If you are curious why your blog site speed can hurt you and how to fix it, this is the episode for you. I’m talking to David, my husband, business partner, and tech extraordinaire to break site speed down.
Welcome to The Blogger Genius Podcast brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.
Jillian Leslie 0:17
Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the show. Before I start, I wanted to explain the MiloTree umbrella and how we can help you grow your business.
So first, if you haven’t started a blog yet and you’re thinking about it, but don’t know how to do it, don’t want to do it, let us do it.
If you head to MiloTree.com/BlogStart, we will set up your WordPress blog for you. We will optimize it so you will be starting on the right foot. And then, we’re always available for technical questions, that kind of thing.
In addition to that, we have our MiloTree pop-up. So once you have your blog, you install the pop up on your blog, and it will ask your visitors to follow you on social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube. You can use it to grow your email list.
And we just rolled out our custom pop-up that you can link to anything. You can link it to a piece of content, like a piece of sponsored content. Or you could link it to a store. Or you could link it to a landing page. Anywhere you want to send your visitors, you can use this pop-up on your site.
And then the third thing we offer is our coaching group where David and I help bloggers/entrepreneurs jumpstart their businesses. Right now, we’re in our first six-week coaching group but we will be opening this up again for our next cohort.
If you are feeling stuck in your business or you feel like you’re spinning your wheels or spending money and not getting the results you are looking for, let us help you. Let us teach you what we know.
Let us teach you all the cutting edge strategies that we put in place that I know that I talked to my guests about. So that is something to keep in mind for you because our job, our goal is to support you.
And one final thing. If you are enjoying the podcast, please join my Facebook group. It’s a wonderful community of like-minded entrepreneurs. You can find it on Facebook, the MiloTree Mastermind group. I would love to have you in there.
Those are all of the pieces to our MiloTree umbrella, as I like to call it. And really, it’s only because of you.
It’s really because we’ve built businesses and now we want to help empower entrepreneurs and make their path a little easier so that you entrepreneurs can live your dream. That’s it. That’s as simple as that.
So today, I have David, my husband, my business partner, my favorite technologist on the podcast. We are talking about site speed. Site speed is something every online entrepreneur needs to understand. It’s incredibly important if you want to get traffic to your site.
We go through some strategies that you can put in place to help with your site speed. I think you’re going to find this really interesting. This is actually David’s first appearance on the podcast.
He supports me all behind the scenes. And I finally said we have to be talking about this. So without further delay here is David, my husband, and the smartest person I know.
David, welcome to the show.
Glad to finally be here.
Jillian Leslie 4:10
All right. Today, we are talking about site speed. People talk about it a lot. I don’t think people necessarily understand what it is or why it is important for bloggers.
Well, the main reason you want to care about it, I think what it is, is how fast is your page load? It’s pretty simple. You want to care for two reasons.
First, because you care about the experience your users have when they come visit your site. And that I think, is the most important reason.
And then secondarily, site speed is at some level, you know, no one knows how much a factor in how Google will judge your site.
Jillian Leslie 4:48
So that it shows up in search.
Potentially there is some benefit in SEO.
Jillian Leslie 4:53
Okay. So if somebody is thinking about their site speed, what is the first thing they should do?
I think the first thing you need to do is look at it from your users’ point of view, which is literally with your own eyes, which is go to your site and does it feel slow?
There are synthetic benchmarks, you know, tools you can use to measure. They’re useful in identifying problems but I don’t recommend starting there. I actually recommend starting with your own eyes and trusting yourself.
One pitfall I think you can fall into is sitting at home, maybe have a fast internet connection. I know we do here. So we’re sitting here with a fast internet connection on a desktop.
And sometimes pages could feel fast, but that isn’t representative of what your users might be experiencing on their phone out in the world on slower connections.
Jillian Leslie 5:51
So like go to Starbucks and get on your phone and go to your site?
Go to Starbucks but don’t get on their WiFi. Try it out actually on your phone. Just using your cell connection. See what that feels like.
Do try from your desktop too. If it’s slow, if your page feels like it’s slow at home and in the optimal circumstance, then you know that you’ve got work to do.
Jillian Leslie 6:18
Okay. And so, what kind of work?
Well, what I would say is, you know, go to your site. Are things coming in slowly? Do you have a big banner image at the top of your blog and you’re kind of watching it slowly fill in? Can you scroll?
If you go to a page and it kind of feels like it’s frozen there for 30-40 seconds. Those are the big problems you want to be aware of.
Jillian Leslie 6:50
Let’s talk about then easy fixes that you can do to speed up your site.
Regardless of whether you feel like your site is fast or not, you might as well kind of go through some best practices.
There are two sides to page speed. There is the server-side page speed. That is how fast does your WordPress or if you’re not using WordPress, whatever your content management system is.
Jillian Leslie 7:43
Okay, like a bucket of assets?
Yes. So when you go to a web page, your browser makes a request to your web host and says give me this page. And what they sent back is the HTML document. So like the text you wrote about, you know, your content.
And in there is a list of all the assets that need to be loaded to show the page. Those are your photos, DCSS, Java.
Jillian Leslie 8:11
Okay. So this is let’s say, chocolate chip cookie recipe. I got photos, videos. My text is about this is my mom’s chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Some cool fonts too. So your title looks funky. Like all those things. So the two sides, like how long does it take for WordPress on your web host to come back with that list of assets.
Jillian Leslie 8:39
Okay, and that’s your host.
That’s your host. So things that affect the speed. There are the quality of your host, right? Like if you’re on a post, sharing the server with a bunch of other sites can be slower.
Jillian Leslie 8:54
Okay. By the way, we have certain hosts that we really like. One is Siteground. Another is the VP Engine. If you want, you can always email us at Jillian@MiloTree.com and we’ll let you know what we think of your host because certain ones are definitely better than others.
One thing to look out for. If you’re with a host that’s charging you $299 a month, chances are…
Higher risk of that means slow.
Jillian Leslie 9:18
Okay. Okay, so we got the host side.
Let’s just stay on the host side.
Jillian Leslie 9:22
One tool to help you here and it can be extremely effective, which is a cache plugin. What cache means is for each page on your site, it will generate that bundle for you.
Jillian Leslie 9:44
So kind of takes like a snapshot.
Snapshot. It keeps a copy. So every time a different person makes a request, they get a copy.
Jillian Leslie 9:52
Got it. It’s already loaded. Like preloaded.
Jillian Leslie 9:55
And by the way, I just have to say cache is a word you’re going to see and it is spelled c-a-c-h-e. That’s cache. And it kind of means – I don’t know what it means, but it’s like a snapshot.
It is a copy.
Jillian Leslie 10:08
A copy or a snapshot.
Jillian Leslie 10:10
So using something like a…
Right. For example, ourselves, we use WP Rocket.
Jillian Leslie 10:17
And we like it.
We like it. It’s a paid plugin.
Jillian Leslie 10:21
It does the snapshotting for you, but has a series of other tools that will help on the other side of what we’re talking about, which is loading the other assets.
Jillian Leslie 10:32
Okay, so wait. So the one thing though, if you use a plugin like this, the one thing you need to know how to do is what’s called pop your cash, which means clear it out so that it takes another photo, let’s say of your assets.
Right. You go in. You update your blog. You make a change. If you’re not seeing it reflected, it’s because your blog is still delivering the copy, not the new version.
Jillian Leslie 10:55
Right. Sometimes like the MiloTree situation, sometimes somebody will go in and make a change to their MiloTree pop-up. Now, we cache it on our end because we want MiloTree to work really fast.
Sometimes it usually takes about an hour to show that change on somebody’s blog. But then we run into that other situation where somebody says, “Oh my God, I updated it yesterday and I’m not seeing it.”
And then we look at their site and go, “Oh, you’ve got a cache plugin, pop your cache.” And then it will show. So that’s one thing you need to know with a cache plugin is how to kind of get it to start all over again.
Anyway, they’re like 99% upside.
Jillian Leslie 11:36
Okay. So you recommend it?
Yeah, some of the higher end hosts have some cache built in. But even then, there are some benefits potentially to using the plugins.
Jillian Leslie 11:46
Okay. And so now, what are some other things that people can do that are relatively like low hanging fruit?
So we’ve been talking about the server-side. And cache, that could solve a lot of your problems there. On the other side is, okay, now, we’ve delivered this copy, this cache copy of your page.
Jillian Leslie 12:24
Okay. What do you recommend?
One easy option is to optimize your images. Images can take up a lot of time downloading.
Jillian Leslie 12:35
Okay. And this is the files. This is not the pixel.
Well, image size, it’s not the height and width of your image. It is the kilobytes, the file size.
Jillian Leslie 12:43
Okay. And so, how can somebody optimize their photos easily?
The easiest thing is a plugin. There are some good free ones like Smush. WP Smush is created by WordPress.
Jillian Leslie 12:59
Okay. And it will automatically…
It’ll automatically optimize your images.
Jillian Leslie 13:05
Okay. So you don’t have to worry about it.
Jillian Leslie 13:07
So back in the day, you’d have to go into Photoshop and save your files. I don’t know. Somehow, they were smaller.
For web, yeah.
Jillian Leslie 13:16
Right. And now you can just use this plugin? It’s free?
Jillian Leslie 13:20
Oh, that’s really cool. Okay. Let’s say I’ve gone to my site. I think it might be slow but I want to check it. Are there ways to check my site speed?
Right. Well, again, you check the eyeballs first. It feels slow.
Jillian Leslie 13:36
Now, I want to find out what’s going on.
Right. So there are some tools that you can use. GT Metrics is one.
Jillian Leslie 13:42
GT Metric. Can you spell that?
Jillian Leslie 13:46
And then Google Page Speed is the other one. I would recommend those two.
Jillian Leslie 13:51
And you literally search for Google Page Speed.
Jillian Leslie 13:54
Okay. And you type your URL into both of these?
Jillian Leslie 13:57
And what happens?
It will load your page. It will analyze it. And then, it will identify things that are slow.
Jillian Leslie 14:05
Okay. These plugins can slow down your site.
Basically everything. Every single thing you add to your page, even if it’s another word or paragraph in your text is going to add a little bit more into the overall file size.
The truth is, an extra word is not going to be much, but an extra photo could be another second, another half second.
Jillian Leslie 14:30
Okay, so that is something that we recommend. So back in the day, you would do your chocolate chip cookie recipe, and you would take 50 photos. I don’t know about you, but like, I’d fall in love with all my photos and want to put them all in my post.
And now, I step back and I say, is this photo really necessary? I don’t necessarily need to show the same kind of photo from a slightly different angle. I’m very specific and particular about the photos I add to make sure they’re worth it.
Right. And there are ways to mitigate loading a lot of photos, which is to only load the photos that the user sees, right? So you go to the page. You’re going to have to scroll down to view images. So those images, you can set it so those images won’t load until you scroll down.
Jillian Leslie 15:19
Oh, interesting. And how do you do that?
Jillian Leslie 15:22
Okay. So plugins are both good and bad. I have to talk about MiloTree for a second. David has worked really hard at optimizing MiloTree. MiloTree is adding something to your site.
We can’t say it’s not going to have any effect on site speed, but it will have a very very minimal effect on site speed.
There are a lot of best practices around adding things to your site.
Jillian Leslie 15:50
And we do those.
Right. With MiloTree, you can load scripts at the bottom of the page instead of the top. We do that. You can load things asynchronously.
Jillian Leslie 16:00
And that means?
That means the page won’t stop loading while it’s loading your asset.
Jillian Leslie 16:09
Got it. So it’s like loading it almost in the background.
In the background.
Jillian Leslie 16:12
Okay. And so, you can trust us when we say we think a tremendous amount about site speed when it comes to MiloTree. But a lot of plugins can be clunky and big and heavy and slow your site down.
So when you go to a site like GT Metrics…
Or Google Page Speed. It’ll call it out. And the things you would really want to look for first are things that it says are blocking.
Jillian Leslie 16:37
Okay. What does that mean?
That means when your browser gets that list of assets in the bundle, and it comes to one that blocks, it means it stops everything else until it can load that.
Jillian Leslie 16:50
Got it. Okay. And so, those are the ones you want to think about possibly taking off your site.
Jillian Leslie 16:56
Okay. Now, let’s talk about ads. Because, again, we show ads on Catch My Party, our other site. What is your feeling about ads and site speed?
Ads will inherently affect site speed probably more than anything else you’ve put on your page.
Jillian Leslie 17:13
Is that true? Wow! Is there any way you can optimize the ads?
There’s pretty much nothing you can do as an individual. You just have to have faith in your ad provider that they’re doing the best that they can.
Ultimately, then they are subject to the networks. And there are so many parties involved that someone in there is doing something that’s not particularly optimized inevitably.
Jillian Leslie 17:37
Okay. Okay. So again, it’s that double-edged sword of everything on your site. Even though your ads are making you money, they also could be affecting your performance and your bounce rate and your experience with Google.
Like everything on your blog is a miniature cost-benefit, right? Like I wouldn’t say don’t put ads on your blog because then you’re not going to make any money. So it’s worth the page speed cost to get the money for your ads.
Same with an image, right? I’m not going to say don’t put images on your blog because your users want images. They want to see pictures of your trip, of your recipe. Like, you could have a super-fast blog, no images, no ads…
Jillian Leslie 18:24
And no traffic.
Jillian Leslie 18:27
Great. Well, I feel like we have really, hopefully, talked about it in a way that is understandable. And some real easy ways to think about it, one, check your site with your own eyeballs.
Two, add some plugins like Smush, WP Rocket, or some sort of cache plugin. Hopefully, we’ve explained what cache is, and that you do need to know how to pop your cache or clear your cache. And that you think about the cost benefit.
Think about your user experience.
Jillian Leslie 19:06
Yeah. I would say that’s probably…
Live in the world of your user, of coming to your site fresh.
Jillian Leslie 19:12
Yes. And you know what you could always do? Get your mom to check your site and to tell you what she thinks. Get somebody who doesn’t understand technology.
Well, one thing I like to do is when you’re out in the mall, and there’s like an apple store or some store that has a computer, to just go to your website and see how it looks, see how it loads.
Jillian Leslie 19:31
That’s a good idea. All right, David. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I know you’ll be back talking about other technical things.
If you guys have questions, please reach out at Jillian@MiloTree.com or David@MiloTree.com.
I just want to say I think we scratched the surface on page speed.
Jillian Leslie 19:49
But do you think that we 80/20 it? Do you feel like if somebody takes this advice, unless they have some major problem?
I would say no. We got your foot in the door.
Jillian Leslie 20:06
Perfect. All right. So we are starting you on this journey. Well, Dave, thanks for coming on the show.
Glad to be here.
Jillian Leslie 20:14
I hope you saw that that wasn’t super scary, even as we got into technical stuff. David’s going to come back on the show to talk about other things you need to know as a blogger and an online entrepreneur.
If you have technical questions, reach out to me at Jillian@MiloTree.com or David@MiloTree.com. David and I together teach our coaching group.
I get to teach the marketing and content side. He gets to teach the technical stuff. I think together it’s a really good mix. If that’s interesting to you, please reach out to me. I’d love to hear from you.
Also, please join my Facebook group, the MiloTree Mastermind group. It is hopping over there. It’s just really fun. It’s a great community. And I will see you here again next week.
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