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Jeremy Gunawan

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Let’s start by traveling back to a time when Google and Yahoo! were still evenly matched. Imagine Google’s clean homepage were to take 10 seconds to load, while the Yahoo! homepage loaded in 2 seconds. Do you think Google would be the top search engine in the world today? Speed matters – you have 8.25 seconds to capture the interest of your reader. If you fail, they will move on to the next site.

According to a report by the Microsoft Bing search team, a 2-second delay in page responsiveness reduced user satisfaction by 3.8%, increased lost revenue per user by 4.3%, and reduced clicks by 4.3%. Google is blatant about including your site speed into its ranking algorithm, with their PageSpeed Insights tool to test your site speed.

The importance of website speed when it comes to SEO, visitor attention and retention and eventually, your bottom line, cannot be overstated. This infographic by KissMetrics further drives home the point of having a fast website.

3 Steps To Speed Up Your WordPress Website

There are 3 simple steps to speed up your WordPress site.

1. Perform A Speed Test

The first step is always to know where your website currently stands. Use one of the following three tools to test your website speed. Not only do these tools provide you your site speed, most also offer a slightly deeper analysis to fix the problems.

1. GTmetrix 

Type in your website URL, and GTmetrix will generate a report for you to analyze. It only tests from a server in Canada for their free version.

2. Website Speed Test By Pingdom

Put your website link and choose “test from” to select a location nearer to your server, if you’re a localized website.

3. Google PageSpeed Insights

As mentioned earlier, Google’s own tool to test your speed.

2. Address The Low Hanging Fruits

Once you run your site speed test, you will likely be left with a score, a ranking or a grade, and an analysis of what you could improve. Depending on your technical know-how, you may or may not be able to understand all the items mentioned, which is why we wrote this. Take note that there will likely be some items, such as ‘Server response time’, that you cannot directly control. If you’re on a shared server hosting, you may face this problem and you probably cannot address it unless you switch to a higher level of hosting.

That’s why it’s always best to focus on the low-hanging fruits when it comes to the analysis.

3. Call In The Developers

Once you tackle the low hanging fruit with your WordPress site, you may find your site speed has improved to a satisfactory level. You may see anywhere between a 20% to 70% improvement in speeds, which is good enough for most folks. However, if you REALLY want to push the envelope, then it’s time to give your WordPress developers a call to fix the final few issues and bring your website to blazing speeds.

Basic Site Speed Tweaks

The following are tweaks you can attempt for yourself on your WordPress website to see some immediate wins in the loading times for your website.

1. Optimize Images

This is the simplest thing you can do if it is highlighted as a problem. Many of our clients tend to upload high-resolution images, which may be unnecessary for the web. A lossy compression on an image can reduce its file size by over 80% while still looking great. While WordPress has built-in functionality that you can activate for compression of images, it requires some technical knowledge. So we suggest you use one of the following 2 free image optimization WordPress plugins instead. Do be wary of the settings and keep a backup before proceeding.

  1. WP Smush (Go Pro for more benefits) – https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-smushit/
  2. TinyPNGhttps://wordpress.org/plugins/tiny-compress-images/

Explore optimizing images further with this WooCommerce article on how to get fast-loading, fantastic-looking product images.

2. Enable Gzip Compression

If Gzip compression is currently not enabled for your website, you need to get on it right away. It is a standard practice for most websites and in essence, it compresses files, making them smaller for a faster transfer over a network.

Your hosting provider may be able to do this for you, so drop them an email or open a ticket to see if they do. If they do not, you can either install a WordPress plugin that just does Gzip compression or you can use a caching plugin, which we discuss in the next section.

3. Leverage Browser Caching & Enable CDN

For these items (and more), you would make use of one of the popular caching plugins available for WordPress. Some of the free ones you can utilize include W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, and the one we’re going into detail for this post – WP Fastest Cache. If you have a specific preference (you’re already ahead of the curve if you know your caching plugins and have a preference), then here are guided articles for the other two WordPress caching plugins:

  1. W3 Total Cache Plugin + Cloudflare (CDN) is a great combination to speed up your website – https://www.bloggingwizard.com/w3-total-cache-cloudflare/
  2. WP Super Cache Configuration Guide – https://www.shoutmeloud.com/wp-super-cache-wordpress-optimization-plugin.html

The purpose of creating an actionable guide for WordPress caching is to show you how simple it can be. To make our guide comprehensive, we also show how to set up a working CDN option (free as well) to ensure you get the best improvements possible. Do note that every WordPress site uses a different set of plugins and themes, so it’s possible this configuration may not work the best for you.

Speed Up Your WordPress site with WP Fastest Cache + Jetpack

Even though there is a premium version for WP Fastest Cache plugin, the free version is usually good enough to get considerable benefits from. It is a plugin that is gaining in popularity – with over 300,000 downloads already! When we tested it against other free plugins, we found that it was the best in terms of usability and simplicity. Jetpack, a popular WordPress plugin pack with over 3 Million installs, comes bundled with new WordPress installs and provides you with a free Content Delivery Network (CDN).

So let’s begin!

Setup & Configure WP Fastest Cache

  1. Go to your WordPress dashboard
  2. Go to Plugin -> Add new

 

  1. Search for WP Fastest Cache

 

  1. Install & Activate the Plugin

 

  1. Navigate to WP Fastest Cache settings from your sidebar

 

  1. Choose the settings as below. These are usually Minify, combine, Cache System, Gzip and Browser Caching. Be careful with the settings – it’s better to take things slow. Make one update at a time and refresh your browser to test if anything is broken before moving on to the next. That way, if your website doesn’t work correctly, you can quickly roll back to a working setting.

 

  1. If everything is fine, test your website’s speed again for any improvements.

Setup & Configure Jetpack

  1. Go back to your Plugins page and search for Jetpack.

 

  1. Install the plugin & activate it.
  2. Connect your website to wordpress.com (If you don’t have an account, you can create one for free).
  3. Follow instructions and choose the free plan.
  4. After Jetpack redirects you back to your WordPress dashboard, click Activate Recommended Features.
  5. After that, go to the Settings Tab and select “Media and Activate Speed Up” image.

 

  1. Now go back to WP Fastest Cache settings, go to the CDN Tab and click CDN by Photon.

 

  1. When you click it, a popup will appear, and all you need to do is follow instructions.
  2. When “Enter CDN URL” field appears, choose one that you like.
  3. After this step, your setup and configurations are complete!

  1. At this point, check your Page Speed again. You should see a significant improvement.

Is This Enough?

The answer is no. Aside from the issues mentioned earlier, there are still other factors that can affect your WordPress site speed. In fact, some items in the Page Speed Insights test are extremely hard to resolve due to services that Google themselves offer, like Analytics or Google Fonts.

Many novices end up with a broken website after installing a caching plugin, because they are unable to grasp the nuances of minifying the files on their site.

If you cross that hurdle, you will notice that every new plugin you install will degrade your site speed. While a fast website is great, it is also paramount to have tight WordPress security and your marketing will surely require additional plugins. Therefore, it’s an on-going process and you should probably seek a professional to help keep your page speed up and everything running smoothly every quarter.

A Case Study – Does Speed Really Matter?

A case study is able to illuminate the impact of speed on an actual website much better, in our opinion. We recently did a talk on Features Of A Good Business Website, where we presented a case study of a client we helped with their page speeds. While you should probably go through the entire slide deck, we’ve clipped the case study results slide below.

For the startup client mentioned in the slide above, the GTmetrix data on the left shows the results before we worked with them. The GTMetrix on the right shows data 9 months AFTER we worked with them. The 51.4% improvement in page speed down to 5.3s has had a significant impact on the business for this startup.

More visitors are not immediately leaving their website, as evidenced by the bounce rate improvement of over 80%. This, in turn, has led to visitors spending a lot more time on the site, and looking at 68% more content than before. These online improvements have translated into more leads and greater revenue for their business. And we still work with them every quarter to tweak their page speeds and help their site metrics keep improving.

Conclusion

By this point, I hope you have a definitive conclusion of your own as to the importance of website speed, as well as some actions you can take right away to improve your own site speed. If you have any concerns or experiences with making your website faster, feel free to share in the comments section below or contact us directly.

Email marketing is not dead. In the past, the focus of email marketing was coming up with attractive (and sometimes misleading) headlines in the hopes of grabbing someone’s attention. While the headline is still important, marketers have evolved to make emails more noticeable.

Text based emails a requirement as they are best for those with slow internet connections. However, a clever combination of visuals and words are more effective in keeping your audience engaged. This is where HTML email templates come in.

HTML emails are more attractive to viewers as they are more visual and interactive. Don’t let the programming term throw you off, though. Email marketing software should make it easy for you to set one up quickly. Before we get into that, let’s see why email marketing is important.

Why is Email Marketing Important?

Emails are prone to be deleted or left unread by recipients. This results in some business owners and marketers dismissing email marketing without a second thought. However, according to Campaign Monitor, such dismissal mean you could miss out on:

  • Getting a wider reach
  • Having your message seen
  • Achieving higher conversion rates
  • Getting higher ROIs

These are just some of the benefits of email marketing. If you want to make more product sales and earn the trust of your audience, I recommend you start utilizing it. Still not convinced? Read the 10 benefits of email marketing.

While creating HTML email templates may sound daunting, most email marketing software are designed to make implementing them easier. Now, let’s talk about the most popular one amongst small and medium businesses – MailChimp.

What Is MailChimp?

MailChimp is an email marketing software that will change the way you market your product online. It offers a variety of easy options for designing, sending, and saving email templates.

The software has an easy to use interface, making it one of the most popular software out there.  Just ask the millions of users who continue to use MailChimp as their email marketing tool. Already using MailChimp but finding it hard to build a mailing list? Check out Mailing List 101: Why You Need One And How To Build It.

Why Use MailChimp?

Here are a few reasons why users prefer MailChimp for their email marketing:

  • It will be your personal newsletter-publishing platform, allowing you to create newsletters of varying types, fast and easy.
  • Empowers you to build a list of the people you want to market your products to, and save the list for use later on.
  • Helps you to create and save custom templates for your products, thus saving you the trouble of writing a new one every time the need arises.

The best bit is that MailChimp offers a free-to-use version that lets you grow to 2,000 subscribers and send out 12,000 emails per month at NO cost.

Due to its popularity, I’m using MailChimp to show you how to set up a custom email template in the next section. If you’re looking for options other than MailChimp – scroll past the next section to read about them.

How To Set Up A Basic Campaign Email Using MailChimp Templates

Once you’ve signed up at MailChimp for your account, you can follow this step-by-step guide to make a simple, yet beautiful, email using an existing MailChimp template.

1. Login with your account

2. Click “Templates”

3.Choose“Create Template”

4. On the next screen, you will see three options to get started with templates -Layouts, Themes and Code your own.

  1. Layouts provide you with a plain HTML email layout created by MailChimp.
  2. Themes give you options of several complete email templates filled with dummy content.
  3. ‘Code your own’ is for developers, and shows you pure HTML code to work with and requires programming skills.

5. Choose Themes

6. I will choose the “New Collection” Theme for this guide.

7. In the next screen, you should see the email to be sent out on the left and the Designing tools on the right.

8. Designing tools have 2 tabs, for content and design.

  1. Content includes elements used to design within our email template. 
  2. Design is setting for overall email elements like text font size, font color, etc. 

 

9. If you want to edit an element within the email shown on the left, just hover your cursor over that element and it will show a black border around it. When this happens, just click the pencil icon and the Designing pane on the right will switch to display the currently selected element settings.

10. To add a new element, select the element you want from the Designing Tools under the Content tab and drag and drop it to the Email on the left side, placing it where you want it. The Designing pane changes to show the settings for the new element so you can make the changes you want to it before you hit ‘Save and Close’.

11. Make your edits and hit “Save & Close”

12. After you have made the changes you want to the email, you can click Preview & Test.

13. The preview screen shows how your email template would look like on both desktop and mobile.

14. Test Mode asks you for a test recipient’s email address. If you want to test the template on multiple emails, simply separate them with a comma.

15. Once everything looks perfect, you’re good to go. Remember to hit save and exit after giving your template a name.

That’s it. It’s simple, right?

Tricks To Create An Email Template Using MailChimp

Here are a few tricks for creating an email template that is compatible with almost any email client (Gmail, Outlook, etc):

  1. If you have coding knowledge, be sure NOT to use margins
  2. Use “ “ (white space) instead of ‘ ’
  3. Use images instead of text
  4. Less details, more links
  5. Even though MailChimp will scale down images for you, you need to make the image size the same as the container size to avoid inconsistencies when sending to multiple email clients.

What other options are there?

If you don’t think MailChimp is for you, don’t worry. There are a lot of email marketing software options although most others do not have a free version like MailChimp. These are some of the others I’ve used or currently use:

  1. SendPulse (https://sendpulse.com/)
    • Has a survey management system that can help us collect responses from our clients to know what they’re interested in.
  1. AWeber (https://www.aweber.com/)
    • Has a Spam check that will let us know if our email may be considered spam before we send it.
  1. Infusionsoft (https://www.infusionsoft.com/)
    • Great email marketing software. It has powerful analytics, a baked-in CRM, campaign builder and an e-commerce platform. This is what we use at 2Stallions and it’s very powerful and works great!

If you’re already using email marketing software and are wondering what’s next or how to optimize your business further – a marketing automation software may be what your business is looking for. Read Why Big Brands Rely On Marketing Automation To Do The Heavy Lifting to learn more about the benefits of automation.

Want to know more about email marketing? Subscribe and we will share more such interesting content with you in the future.

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