Improving the site speed of my website

Site speed and page load time wasn’t my plan when I logged into Google Search Console. I didn’t have a plan beyond checking in on search terms and insights. I’ve had it up and running for a couple of weeks now, so it has collected some data. I learnt that all my pages are indexed and the Search Console has flagged six or seven terms that I’m ranking for, namely the companies mentioned in my portfolio. This reminds me I still need to search-engine optimise these pages. Instead of cracking on with that, I’m drawn into looking at site speed.

Google Search Console

Since Lauren Mae Digital is such a small website, Search Console hasn’t flagged any errors on the pages. I realised that I hadn’t submitted a sitemap, so completed that beneath the Index > Sitemaps section. A sitemap basically helps Google better crawl your website and index your pages. If you head to the Yoast SEO General settings in WordPress, you’ll find the XML Sitemap URL for your website. Next, I tried out the Search Console Enhancements and landed on PageSpeed Insights, a Google developers tool.

PageSpeed Insights

This is an external tool to Google Console that measures the load speed of your website. It gives you a rating from 0-100, flags the elements that are slowing down your site and provides you opportunities to improve your load time. My initial score for mobile was 39 and desktop, 59. Dramatic improvement was needed! A closer look at the diagnostics showed many of the problems were (frustratingly) within the Prefer theme, something out of my control.

site speed with PageSpeed Insights

The PageSpeed Insights tool suggested I ‘enable compression of text’. For this, I had to log into my cPanel and select the Optimise My Website software to go ahead and compress my content. This increased my PageSpeed score by 30 points on both mobile and desktop.

Hummingbird — Site Speed Performance Plugin

There are WordPress plugins that can help improve your site speed. I decided to install a couple of these to see if they can help before I start hunting for a new theme. The first plugin I’ve installed is Hummingbird, which appears to work directly with PageSpeed Insights to help you boost your site speed and score.

Hummingbird allowed me to enable caching on my website. Essentially, this will permit users to store static HTML copies of my pages, so next time they go to Lauren Mae Digital, the pages should load faster. It also allowed me to ‘eliminate render-blocking resources’, cleaning up anything not being used in loading the page.

Smush — Image Optimisation Plugin

I’m aware some of the images I’ve uploaded to the website are too large. I took the recommendation of Hummingbird to install Smush, an image optimisation plugin. Smush has identified the images that are in need of compression and has bulk ‘smushed’ them. Using an image optimisation plugin to compress my uploads has taken my score up to 72 on mobile, 75 on desktop.

The final results

site speed insights results

Each of these tools, PageSpeed Insights, Hummingbird, Smush (and Google Search Console for leading me to them) have helped me improve my site speed greatly. I began my site speed optimisation with a red 39 ranking and increased it to 72. They’ve helped me do everything I can to boost my load times. I’m happy with this score for the moment; however, if I do want to improve it further in the future, I will have to start looking for a new WordPress theme.

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