Future-proof your web business with mobile-first speed to avoid traffic decline.

Updated: November 2018
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INTERNATIONAL SITE OWNERS: Get under 2-second load time on cheap, shared magnetic hosting. No CDN cheating. And still use dozens of free WordPress plugins!

Is your site traffic declining? Speed and mobile strategy will improve your user’s experience. And “potentially” SEO. Other things influence traffic most. The biggest factors are content relevance – or economic conditions that create “need or motive.” This is frequently referred to as “market pain.”

Analyzing the popularity of your posts and pages is a good idea. You can drop or merge up to 20 to 30 percent of your site’s worst visited pages. This does more for better quality traffic than speed improvements.

Are you serving old-school, fixed-width web pages? Then at least 40 percent of viewers are having a bad user experience. When pages aren’t responsive and dynamic for small screens, we promise, it’s not good. Speed is secondary to that flaw for mobile. Making site changes to new faster, responsive pages, doesn’t yield immediate results. You must be patient. Making a site responsive and fast is a long-term investment. It future-proofs your web business.

There is no Google SEO improvement worth mentioning from making speed improvements. Honest! Their algorithm only takes into consideration less than 0.5 percent for TTFB. That’s all. They don’t even use their own PageSpeed test criteria. The irony. TTFB is something you pay for with your hosting. It has nothing to do with efficient, quality site construction.

Do you have expectations of SEO improvement from speed? Be aware it’s a myth spun by Google to manipulate web designers and developers. Google has their own ivory-tower, change-the-world agenda for bettering advertising revenue. But that’s another story (rant?). We’re all caught in the Google riptide.

Relevant content for good SEO.
Fast speed for good UX.

Our speed strategy is having subordinate pages and posts load in under 2 seconds. We measure with Pingdom.com testing. Your more important pages (like a 50-percent-of-traffic homepage) need to be much faster. How much faster? Well, 1 second would be wonderful. Subsecond fantastic.

Fast speeds are difficult with a Home-page slideshow and third-party advertising. Disappointed? Sorry. Speed is usually about compromises.

How high is your anxiety level about traffic dropping? How would it affect your income? A drop of disinterested, unqualified leads is immaterial. It only counts if it influenced your income. A 50-percent traffic drop may only reduce income by 10 percent. What’s the damage estimate?

OK. So you have third-party ads. Any ads cause severe distress for speed. This is because we lose control over ads hosted on another server. We can’t cache the ads or use CDNs. They cause unpredictable load time delays. Ads are a necessary evil to make money. But not all ad suppliers are created equal. Some serve their ads faster than others. You must make business judgments. But eliminating the “noise” as much as possible helps with reducing load time. Only you as a business owner can make those value decisions.

Our recommendation is usually to remove all comments from WordPress. They don’t help SEO enough. But our opinion isn’t a hard and fast ruling. If you have a reason to keep comments onsite, it may have justification. Here’s our article:

READ: Does Akismet plugin help or hinder WordPress page speed

One reason to keep Facebook is comment-spam management. Spam volume can be horrific and loads down your server resources. That affects page speed.

With good image optimization, large images can be 10 times lighter weight. Not 10X faster but better anyway. Image presentation with slideshows (sliders) is inferior for speed. But strategic workarounds help. Sliders are not as cool as site owners think. And not only because of speed problems.

Handle future image optimization with automated plugin solutions. Some of the better ones are even free. Cutting down the number and dimensions of images is the main trick. That and using an image lazy-load plugin.

READ: http://pagepipe.com/what-slider-is-the-fastest-loading/

If a key competitor’s site is mobile responsive and yours is not, that’s their biggest advantage – not speed. Page speeds of under 2 seconds for first visits are good performance goals for your site. WebPagetest.org – a test owned by Google – is a good site for worst-case scenario speed testing.

Internet average page weight is 2.3M. Not fast pages – average pages. A few image loading tricks help. Visually-lossless compression for JPEG images is the goal. Optimization pre-testing will show images often are 10 times bigger than needed. If you’ve been conservative – it’s costing you speed. These “fat” images are usually in sliders, headers, and featured images.

HTTPS / SSL is the worst thing Google ever forced upon the web for poor speed. It doesn’t make your site secure. It only encodes transmissions. Your site can still be hacked or pirated. They’ve caused an unnecessary panic for compliance. All pages slow down by around 500 milliseconds with HTTPS / SSL. Even Google’s home page is now slower and they don’t have any e-commerce on the page. Ridiculous! Grr!

Google is not our friend when it comes to their edicts. We should definitely liberate ourselves from HTTPS / SSL costs and speed deterioration. Google is using terror tactics. They claim it will affect SEO. There is zero proof. Relevant content affects SEO. There’s no SEO benefit whatsoever from SSL. Another web myth.

Many are using LetsEncrypt for the HTTPS / SSL certificates. It’s not a plugin. That’s a free service/code a developer must install on the host. It’s faster than some alternatives. But eliminating it completely is better for mobile speed. Installing HTTPS / SSL is not something we do or recommend.

READ: http://pagepipe.com/httpsssl-and-its-negative-impact-on-mobile-speed/

All third-party scripts affect speed a lot. We add helpful plugins to do lazy loading of Vimeo and YouTube. Widget links (APIs and third-party scripts) are always bad for speed. If you keep Facebook, use a static image link instead of a scripted widget. Much faster. Same with Twitter.

Google Maps is heavy. If you use Google Maps, use creative workarounds. But our recommendation for mobile is avoiding Google Maps at all costs. Very slow.

There are various ways to manage email signups. It could be simple or complex. MailChimp can be fast. But sometimes people use the wrong plugins and slow down the entire site.

READ: http://pagepipe.com/is-mailchimp-a-good-choice-for-speed/

Linode hosting is usually very fast. We mean the fastest we’ve seen with TTFB of less than 100 milliseconds in some cases.

Please. Do not move your hosting to SiteGround! Every client who used them had problems with mobile speed because of random, wild TTFB.

READ: http://pagepipe.com/sitegrounds-feeble-explanation-of-bad-ttfb-for-hosted-wordpress-sites/

You can improve your web projects with speed strategy information. Or we can do actual speed optimization (hands-on). For that, we need WordPress administrator access to your site. In other words, we can do either before or after work – aka tweaking (speed strategy vs speed repair)

The strategy focuses on value analysis and avoiding or offloading heavy site features. Our approach uses creative workarounds. Speed skills get better performance for your business objectives.

OFFSITE LINK: Customers-are-increasingly-mobile-first-yet-mobile-websites-are-sending-visitors-away

Godspeed—

Steve Teare
performance engineer

Mobile WordPress Speed – without coding!

What others think of us:


... Facebook Mastermind Group just referenced your blog in talking about WP themes ... Best quote he said, "Here's an interesting site on WordPress speed: PagePipe.com. Warning: he's got some controversial ideas." Thought you’d like that! Lilypad Media LLC, North Carolina, USA

- Kurt Perschke

How expressive and classic design aesthetic affect mobile speed.
Fix WordPress plugins and PHP brokenness.