Site Speed Obsession: 95/100 on Mobile, 99/100 Desktop!


My site loads (as of April 2020) 95/100 on Mobile and 99/100 on Desktop!

Content Written By Henry Dalziel, 2020

Couldn’t be happier!

My site loads blazingly fast which is fantastic news.

In this post I’ll share some tips to get your site to load as fast as possible.

In This 3 Minute Post You’ll learn:

  • Why Speed Is Of Paramount Importance in 2020, (kinda obvious but let’s reiterate);
  • What I Did;
  • How To Make Sure It Stays That Way!

Why It Matters

Not unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last few years you’ll have realized that speed is of vital importance for SEO. Site loading speed is absolutely detrimental to user experience.

I can’t remember the stats off the top of my head but let’s just say that if your site takes longer than three seconds to load then you’ll be in danger of visitors not even bothering to wait and they’ll leave your site, and obviously, that’s bad news.

A fast-loading speed time sends an important and positive SEO signal to Google to say that you’ve made an effort to help your visitors and if that is combined with a decent page dwell time, and, scroll depth, then you’ll be ranking in no time at all!

So, let’s summarize, speed is vital and is absolutely a ranking factor in today’s highly ultra-competitive SEO Market.

If your site doesn’t load in under three seconds then see read on.

Update 2020 April 5th: Actually, ahem, disclaimer: I added Google AdSense and that’s added quite a bit of overhead on mobile, so I am trying to figure out how to get that sped up…

Update 2020 April 20th: I removed the Google AdSense script to experiment so I’m back on fast speeds again.

Mobile Load Speed: 95/100

Mobile Speed Is 95/100

So, as you can see above, on April 9th 2020, my site loaded at 95/100 when tested on a Mobile Device view which is key.

Loading fast on mobile is considered the “gold standard” because that’s the more difficult device to get to load fast (due to your device having lower specs that your desktop or laptop).

The other reason mobile load speed is vital is obvious: we are all moving towards mobile. Desktops are slowly dying; and of course, they won’t die at all – but rather my point is that mobile views are becoming increasingly more important.

My site currently receives about 50% of its’ traffic from mobile views.

Desktop Load Speed: 99/100

Check this out! 99/100! Wow!

I’ve never had a site load so fast.

So, what’s the secret sauce?

What I Did

Without any fanfare, let me get straight to the point as to what I did (and continue to do):

  1. I host on DigitalOcean;
  2. I use ServerPilot;
  3. The WordPress theme I use is super-light;
  4. I use a very limited amount of Javascript;
  5. I stripped all the WordPress bloat;
  6. I followed some of the items as detailed from GMetrix and Google Speed (such as .htaccess compression);
  7. Ensured that all images are highly compressed and .jpg format

Hosting Is A No-Brainer

Host with a shared crappy host and you’ll be dead in the water. Avoid GoDaddy and I’d recommend WPEngine (expensive but great support) and DigitalOcean. Personally I use DigitalOcean and WPEngine – but mostly DigitalOcean because I can spin up a server for literally $5 a month which is pretty amazing if you think about it.

If you’re interested, ServerPilot is an “AddOn” to DigitalOcean (it’s a separate entity) which takes out the ball-ache of running Linux commands to setup WordPress etc.

So, in summary, DigitalOcean + ServerPilot are my weapons of choice when I recommend hosting.

Also, DigitlOcean, like most other major hosting companies today allow you to host your installation or website in a server location of your choice. Obviously, if your target market is the US then locate the site in one of their US Clusters – again, it will help with your speed.

WordPress Theme

Again, this is obvious for anyone that’s been in the game for a while, but I’d absolutely recommend WordPress over any other CMS. I’ve worked with all of them, and even Laravel but when it comes to SEO and getting your site indexed and raking then stick with WordPress.

For themes, I’ve used GeneratePress and OceanWP. I absolutely loved OceanWP then I discovered GeneratePress.

Sorry OceanWP, GeneratePress Is Amazing

There are three reasons why I love GeneratePress:

  1. The theme is blazing fast;
  2. Their usage of “Elements” (I’ll discuss that below);
  3. Their support is unbelievable (big love to David, Tom & Leo)

A quick word about #2 and “Elements” from the list above. Elements are basically the ability to add either “hooks, layouts or headers” to specific pages in your theme.

I built what has become the web’s most popular Cybersecurity Conferences directory using GeneratePress (and a bunch of other PHP wizardry) and the elements feature was incredibly useful. It was useful because my InfoSec directory site is segmented into geographical sections – and that’s where the elements feature really helps out.

For example, say I want to show a banner or a header or include a hook in all conferences located in Europe, then no worries, GeneratePress will easily include that hook or feature as long as it can associate it work taxonomy or any other WordPress association.

Easy On The JavaScript

OK before I am annihilated by some nerds reading this, I am not a JavaScript developer. However, my thoughts are simple: the less code you have the better.

I am almost 99% sure when I say this that any third party JavaScript that is referenced really impacts your load time.

I’ll give you an example. I used to use a social media script called AddThis, which was a pretty good service, but I wasn’t able to lower the speed that it took to load on my site. What it did was include all the “likes” that I’d received from social media so their JavaScript process would hit LinkedIn, then Reddit, then Facebook, Twitter, etc, etc., long story short it wasn’t for me so I got rid of it.

Less Noise Is Good In 2020.

We are relentlessly bombarded by noise and visual media so I figure that simplicity is good. All that extra JavaScript and code tends to come from WordPress plugins so I think you get my point: the less code you use the better.

Stripping WordPress Bloat!

This one is very simple.

Without getting into the “why” let’s just say that WordPress ships with a bunch of code and CSS that you simply just don’t need.

Part 1 of 2 Of Bloat Removal

To get rid of all of the bloat copy and paste this and place in your functions.php file.

What this does is remove the ability for your visitors to post things like emoticons etc; which frankly – who cares.

Proceed with caution though, make sure you back up your installation first!

if (!function_exists(disable_emojis)) {
function disable_emojis() {
remove_action( 'wp_head', 'print_emoji_detection_script', 7 );
remove_action( 'admin_print_scripts', 'print_emoji_detection_script' );
remove_action( 'wp_print_styles', 'print_emoji_styles' );
remove_action( 'admin_print_styles', 'print_emoji_styles' );
remove_filter( 'the_content_feed', 'wp_staticize_emoji' );
remove_filter( 'comment_text_rss', 'wp_staticize_emoji' );
remove_filter( 'wp_mail', 'wp_staticize_emoji_for_email' );
}
add_action( 'init', 'disable_emojis' );
}

Part 2 of 2 Of Bloat Removal

If you need more info I’ve included some resources below [1], and again, make sure that you backup your installation.

remove_action ('wp_head', 'rsd_link');
remove_action( 'wp_head', 'wlwmanifest_link');
remove_action( 'wp_head', 'wp_generator');
remove_action( 'wp_head', 'wp_shortlink_wp_head');
remove_action( 'wp_head', 'rest_output_link_wp_head', 10 );
remove_action( 'wp_head', 'wp_oembed_add_discovery_links', 10 );
remove_action( 'wp_head', 'wp_oembed_add_host_js' );
remove_action( 'rest_api_init', 'wp_oembed_register_route');
remove_filter( 'oembed_dataparse', 'wp_filter_oembed_result', 10);
remove_action( 'wp_head', 'feed_links', 2 );

GMetrix and Google Speed Tips

These are the two “Go-To” places to measure your speed; you’ve likely heard of them and used them. I’d strongly suggest you create a free account with GMetrix (which is free) because you get to track your speed over time.

The major benefit of testing your site with GMetrix and Google (and of course there are others) is that the services provide you with tips on how to speed up your site.

One easy one to do that has a major impact is compression which you’ll need to place in your .htaccess file [2]. Rather than have me regurgitate what someone else has written I’d suggest you hit up the below citations.

Image Compression

Again, this is a no-brainer but it will have a huge impact on your site loading speed. Always try and use .jpg over .png and ideally next-gen images like JPEG 2000, JPEG XR, and WebP.

However, honestly, all you need to do is make sure that you compress your images either by using Plugins, or compress them before you upload them. Some of the online image compression tools I use are either Dynamic Drive image compression or TinyPNG [2] [3].

And – Lastly – Make Sure It Stays That Way!

OK, now that you’ve done the hard work make sure that your speed remains lightning fast.

One way to achieve this is but not allowing mission-creep WordPress Plugins to start appearing. Ask yourself if you really need that plugin? The chances are that you don’t.

Security scanning, regular backups, make sure that you’re using the latest software and of course image compression each and every time you upload an image!

Do the above and you’ll be just fine!

Good luck with your quest for speed.

[1] Clean Up WordPress
[2] Enable .htaccess Compression
[3] Image compression Dynamic Drive
[4] TinyPNG

Henry, "HMFIC"

I'm Henry, the guy behind this site. I fancy myself as a bit of a Cyber Expert Specialist and I've been Growth Hacking since 2002, yep, that long...

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