masood says

    Great tips James. Often times people use too large image files and what they do not know is it is one of the main reason why the website loads slow. Speed is important for a website and I personally would not want to visit a website loading slow. Thanks for the tips.

    • James says

      Thanks Masood,

      That’s the problem I have on my portfolio site. Lots of big images. So I have to use Smush.it and cloudflare to seed it up. I do see a big difference with load time.

  5. Martin says

    The biggest improvement in the last 2 weeks for me was migrating my entire site from Drupal to WordPress :)

    That said, I’d already installed every plugin you’ve mentioned so thankfully I’m on the right track. While I looked at P3 and liked the results, it currently has a weird PHP error that conflicted with a plugin so I’ll wait for that to get cleared up.

    I will be checking out Cloudflare though so thanks heaps for that thought provoking idea. Have an awesome day.

      • Martin Cooney says

        For the most part, it went OK until I needed to do the Drupal based forums and the chosen WP Forum was bbPress. I stumbled into the rats nest of a different content type with the comments type not being a content type :)

        I ended up simply paying Gconvertor to convert that side of things (in hindsight, I should have paid them for their entire content, user, etc migration process). The guys were reliable as well as great pricing. $70 was all so a great use of resources.

        Then was the content remodelling – shortcodes, tiding up images, formatting etc etc. Took about 2 weeks which I did over the quite time of XMas. Google Rankings have been retained and search traffic has increased since before the migration.

        All in all, a great result and a much better performing website.

        And I’ve now used Cloudflare as well since that has seemless integration with W3 Total Cache

  6. Keri says

    James,

    Thank you for the inventory of processes to follow. There is a discussion on my Facebook Page right now that lends to a lot of what you are saying.

    Thank you for your insight!

    ~Keri

  7. Radu says

    Hey James,
    Great tips here..right on time, since my blog was running very slow…the useless plugins are removed now and now I’m taking a look at Cloudflare.
    Thanks for sharing. Much appreciated.

    All the best,
    Radu

  8. faissal alhaithami says

    James this was really helpful,

    I have deactivated few plug-ins and one of them was Jetpack by using the plug-in you mentioned I knew that the Jetpach was taking my speed away :D (Plugin Performance Profiler) makes things easier. what is more, I installed the CloudFlare service.

    I hope this will speed-up my blog performance Thanks a lot for sharing this with us.

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