November 23, 2015

How to increase the loading speed of your blog page

how to increase your blog's page speed

Just recently I had a very informative Saturday afternoon which left my mind spinning from all the info I received. A good friend of mine hooked me up with another friend of his that works in the field of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). While I have come a long way as far as blog design and graphic design for blogs, Search Engine Optimization is still largely unexplored territory for me. But with the idea in mind to grow my own blog traffic and at the same time being able to inform my clients better on this subject I had to start learning more about this topic.

So I met up with my friend's friend on a Saturday and we spent the afternoon exploring my website and finding out what I could do myself to amp up my visibility in search engines. The information was overwhelming and it became obvious that SEO is not something you do on the side. It is a real profession and business. The guy that helped me out actually works for a company that does nothing else than upgrading the SEO for websites and blogs. When you hire them you pay a monthly fee and they will take care of your site's full SEO. It won't be a surprise when I tell you that this ain't cheap. He mentioned monthly fees of over 300 Euros, needless to say that this is out of reach for the average blogger, myself included.

But, we small bloggers don't have to despair. There are still a lot of things we can do ourselves to become better visible for Google. And one of those things is increasing the loading speed or page speed of our blogs!

WHY IS LOADING SPEED OR PAGE SPEED IMPORTANT FOR A WEBSITE OR BLOG?

Loading speed or page speed is the time it takes to load the full page when you click on a website link. With some sites you hardly notice that they have to load and they appear immediately when you click their link, other sites take more time to load and you will see their text and images appear a lot slower and bit by bit on your screen. 

People don't have a lot of time on their hands anymore these days, so if they are visiting a website they want it to load quickly. Maybe you have noticed your own impatience when you've visited such a slow loading site. And chances are that readers will leave the site again before it has fully loaded, just because of that impatience.

A slow loading page is not only a turn off for visitors, but Google doesn't like it either. And therefore, slower loading websites will rank lower in Google search results. So, what can we do to prevent our blogs and websites from becoming slow loading sites?

TIP 1 - USE SMALLER SIZED IMAGES

With smaller sized images I don't mean that you have to use tiny images in your blog posts. Personally I like it best when a blog post image spreads over the full width of the blog post. This is called a 'justified alignment'. To create this look, the image has to be at least the same size width or wider than the blog post area. With an image of 800 pixels wide you're mostly save, because most blog post areas use width sizes between 600 and 800 pixels.

But did you know that photos can be over 5000 pixels wide depending on the device they are made with? So it should be obvious that when you upload images in their original size, they often take up far more digital space than needed. And all this used up digital space is causing your site to load slower. That is why you should monitor the size of your blog post images, but also the size of all the static images on your website (like a header image, your sidebar image, button images in the sidebar etc.).

Images can be decreased in size by using an image editing program. This is what I did so far with all my blog images. I cropped them all down to a width of 800 pixels. If you want to find out how to do this yourself, please check out this tutorial on resizing images with the use of a free image editing program.

While resizing your images this way is a good step in the right direction I got an even better tip from the guy that taught me some valuable lessons in SEO. There is a free online program that crops your images even further without losing quality and pixel size. So when you have resized your image to 800 pixels wide, you can make it even smaller in MB's and KB's with this tool.

The tool is TINYPNG.COM and it's very easy to use. As you can see in the image below, you just upload the image you want to crop to the program and then it will do the conversion for you and you can download the new and smaller version and use it. As you can see my image went from 112.1 kb to 44.2 kb, a saving of 61% which will help to keep a good loading speed.

How to increase the loading speed of your blog

You can use the tool for your blog post images but don't forget your header image and sidebar images! They too take up space on your main page!

TIP 2 - MONITOR THE LOADING SPEED OF YOUR BLOG FONTS

Did you know that the fonts you use on your blog affect loading speed as well? Well, just like an image they take up graphic space, and a rule of thumb here is that the more extravagant the font, the more space it will use and the slower your page will load.

That is the reason why those beautiful calligraphy fonts are often only used for styling accents like the blog header and maybe some buttons in the sidebar. If you would use such a font as a web font for the regular blog post text, your blog would take ages to load.

A lot of websites and blogs use Google Fonts. All the fonts listed here can be used on the web. Some of the fonts are fancier than others, but the great thing is that Google let's you know the loading speed of each font, so you can base your decision on that.

In the images below you can see that I have selected two fonts to work with: 'Open Sans' and 'Homemade Apple'. Open Sans is a clean and simple font while Homemade Apple is more extravagant. Notice the huge different in loading time between the two. If you would like to use the Homemade Apple font in your blog, my suggestion would be to use it only for blog post titles or sidebar titles and not for full blog post text since this would certainly affect your blog's loading speed.

How to increase the loading speed of your blog
How to increase the loading speed of your blog

And using multiple fonts on a website slows the loading speed down as well. So opt for a couple of fonts to use, but don't mix 5 or 6 different font styles on your site. So the font style or styles you pick out for your blog should not only be chosen for their looks, loading speed has to be kept in mind as well. If you want to learn more about fonts you can visit the article I wrote on the use of blog fonts.

TIP 3 - MONITOR THE LOADING SPEED OF BACKGROUND IMAGES

If you are using a background on your blog, whether it shows up right behind your blog post text or only at the sides of the blog, the loading speed of your page will certainly be affected by it.

Solid colored backgrounds and regular white backgrounds will load a lot faster than backgrounds with a pattern, a texture or a photo. After all, these backgrounds are basically images. So always make sure that if you use such a background you crop the background image in the same way as is described above for regular images.

And if your page is still loading slowly after cropping you might consider removing the background completely and using a solid colored background.

TIP 4 - MONITOR THE LOADING SPEED OF SIDEBAR GADGETS

Sidebar gadgets like an Instagram slide show or Pinterest image feed or basically any gadget that shows an image feed will slow down the loading speed of your site as well. Make sure that you only use these gadgets if they help you to gain more readers and subscribers. If you have them in your sidebar just for fun, you might want to think twice about them.


While SEO is a field that most bloggers will never fully understand, there are some small easy tweaks we can all apply to make our blogs and websites more SEO prove. I hope this little nugget of information on increasing loading speed will help you increase your blog's visibility!


 
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