If you have a blog or website you’re surely aware of the importance of “white-hat” Search Engine Optimization (aka SEO).
After all, Google is a primary source of targeted traffic, which is the life-blood of any successful website.
Technical optimization (technical SEO) of a WordPress site is a term that perhaps isn’t used very often, but it’s very important. And if done properly, it can bring you very good results.
This term essentially represents various techniques that aim to increase the speed, stability, and responsiveness of the website, which ultimately leads to better Google rank, more traffic and better satisfied visitors.
If you can provide your visitors with a good user experience (such as not forcing them to wait 10 seconds for the page to open) Google will reward you with more traffic and you’ll enjoy a better conversion rate on the site overall.
If you want to find out how optimized your website is at the moment you can test its page load speeds and optimization level with tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, Pingdom, and other website metrics evaluation tools.
Those tools will give you critical information about your site’s page load speeds and the degree of optimization along with specific tips that you can apply to improve on the measured numbers.
With the above info in mind, here are a few tips to help you technically optimize any WordPress-based blog or website:
1 – Reduce the number of installed plugins
Good optimization of a WordPress site is closely related to the number of plugins installed on the website.
One of the very important parameters that affect the loading speed of a website is the number of HTTP requests, i.e. requests that the browser sends to the server every time someone opens your website. These requirements represent various resources that your site uses to function, such as photos, fonts, external scripts, and the like.
Accordingly, it’s important to minimize the number of these elements. This doesn’t necessarily mean removing content from the site. You would be surprised how many different libraries and scripts, that aren’t used at all but are loaded, are on your site because you once installed a plugin that you have since deleted.
It’s important to use only those plugins that you really need and uninstall those that you don’t need.
There’s also a big difference between plugins that have the same functionalities because some are developed by serious and experienced developers, while others may be made by someone who’s just starting out or doesn’t take into account the speed and load level of the website.
Before choosing a plugin for a specific task, always look at the user experience and ratings of that plugin.
2 – Choose a quality theme and page builder
An important aspect that affects the speed of your WordPress site is the theme you use. Many themes, especially those that offer a lot of “out of the box“ functions are cluttered and have large amounts of codes that allow these functions to work.
But if you don’t use these features, in most cases the code will definitely run, which overloads a website, leads to a large number of HTML processes/requirements and page sizes, which ultimately results in worse and worse user experience, while Google itself won’t like such a website.
To avoid this, it’s important to use themes that are optimized for speed.
Some of the recommended themes are Genesis, Astra and OceanWP,all of which are really high quality and offer many options with minimal site overload.
When it comes to Page builders, our choices are Elementor Pro, Beaver, Visual Composer, etc.
3 – Choose the right web hosting service
Proper hosting is often a crucial element of website speed. You can have everything else optimized, but if you have bad hosting, the website will work slowly.
There are many companies that offer different hosting services. What you need if your site/blog runs on WordPress are hosting services and packages that are specifically optimized for WordPress sites. One of them is MySQL hosting which offers a comprehensive managed service (meaning that support that takes care of the stability and security of the server is always at your fingertips).
It also has very robust security as well as a backup system (no more sleepless nights because someone is trying to hack your site), as well as solutions for staging and one-click deployment, without which you won’t be able to live once you get used to them.
4 – Activate caching on the site
Caching is a popular way to save resources and speed up website work.
Simply put, caching is the generation of static files that will be displayed to visitors so that dynamic code doesn’t have to be executed on every visit.
This prevents queries from being sent again that pull information from the database, which puts a heavy load on the website.
There are several types of caching (page caching, browser caching, etc.), as well as several methods to activate it. If you use WordPress, you can use plugins like Hummingbird, which will offer you, in addition to caching, other ways to speed up the website.
5 – Optimize the photos used on your site
Most photos we upload to WordPress (including infographics) are in formats that allow additional compression without losing quality. This is especially noticeable on blogs and portals, which often have a significant amount of photos.
Photo optimization will allow you to save disk space, as well as improve the speed of your website, which will lead to better user experience and better PageSpeed score by Google, which is an important factor when ranking the website in a better or worse position in search results.
For example, plugins like WP Smush or reSmush allow you to save disk space, as well as speed up your website, thanks to their features for compression and optimization of photos.
6 – Protect your site from hacker attacks
Although it doesn’t directly speed up the website, protection is a very important aspect that you should by no means neglect.
Lately, many WordPress sites have been hit by so-called “backdoor“ attacks.
These attacks allow hackers to take control and use your WordPress site to place spam content, redirect to their own advertising links, or run mass e-mailing campaigns.
As a result, you can lose visitors and trust in your website but also the rank on Google.
The most common causes of these attacks are the use of pirated themes, as well as out-of-date versions of themes and plugins.
Since cleaning a website after a successful attack is a complicated and expensive process, it’s very important that you protect yourself against these threats at all times.
I use and recommend the free Wordfence plugin to secure my WordPress blogs, but great alternatives like Sucuri and WebARX are quite effective as well.
Installation and setup for these security plugins are typically fast and easy, and you’ll be able to sleep peacefully while they protect your website from hackers and malware.
7 – Create a sitemap
In a nutshell, a sitemap is a “roadmap“ of your website. Google XML Sitemaps is probably the most useful SEO plugin for WordPress. This plugin helps search engines, such as Google or Bing, to better index your websites thanks to the XML file that search engines read.
When you activate the plugin, it will automatically create an XML sitemap for your website, which will make indexing easier.
A sitemap allows search engine robots to have an insight into the complete structure of your website, thus accessing the pages more efficiently and easily.
8 – Update plugins and themes regularly and make frequent backups of your site
Updating is a very important aspect of maintaining any WordPress site. By regularly updating all plugins and themes, you ensure not only protection against attacks, but also the improvement of the speed and functioning of the website.
Before each update, it’s advisable to make a backup of the website, because it can happen that a certain update “breaks“ the website. In that case, you’re backed up until you solve the problem through a staging copy or some other way.
This article has covered a lot of basic website SEO techniques. There are also many advanced techniques such as minification, per-page defined resource loading, and the like.
However, simply applying the above techniques could significantly improve the operation and functioning of your blog.
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