Your website is ground zero for all of your online marketing. Whether you are using video, social media, adwords - you name it, everything points back to your website to convert visitors into customers. However, if your site isn't performing at it's peak, then you maybe losing sales. Here are some great tips to make sure you are getting the maximum potential out of your WordPress site.
Optimizing Your WordPress Site
There are a lot of factors that come into play when optimizing your site not only for search engines, but customers as well. As search engines become smarter, it does get a little easier to combine your optimization efforts to please both.
If you have followed any of our posts on Web Design, you know that we have been mentioning for awhile that your site needs to load fast. If your site doesn't load in just a couple of seconds, users will hit the back button to go to another site. Site load speed is also a ranking factor in search engines. So making sure your site loads fast is probably one of the biggest factors in getting the most out of your site. To learn more about how to make your site load faster, see our post "Speed Up Your Site For Better Rankings And UX".
The next thing that must be mentioned is hosting. If you have your site on subpar host, then your site will be lacking. In fact it can hurt not only your site load speed, but user engagement as well. "How" you may ask? Well this was just covered in an article by Chris Garret on CopyBlogger and his tenth point:
Hosting with a company that prevents or punishes your success
This last one will catch you by surprise at the worst moment.
You get your 15 minutes (or 15,000 visitors) of fame, only for your host to tell you … nope! Not on their watch.
They shut you down.
There it is, in the fine print of your hosting contract … you’re only allowed a certain number of visitors or so much bandwidth … which means all your new prospects land on a page that says your website is down.
It’s smart to keep your costs manageable when you’re starting out, but losing potential customers because of penny-pinching isn’t so smart.
If you currently have cheap “hobby” hosting, you need to ask yourself:
How many clients or customers can I afford to lose to a bad web experience?
Read Chris' full article "10 Often Overlooked Website Mistakes that May Harm Your Business"
It's a great point from Chris. We like how he makes the connection between cheap hosting and "hobby" hosting. It's true. You need to stop and ask yourself if it's worth saving a few hundred dollars a year on hosting costs that could literally be costing your business tens of thousands of dollars in sales due to a slow loading site or not loading because of exceeding your monthly bandwidth. Are you running a business, or is it just a hobby??
Next we move onto more things on your WordPress site itself. We have covered about how important it is to keep your site's themes and plugins updated. "Is Your Website At Risk Of Being Hacked" explains how important these updates are in keeping your site secure. Sometimes these updates can also lead to how well your site performs, or doesn't.
But what about your site's database and links? One of our favorite writers, Colin Newcomer, just made a post on WPKube that covers this:
Clean and Optimize Your Database
When you first install WordPress, your database starts off so clean and tiny. But as you start “living” in your site, your database starts picking up all kinds of junk. It’s like dust in your house. You didn’t do anything to “cause” the dust…but it still accumulates and makes everything look dirty.
Posts revisions, transients, table overhead, spam comments, and more do that to your database. Each individual database entry isn’t a big deal…but combined (like those specks of dust), they can make your site a big sluggish.
Thankfully, they’re easy to clean up. All you need to do is run a plugin like WP-Sweep. Nothing to configure – just install, head to Tools → Sweep and clean up your various tables:
You can also Sweep All at the bottom of the page – though I don’t recommend it because you might wipe out your drafts. It’s usually better to go through each category individually to ensure you don’t remove important information.
Check for Broken Internal and External Links
Broken links are bad for user experience and, to a lesser extent, SEO. They make it harder for humans to use your site and robots to crawl your site. They’re difficult to find manually…but with the right tool (Broken Link Checker), you can instantly sniff out every single broken link on your WordPress site.
While the plugin does have some advanced settings, for most sites, you can just install it and head to Tools → Broken Links:
You can hover over each link to quickly edit it or remove the link.
Because some people say that Broken Link Checker can slow down the wp-admin dashboard, I recommend only enabling the plugin specifically when you want to check for broken links.
Read Colin's Full Article "9 WordPress Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Site Running Smoothly"
Those are some really good tips. However, before adding any plugins to your site, make sure you back it up first as they may conflict with others and cause the dreaded "white screen of death". We would also advise that with both of these plugins you deactivate them when not in use as Colin points out with Broken Link Checker. This brings us to our last point -
One of the greatest things about WordPress are the plugins. There are thousands of them. What you must remember is that "the more the better" rule DOES NOT apply here. Too many plugins will slow down your site, while some plugins are hogs and can really slow things down. As a general rule, we try and stay away from "Swiss Army Knife" plugins that do "everything" for you as they tend to be the worst. Also, the more plugins you are running the greater your chances of having a conflict resulting in again the "white screen of death" or the site not functioning properly leading to poor user experience.
Try and use the minimum amount of plugins as possible to get your needs done. It's a good idea to regularly check your plugins and if you are not using them, deactivate and uninstall to keep from slowing down your site and minimize the risk of plugin conflict.
Summing It Up
Getting optimum performance from your website really starts with your hosting. With a low cost hosting provider you may be saving a few bucks, but losing thousands in lost revenue due to customers leaving your site before they even see it. Try and use the plugins that Colin recommends to clean up your database and links. Cleaning your database will mostly only benefit your load times, but broken links can not only impact rankings, but user experience as well. Just these few things can have a real impact on how well your site performs.
If you need help with optimizing your website, need a website rebuild, or just need a web design service, visit us at MD Internet Marketing Solutions