If you’re new here, let me tell you that I changed my Blog’s design to a new WordPress Theme 2-3 weeks ago. I loved the design, and I felt it was good for my readers.
It really is, because it’s getting more conversions and less distractions, but for some reason I started noticing less traffic with some posts I had well ranked before (read more about my search ranking experiment) and it was weird because I noticed my competition wasn’t doing anything at all.
Last week, I received my Market Samurai Ranking reports and here’s what I noticed:
Basically, you can see I dropped from many keywords I was ranking on and this started happening 2 weeks ago.
Of course there are some articles going up (green color) but most of them are only moving a few places, while the ones that dropped seemed to be outranked by 10 or even 50 places on search Engines. Bing decided to dissapear 2 articles I had already on the first page.
What is causing it?
Well, I only did 1 change on my website, and that was the overall design. The rest is almost intact, and while traffic is still growing because I’ve been writing more content and creating backlinks, the overall results for many articles are dropping. That can’t be good.
I also noticed my blog was taking a considerable time to load compared to when I was using a the Minimum Theme. Just the background took a lot more time (mili seconds) than the whole old design to load.
Could that be the reason?
So I quickly went to one of my favorite sites called Pingdom Tools and did a website load speed test to see the results. Here’s what I found:
My blog takes an average of 1.68 seconds to load (homepage) and the page size is 2.2MB.
Pingdom says my website has a Performance of 78/100 and is faster than 76% of the websites out there on the net. That’s good, isn’t it?
But I remembered the last time I took this test with the Minimum Theme my website was taking around 700 ms and the page size was about 900KB. In other words, my new design takes t 2 times more to load than before and the page size is almost 3 times bigger.
And this isn’t the worst escenario. If someone is visiting my blog from Europe or an Asian country (and boy they do!) my page load speed is:
It basically doubles the time to load even though the page size is still the same (2.2MB). So here’s what I did to fix it, and I’ll update you with my results in the following weeks. Keep in mind that it takes time to gain traction again, but I’m almost sure I’ll come back with good news in 2-4 weeks maximum.
Discover your Achilles Heel
How? Just by looking at the results on Pingdom Tools. Look for the things that are consuming more bandwidth and time to load on your blog. Pingdom Tools show you details like this:
Which tells me that one featured images on my homepage is 194KB long and if you see the little bar at the right, it takes a lot more to load than the thumbnail images. This is because I have a Featured article at the top of my homepage which is showing a bigger image than the rest. Originally, this image was 800KB.
Also, I found this:
This tells me that the lovely background I have on my website is 400KB long. But in fact, it was 950KB before I resized it.
At the end, I was able to lower my page size by 1.1MB, for a total of 1.1MB:
Now my blog is faster than 90% of the sites and the average load time (from a US server) is less than 1 second. I don’t know if it’s a placebo effect but I can actually feel my website loads faster now, especially the background, which I remember took a little more to appear on my computers.
The Easy way to increase your speed and reduce your page size
You can actually visit Google Page Speed Insights Tool and run a test with your website. Stream SEO scored 85/100 and Google created a Summary with the following recommendations to take action based on different priorities:
Google is kind enough to tell you which things to change and suggest easy actions to take based on what we’ve seen before (size, load time). So, if you don’t know where to start and you’re really confused about this theme, Google will help you decide.
As you can see, my high priority suggestion was to serve scaled images, which means I should resize my images to the actual width of my blog and only have big images if needed. Thus, I changed my featured images and banners and compressed them with Adobe Photoshop (you can do it with paint too, but not as much as with Photoshop). This is something Squarespace does wonderfully, so that you never have to worry about it anymore.
My Medium priority recommendation is to leverage browser caching and optimize images. I’m using W3 Total Cache on my WordPress installation to enhance this (shoved 200-300KB from my overall page size).
I take the risk, you get the results
So here’s another experiment I’m doing with you. As you can see, I already reduced my page size 50% (from 2.2MB to 1.1MB) and my load time from 1.7 seconds to 0.9 seconds.
I’ll keep my blog this way for a few weeks (2-4 maximum) and I’ll update the post to tell you the results (make sure to subscribe to my newsletter). If the following weeks I start watching an increase on my rankings and more traffic coming to my pages, I’ll let you know. I promise.
If that works, I might consider to go HARD on Photoshop and actually resize and optimize all the main images of my blog (I know some great tips), and I’ll write a detailed guide on how to squeeze 100% your W3 Total Cache Plugin to reduce your page load time and page size.
Hopefully, that will help me reduce my Page Size to less than 0.8MB and a load time of 0.7 seconds or less.
Again, if you feel like this post is useful for you and you’d like to follow my results, please share, pin, like (whatever) this post and I’ll talk to you later this week.
How fast is your blog? Leave a comment with your Page Size and Response time (select Dallas or New York server as default) and let’s see how many visitors you’re missing because of this (including bounce rate).