Improve Website Speed 2

Improving Website Speed For WordPress Part 2 – Interview With Joe Anderson – 044

Joe Anderson of Metaphor Creations is back for part 2 in our discussion about website speed and optimization. We’ll go over page caching for your website, to understand how a cache works, and how using a page cache plugin can speed up your website. We’ll also dig into plugins, for what makes them great and what makes them dangerous! Keep your site running smoothly by following these best practices and helpful tips.

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YOU’LL LEARN

  • What caching is and how to use caching on your website
  • Use page caching to make future visits to your web page very fast for users
  • Use WordPress plugins to minimize your script and make your site load faster
  • Using minimizing plugins can help but you must be careful and test your site afterwards
  • When choosing plugins for WordPress make sure you choose quality plugins from known developers
  • If plugins are making your website slow, you can disable plugins to determine the culprit
  • Keeping your plugins updated will ensure your site is free of errors eliminates security holes

Here is the transcription from Episode 44 Improving Website Speed For WordPress With Joe Anderson Part 2;

Jesse Dolan: Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics where each week we bring you tips and tricks on how to help your business grow and get found online. I’m your host, Jesse Dolan, back here with our second part of our interview with Joe Anderson, Joe Anderson with Metaphor Creations is joining us here to talk about site speed, WordPress site speed, plugin bloat, things you can do to speed up your website, things you want to avoid that will slow down your website, and that’s the second part of our two part interview. If you haven’t checked out Episode 43 definitely go back and check that out. It’s the first part of this interview. Here today we’re getting into the second half, and if you’re not familiar with who Joe Anderson of Metaphor Creations is, also go back and check out Episode 39 on our show. We talked about plugins, WordPress plugins, some good practices, things to avoid and Joe is a very important part of what we do here at Intrycks and Local SEO Tactics. Super smart, very talented guy, really helps us on a lot of our backend WordPress development, plugin development, things like that. Lots of great content with Joe. Let’s dive right back in and get to the second part of our episode here. Without any further delay.

Another thing that you’re going to want to do is caching your website. So I don’t know if it’s like service side, it’s client side. Do you want to breaking that down?

Joe Anderson: Yeah. Well there’s different types of caching. One of the, the main type of caching that you want to use in your site is just a page cache.

Jesse Dolan: Okay.

Joe Anderson: And that does not come default with WordPress. There’s plenty of plugins out there that you can use to help cache your site. And what the caching does is it for most of these sites in WordPress and any site that isn’t just a static HTML webpage, there’s, your content is rendered through the code, through PHP, through JavaScript. So that all takes processing and you’re loading assets. And so a page cache will more or less take a screenshot, not a real screenshot, but you know, take a snapshot of your page, so when the next person comes and views that same page, it shows up nice and quick. It doesn’t have to go through all the rendering to re-render the page.

Jesse Dolan: Right.

Joe Anderson: So you set up these page cache plugins to cache the different pages of your site. You know, the first time somebody comes to the page, it may take a little bit longer than normal to load, but still hopefully not too slow.

Jesse Dolan: Right.

Joe Anderson: If you have things set up correctly, but then the next time you go to that page it’s basically instantaneous that it shows up.

Jesse Dolan: So like any element that was part of the initial load?

Joe Anderson: Yeah.

Jesse Dolan: Doesn’t reload essentially. I mean to its full extent, it’s much quicker.

Joe Anderson: Yeah, yeah. And most of the time with the plugin say for WordPress, if you make content changes to the page that’s been cached, it’ll flush the cache. So the next time somebody shows up, it will re-render it and then store that cache for the next time.

Jesse Dolan: So again just to reset, look in to your hosting, look into a CDN like CloudFlare, Page caching like WP Rockettes, which is a plugin for WordPress. There are also some other plugins that aren’t caching plugins that can help you speed up your website. Do you have a couple examples of that?

Joe Anderson: Yeah, well I’ll go back quickly to the caching.

Jesse Dolan: Oh, sure.

Joe Anderson: In addition to caching, there’s plugins that minimize scripts.

Jesse Dolan: Okay.

Joe Anderson: They take your page loads, you have maybe multiple style sheets being loaded, multiple JavaScript files, there’s plugins that’ll take and kind of squash them all into one bit of code because every single external asset that loads takes time on your server to load.

Jesse Dolan: Okay.

Joe Anderson: So it kind of compresses it into one file to load. I will have to say though, with the minimizing plugins, you do have potential to run into errors on your site because some scripts just don’t render well when they’re compressed and minimize and other things. So it’s worth a try, if you want to take that extra step to speed up your site a little bit.

Jesse Dolan: Okay.

Joe Anderson: Find a minimizing plugin or a plugin that combined scripts. But just be aware that you test out, make sure your site’s still running fine afterwards.

Jesse Dolan: Right.

Joe Anderson: Most of the time I actually don’t use them because I don’t feel like they add that much benefit.

Jesse Dolan: Kind of a risk reward.

Joe Anderson: Yeah.

Jesse Dolan: Okay. Now with that, so some people are like, well, I don’t have much script or these kinds of things even worry about. Is it fair to say that just for the average person out there managing their own WordPress, I mean WordPress is slick. I mean it’s in a lot of cases, one click install, sets it all up. Whether you know it or not, there’s a lot of style sheets and a lot of script and running it on those things, right?

Joe Anderson: Yeah. So going into WordPress plugins, I mean one thing that makes WordPress great is there’s a ton of plugins out there.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah.

Joe Anderson: There’s a ton of free ones that are awesome. There’s a ton of paid ones that are awesome.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah.

Joe Anderson: And I know one of the questions that most people have is how many plugins is too many, or I don’t want to use plugins because they slow down my site. How do I put this code directly into my theme? But one thing to realize is there’s really no limit to how many plugins you can have on your site.

Jesse Dolan: Right.

Joe Anderson: There’s no magic limit. What you want to be aware of is how well the plugin is written. If you have good code, a developer writes good code for your plugin, your site should run great.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah.

Joe Anderson: But there’s, with all the free plugins out there, there’s potential for a lot of bad code.

Jesse Dolan: Right.

Joe Anderson: That you may not even realize, you install it on your site thinking it’s going to do something awesome.

Jesse Dolan: Right.

Joe Anderson: But it affects your site negatively and all of a sudden your site starts loading slow and you’re not sure why. So always be sure when you do download plugins, especially if the WordPress repository, check out the ratings.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah.

Joe Anderson: You know, I know we talk about ratings a lot here on this podcast, not only for your business or buying products, but a plugin is no different.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah.

Joe Anderson: It’s basically a product. Check out the ratings, see how many active installations are, because you can see those stats.

Jesse Dolan: Right.

Joe Anderson: If there’s a ton of people who have this plugin installed on their site.

Jesse Dolan: Sure.

Joe Anderson: There obviously must be something right with it. You know, it doesn’t necessarily have to have a complete five star review because a lot of times people, user error.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah. It’s almost impossible.

Joe Anderson: Things don’t work quite right.

Jesse Dolan: You get north of 10 or 20 reviews, it’s almost impossible to have perfect five star.

Joe Anderson: Yeah, yeah. But I mean four to five star review and lots of active installations.

Jesse Dolan: Right.

Joe Anderson: That way you know people are using it and sticking with it and for the most part you can be pretty sure that the plugin runs fairly smoothly.

Jesse Dolan: I’m going to ask you a question on this. It’s a little bit off topic but it’s something I’ve kind of been curious about and I just want to ask you, because you are a developer and you are the other side of that panel. Like us as customers, like I said, we’re going to look at the reviews and check out the active installations,. Active installations. Does that mean how many people are right now using this on a website or just like total downloaded and applied ever? Is there a distinction there that you’re aware of or?

Joe Anderson: I don’t have a perfect answer for you.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah.

Joe Anderson: I’m assuming it is the number of sites that the plugin is actually installed on.

Jesse Dolan: Like legitimately installed on.

Joe Anderson: I could be wrong, it could be the number of sites that it’s just been activated on?

Jesse Dolan: Historically?

Joe Anderson: Possibly removed.

Jesse Dolan: Okay.

Joe Anderson: I guess I could look into that.

Jesse Dolan: Okay.

Joe Anderson: And get an answer for you.

Jesse Dolan: Oh no worries. I was just curious if you knew just because I’ve kind of always wondered that, like is this over the last 10 years how may people have installed this or like right now, you know there’s 85000 websites running this plugin right now. You know what I mean? Because I’m just curious about it.

Joe Anderson: That’s kind of a good question. I kind of want to look into that. I know like on wordpress.org it does say active installation.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah.

Joe Anderson: And then the number. So does that actually mean currently active but?

Jesse Dolan: So either way, the point is on that though is the more people using it and the higher the reviews, the odds are you’re a little bit safer. But still, whether you’re running five or 55 plugins on your website, if you’re seeing it slow, just start disabling them, seeing if there’s one that’s causing a problem.

Joe Anderson: Yeah. So that’s one thing I run into with my plugins too. You know, especially like my ditty news ticker plugin uses JavaScript to run.

Jesse Dolan: Okay.

Joe Anderson: Which if there’s another plugin or like say this theme that somebody’s using has a JavaScript error on this site, it most of the time kills JavaScript from running. So my-

Jesse Dolan: It just stalls out right there.

Joe Anderson: Yeah. So my plugin will look like it’s not working at all. And I get multiple, support questions throughout the month about, “Hey, your plugins not working.” Then I look on their site in the developer tools on their webpage and say, “Well you got this Java script there, that JavaScript there. So you’ve got to resolve this.”

Jesse Dolan: Like mine’s not even having a chance to run because you’re stalled out so.

Joe Anderson: Yeah. So my scripts just now aren’t running. So what you do when you do have issues on your site, first thing you do is just disable all your plugins. If you’re able to, if you have a live site, this is a little tricky, but if your site’s broken, you don’t really have much of a choice.

Jesse Dolan: Right.

Joe Anderson: Try to do it in off hours, disable all your plugins, get your site back to where it’s working fine. And then just re-enable plugins one by one, and see where the issue starts happening. If something starts getting wonky after you enable this one plugin, okay, you’ve tracked down to the issue most likely to that one plugin and then you kind of go from there.

Jesse Dolan: I’d throw at people too, like for how to test that, as you’re activating them and you can overrule me if you got something better. But let’s say if you’re using caching or any of these other things help speed up your loading times, so you don’t get a false positive.

Joe Anderson: Yeah.

Jesse Dolan: I usually run this through webpagetest.org, which kind of gives you a waterfall report on what loaded and the speeds.

Joe Anderson: Okay.

Jesse Dolan: Because if I visit my website, hit refresh, again if it’s caching some of that content, I may be enabling some plugins, but I’m kind of getting a false quick load because it’s already been loaded before in caching and things like that. You know, so when I’m doing something like that, just to be like hardcore, can’t mistake this, you know what I mean? I just run it through that. Or there’s, you just do a Google search for webpage speed testing, whatever, you can find other tools too. Webpagetest.org is pretty boring to look at, but it gives you the straight up data. So that’d just be something there as you’re doing that, if you have the time and you can do that, is kind of run it through a third party tool. Don’t just go off your own visual eye.

Joe Anderson: I will say going back to my comment on there not being too many plugins to have on your site, at the same time, I like to keep my plugin list pretty trim.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah.

Joe Anderson: You know, because a lot of times you add a plugin for a certain functionality then down the road you realize you want something a little different. So you add another plugin that does what you want, but then you forget to disable this one and now you know, sometimes you can build up a bunch of plugins. Even if they run good, if there’s good code, there’s just unnecessary code running.

Jesse Dolan: Right.

Joe Anderson: You know? So make sure you keep an eye on that. Your not running plugins that you just don’t even need anymore.

Jesse Dolan: Well I think too, this isn’t really a security episode, but I mean if you’re not using a plug in anymore, number one, you don’t need it, might as well delete it. But let’s say if you don’t. Number two, you switched plugins because you found a better one, which means that older one wasn’t as good, which means maybe the developers stopping to support it, which means who knows if it’s going to be outdated or there’s some security hole down the road. I mean, I can’t think of any good reason to keep a plugin installed that you’re not using anymore. So I think that’s great advice for everybody on multiple levels.

Joe Anderson: I’m going to add onto that, even though we’re not on the security podcast.

Jesse Dolan: Sure.

Joe Anderson: I know plenty of sites out there and people who they don’t want to update their plugins because they’re afraid something’s going to break.

Jesse Dolan: Sure.

Joe Anderson: They don’t want to risk that. First of all, it’s always good practice to backup your site just in case, because even if with great code in a plugin, something may go wrong with your internet connection while it’s running and half of its load and half it’s deleted and you’re like, “Ah.” So make sure your site’s backed up.

Jesse Dolan: It’s technology. Things glitch. I mean, come on.

Joe Anderson: Yeah. But what you need to realize if, say your theme is using, has an update available, or a plug in you’re using has an update available. There’s a reason that there’s an update available.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah.

Joe Anderson: Sometimes it’s just enhanced functionality. Many times it’s due to bugs that the developer has found and fixed. So you want to fix issues that maybe happen. And the biggest thing, which doesn’t happen all the time, but a lot sometimes there are security issues.

Jesse Dolan: Right.

Joe Anderson: That are found.

Jesse Dolan: Pretty critical, yeah.

Joe Anderson: That you want to update because you don’t want your site to get hacked because there’s one loose end in a plugin that has been fixed.

Jesse Dolan: Right.

Joe Anderson: But you just didn’t want to update your plugin for fear of something or just not wanting to spend the time to press a button.

Jesse Dolan: I’ll tell you what, this does bring it full circle because yeah, that’s security related stuff. But tell you what, you want a slow website, get hacked. You really want to see that thing crawl to a halt or completely get taken down. Get hacked.

Joe Anderson: If you want some Isis playing on your own home page.

Jesse Dolan: Right. So, and unfortunately we speak from experience on that. So.

Joe Anderson: Which rolls back into hosting.

Jesse Dolan: Right, exactly. Exactly. So I think we can probably wrap it up with that. Again, just to kind of reset the thing, get some good hosting, check out a CDN and really pay attention to your plugins. There’s some plugins you can add to enhance your speed, like we mentioned quick, but then also in general, kind of avoid that plug in bloat and kind of be managing it and be aware of it. With these kinds of these plugins or these apps, if you will, on your website, it’s no different than the software on your computer or apps on your phone. Try to keep it as trim as possible like you’re saying, and keep it as light as possible and you’re just going to eliminate as many risks as possible, and make your job a lot easier to for maintaining this thing.

Joe Anderson: Yeah, I mean plugins are great. I mean, they give you easy opportunity to add some great functionality to your site. Even as a developer, I don’t want to build everything from scratch. If there’s something out there that exists that I trust, I make use of it, because time is time.

Jesse Dolan: Why re-invent the wheel?

Joe Anderson: But yeah, like Jesse said, at the same time, keep it trim. If you’re not using the functionality of a plugin, disable it, delete it. If something bigger and better comes along that you’d rather use, you know, switch it up. But don’t leave things just hanging out there running on your site that you don’t need.

Jesse Dolan: Right. So Joe, if people want to reach out to you directly, how would they find you?

Joe Anderson: You can contact me at metaphorcreations.com. I do have a contact form on my site.

Jesse Dolan: And if you guys have any questions, if you can’t remember that, as always you can reach out to us at intrycks.com/show. Again, full disclosure, Joe is a very critical part of our Intrycks operations here. So for some reason, if you have trouble remembering metaphorcreations.com and you want to reach out through us, we can connect you to Joe. We’re happy to do that. He’s been part of what we do for a very long time. We work very closely together and in our opinion is very critical to having a full functioning and website and doing what we do.
So hopefully you guys got some good stuff out of that episode. Again kind of a little bit more peek under the hood for site speed, which is ridiculously important for your Google rankings, and just hopefully some stuff you can take action on. We’re going to get into our five star review of the week here. A big shout out to everybody who’s left us a review so far. We absolutely love it. This is just something that we do to help people out, to empower you and help you grow your business if you’re into that kind of thing. So when we get this kind of feedback, we like to read them, to share them with everybody else, and I don’t know, just makes me feel kind of warm and fuzzy, right?
So we’re going to read our five star review the week this week here. It’s from Paws to Purrfect. And when I say perfect, I mean multiple Rs like purrfect, right? See what they did there. Paws to Purrfect?

Joe Anderson: Good puns.

Jesse Dolan: Right? Five-star, extremely resourceful. This podcast is huge. I’m sorry. This podcast is a huge help to online business owners to get set up for success. Highly recommended. Thanks for that great five star review, Paws to Purrfect. I hope everybody feels like that and again, if you do, love to hear from it, go to intrycks.com/iTunes and let us know what you think.

All right everybody, I hope you enjoyed the conclusion of our two part episode there with Joe Anderson from Metaphor Creations. Again, if you haven’t checked out Episode 39 or last week’s episode, go to localSEOtactics.com so you can hear more of our interviews with Joe and just the great information that he has to share.

Also, while you’re there, check out our free instant SEO audit. Top right corner. Click on it. It’s going to take just about a minute or two. You plug in your website page or competitors page that you want to reverse engineer and the keyword that you want to run the score against, and it’s going to give you a PDF in your email. It’s going to give you a checklist of things that you need to improve. You can make those improvements, check them off the list, and then run it again to check your score. And again, if you want to plug in to competitors just to kind of reverse engineer, see where they’re doing right, and compare your score against those, a lot of people use that for that purpose as well. Thanks for sticking with us. We’ll catch you guys next week.

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