I guess the best place to start when trying to improve your current blog's speed, is to take stock in what its strengths and weaknesses are. In order to truly know either of those things, you must know how to analyze your blog on several levels. I will never forget what led me to realize there was much more to the health of a blog than the way it looked and the content of its posts.
I had a ton of cute little buttons, showing all of the many blog directories I was a member of, several scrolling image bars showing all of the other blogs I visited and liked and even a slideshow of my favorite family pictures. I thought my blog LOOKED awesome and was a real representation of me...until, one day it took over two minutes to load the homepage and my blog literally slowed to a crawl. I called my hosting company at the time and the guy gently broke it to me that I was using WAY too many resources. This was a concept I had never once considered, which began my never-ending mission to streamline and speed up my blog. This is a job that I monitor and maneuver daily, for I want to give my readers the best possible experience I can while they're here. If I don't, I know someone else will and I want my readers to keep coming back again and again, enjoying my blog...not becoming frustrated by it.
If you are just beginning and want to really see how the changes you make affect the speed of your blog, you might want to start a spreadsheet detailing your loading speed, YSlow score, Google Page Speed, etc. I wish I would have kept these records, for it would have made things much easier in knowing which changes I made worked for my blog and which ones worked against it.
Here's a sample of a spreadsheet that might help you get started: BUILDING A FASTER BLOG SPREADSHEET SAMPLE
So, without further ado, here are the top 10 sites I recommend you bookmark when trying to optimize your blog's speed. These sites all offer something a little different and are useful in different ways, but together they are an informational powerhouse!
- YSlow - The first thing I recommend is to start using Mozilla Firefox browser IMMEDIATELY when analyzing your blog. I've found that Firefox is much better than Internet Explorer in many ways, but especially because of the ability to add specialized plugins. Follow the instructions on YSlow's download page and find out what your beginning YSlow score is.
- Google Page Speed - Another wonderful Firefox plugin that when coupled with YSlow, will give you greater insight into your blog, with plenty of suggestions on how to improve it.
- Is My Blog Working? - This is a fairly simple and direct test and will give you a broad overview to what the world is experiencing when they visit your site. It's definitely helpful for measuring how fast your page fetch speed is, whether or not you are utilizing gzip and how much savings you're getting because of it. I also love that it will automatically detect problems with your feed too.
- Redbot and Web Sniffer - These two sites are great for they will let you know whether your blog is caching correctly. (If you're not sure what caching is, don't worry. I'll explain all about it when I discuss the W3 Total Cache plugin in a future post.)
- Website Grader and Blog Grader - If you've ever been to someone's blog and noticed that little badge displayed which says what their numerical "web grade" is, then this is the site they've went to. There is a host of information, including vital stats like MOZ Rank and SEO Authority, displayed here. I used to have my badge displayed in my sidebar, until I discovered that it's a speed drainer. Now, it's on my Media Kit page.
- Web Page Test - I absolutely LOVE this site, for it gets super detailed and reveals the ugly truth about how long your blog is really taking to load. I probably utilize this site at least once per day and if I'm trying something new with my blog, I use it even more.
- Link Vendor Speed Tester - Another one of my daily favorites... This site will help you figure out which images are sucking the speed from your blog. Since most of the blog's I visit are image intensive (myself included), this is a must-see for finding out how you can streamline your blog.
- Website Speed Test - This isn't one I use that often, for the others tend to do the job just fine. But, I threw it in here to make an even ten websites. You can't have a top 9 countdown! That would just be silly.
Whew! These sites should definitely keep you busy and might even confuse you a little in the beginning. Stay tuned and we'll break down each of the main problems that could be stealing valuable time and readers away from your blog, and the results you're seeing here will soon begin to improve.
Until next time...have a wonderful day!
I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!