Superspeed Me – An Easy Guide To Speeding Up Your Website

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Down with King Content – long live user experience!!  The new focus on user experience is coming ever more sharply into the everyday lives of webmasters – and you could be forgiven for thinking that the world of image compression, CDN’s, and theme optimisation is well beyond you.

However, it’s easier than you might think to give your site a bit of a “superspeed” makeover!

Super Easy CDN and Website Protection

We’ve all heard about Content Delivery Networks and cloud servers and similar and many of you may think that implementing one is beyond you. However fear not, the good people at Cloud Flare are riding to your rescue with their FREE CDN.  This system has a five minute install that just about anyone can implement and will not only superspeed your site but also protect it from internet bastards and vagabonds (as I like to call them).

Using data from Project Honeypot it protects your site against spammers, hackers, and other ratbags. I have implemented Cloud Flare on one of my sites and it has halved the download speed. So far this month it has saved my users on one small site 20.7 hours waiting for my pages to load, which also saves me bandwidth.

You can find out more about all the features offered by Cloud Flare on their comprehensive Tour Page.

Get A Speed Monitoring Plugin For Your Browser…

The Firebug plugin lets you use a whole wealth of web development and debug tools as you surf the net using Firefox. On it’s own I find it very handy to nosey around other people’s source code. If you’re interested in how someone’s done something or want to check out an element of your own site without trawling through code, it’s great. You just right click on the bit you want to look at and select “inspect element”. It’s a great everyday timesaver for me.

You can then grab the Site Speed Addon from Google. Given that these are the guys we’re all trying to impress it seems sensible to refine site performance by their standards. There’s also a Chrome Addon. You can access their widget directly through your browser without any addons here.

This cool little tool gives your site performance marks out of 100 and a great big “to do” list. It also has a feature to show you versions of your images which are “losslessly compressed”. You can just save these and upload to your site for improved performance.

My own worst site had a rather dreadful score of 44 / 100 – which we very quickly got up to a 93 / 100 with the help of the Firebug site speed addon.

WordPress Site Speed Plugins and Wizardry

If you have a WordPress site you can do all of the above… and also make use of some handy WordPress resources!

First of all, read Yoast’s Guide to Speeding Up WordPress. He mentions you should install a caching plugin. I use W3 Total Cache which was recommended to me by my hosting company, Clook. I’ve found it to be excellent and regularly updated. It’s recently been updated for better compatibility with Cloud Flare and Yoast’s SEO Plugin. Whilst you’re giving your site a bit of a makeover do download and use this if you haven’t already – I think it’s the absolute dogs danglies and it does all the little SEO tasks that are too easy to forget about when setting up a site.

Don’t forget to grab an image compression plugin – Smushit is from the same guys who created W3 Supercache and is a great tool to squeeze that extra efficiency out of your web pages.

That’s pretty much everything I’ve personally used recently – if any of you guys have anything to add to this resource please post in the comments below – I’d love you to add your own hints and tips!

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9 Responses to “Superspeed Me – An Easy Guide To Speeding Up Your Website”

  1. Adrian Says:

    Great post Kirsty. Just been looking into site speed but hadn’t heard of Cloud Fare. Distilled also did a nice piece on site speed – http://www.distilled.net/blog/seo/site-speed-for-dummies-part-2-%E2%80%93-how-to-do-it/ – but your’s looks more manageable for now :)

  2. Thomas Heaney Says:

    Great post Kirsty, page load optimisation is something that hasn’t in general had as much coverage as it deserves.

    I have done quite a bit of work on some fairly high traffic travel sites in the past (I’m a Web Developer in my day job) and found Yahoo’s optimisation tool, (http://developer.yahoo.com/yslow/), to be invaluable. It also includes Smushit as well as tools to minify CSS and JavaScript.

    I’d also advise using HTML that validates and doesn’t contain unnecessary elements live nested div’s or table for layout. This can cause performance issues, especially on mobile devices that don’t have as powerful a processor.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. Kirsty Says:

    Thanks guys, I’m glad you like it! I’m not posting much right now due to the amount of brain power being spent re-working all my sites but I am trying to post about the things I’ve found out about or done to my sites as I go through the process.

    Thanks also for those extra tips, much appreciated!

  4. Mike Says:

    Hi Kirsty,

    Yet another great post with resources for both newbies and the expert affiliates. I always liked the idea of speeding up the website, to ensure that you aren’t giving reasons to users (and Google) to look for products somewhere else. Especially when you’ve done a lot of hard work in making your website rank on some really competitive keywords.

    But I’d be interested to know more about its negative impact on the SEO rankings? If there are any.

    Also, does “cloud computing” or “cloud sharing” causes any problems due to different ips allocated to different servers or m I confusing it too much.

    Good to see you posting again. :)

  5. Dave Says:

    Thanks for the great tips on how to improve site speed, just seems to keep getting harder for affiliate based sites to please Google these days.

    I see you said you’re using your own plugin for datafeeds now but could you share how you implemented datafeeds with wordpress before having the plugin created?

    Sounds like it shouldn’t be too difficult but I seem to be having trouble finding a straight forward guide on how to do it.

  6. acrucia Says:

    Cheers kirsty.

    I’d also recommend placing images on a sub domain or different domain. That way your server is not appending a cookie to the image. It’s something i’ve been reading about.

    Look at sprite’s to reduce the amount of images being loaded. Spriteme saves some time.

  7. Chris Says:

    Cloudflare is a neat utility that I’ve been using for a few weeks. One thing definately worthy of note is Section 7 of their T&Cs;

    Did any one read their TOS? Because it says this


    SECTION 7: YOUR CONTENT

    SECTION 7: YOUR CONTENT
    Depending on the features you select, CloudFlare may modify the content of your site.

    3. Add tracking codes or affiliate codes to links that do not previously have tracking or affiliate codes.

    Not sure how this interacts with other services such as Skimlinks, that adds affiliate links on your behalf in content.

  8. Kirsty Says:

    Dave – That’s more Duncan’s department than mine I’m afraid. What we were using wasn’t terribly sophisticated but I’ll get around to doing a basic guide eventually!

    acrucia – Some interesting points there – I’ll investigate them further :)

    Chris – goodness me. That’s not terribly transparent, bit of a worry. Must investigate to see if that’s for the free version. Been thinking of upgrading to the paid version.

  9. Stuart Says:

    After reading your post and seeing how fast your sites load now i was all set to sign up for Cloudflare as well but Chris’s comment knocked me back a bit as i dare say it did you. I’ve been doing a little digging around and someone from Cloudflare has responded regarding this issue here

    It seems they only implement the adding of affiliate links if you have the outbound links feature enabled, so all might not be lost. Do you know what this feature is and what it does aside from adding links?

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