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A Guide to Mastering WordPress Optimization in 2018

2018, CDN, New Year, wordpress optimization

December 26, 2017 by

Editor's Note: Joydeep Bhattacharya is a digital marketing evangelist who writes for SEO Sandwitch. Today he joins us to discuss optimization techniques that will keep your WordPress site vital in the coming year.

 

WordPress continues to be a strong pillar on which millions of websites stand and continue to grow. If you will be using any form of content marketing in the New Year, chances are good that you will benefit from learning the best techniques to optimize a newly created WordPress site.

Considering the rapid changes happening all across the Internet landscape, websites have to stay at the top of their game to continue raking in traffic, and enjoying the trust and readership of their audience. This is where smart webmasters always try hard to build upon the basics by exploring the latest optimization tactics.

As we approach 2018, differences in the way that users consume Internet content are changing the standard for "best". So in this guide, we will cover a mixture of optimization methods that will improve your WordPress website in more ways than one for the coming year.

Optimizing Your WordPress Website for Mobile

2016 was a landmark year in the history of web search as mobile internet usage overtook desktop. In 2018, another landmark event is set to take place: Google will switch to its mobile-first index, ranking websites based on their mobile versions.  

For outliers that haven't already brought mobile optimization to their sites, this fact should be enough to finally prove the necessity of creating refined mobile versions of a WordPress theme.

Conventional mobile optimization techniques for WordPress include responsive themes, and use of selective content for mobile versions of the website.  However, the modern WordPress site can’t afford to deliver anything less than an enriching and enjoyable mobile browsing experiences to users.

Here are important ideas to think about moving forward:

  • Consider re-imagining your business sites to deliver great mobile experiences; for instance, you could strip down all unnecessary pages from your restaurant website and focus on an image gallery, a reservation maker, and menu in the mobile website.
  • WordPress’ wp_is_mobile() function lets you design different mobile experiences within the same theme as your main website, and is much better than rearranging columns for mobile-viewing using CSS.
  • If you’re keen on finding existing flaws with the mobile-readiness of your WP website, use Google Search Console to fetch your website as Google. Specify the device as ‘mobile smartphone’, and you’ll get a fair idea of how the experience looks like.
  • Make sure you don’t let large pop ups or interstitials block page content; this attracts penalties from Google, and leaves the mobile user disgruntled.

Speed Up Your Site to Reduce Load Time

Estimates vary, but it’s safe to assume that anything more than 3 seconds in page loading time is a reason to be concerned for your WP websites.

Every fraction of a second’s impact on your WordPress website’s page loading speed can translate into the loss or gain of thousands of dollars. Here’s what you can do to optimize your website’s speed, as we move into 2018.

Re-evaluate Your Web Hosting

Unless you used a thorough guide to setting up your website while starting up, chances are you might have gone ahead with the most inexpensive shared hosting plan you could find. While this decision may be financially expedient, it can do a lot of harm in the long run.

The cheapest web hosts are cheap for a good reason: they often cut corners that leave users waiting for your site to load, and this will turn them away fast.  Here’s a complete comparison between the best WordPress website hosting services; now’s the time to upgrade, and prevent traffic attrition because of slowly loading web pages.

Opt for CDNs

CDN, or content delivery network, works by letting users download your website's CSS, JavaScript, and image content from a server physically closest to their location, thereby reducing the aerial data transmission distance, and improving speed.

For WordPress blogs with globally spread out audiences, and for those stuck with hosting on a server that's located far away from the most important traffic source geographies, CDN is a tremendously worthwhile investment

Optimizing Your Content

Differentiation is difficult if you only stick to long post content formats for your WordPress site. Most bloggers now innovate with new content formats to keep things busy, maintain user interest, and also to smartly repurpose old content to create new posts.

HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2017 report brings to the surface some attention-worthy trends from the content marketing sphere, which WordPress website owners would do well to remember.

Most important among these is the rise of visual content: YouTube videos, GIFs, infographics, Facebook videos, Snapchat stories, Instagram, and Pinterest are critical elements of any forward-looking bloggers content strategy through 2018.

Consider the following for the New Year:

  • Create animated videos out of your most popular blog posts
  • Record and promote a webinar
  • Create episodic content and post regularly on your YouTube channel, integrating it with WordPress
  • Ask an influencer for an interview

Making Use of Smart Plugins

WordPress plugins continue to add value. In 2018, make sure you use the best of them to optimize your website. Yoast SEO is a must have; it offers page analysis, technical WP SEO optimization, XML Sitemap generation and submission. Image alt tag checks, content length checks, meta description analysis, and keyword density analysis help you optimize your website in every way to get more SEO traction.

All in One SEO Pack is another powerful plugin; it comes with special functions such as automatic meta-tag generation and title optimization, apart from all expected SEO functionalities. Besides this, goal-specific plugins like Google XML Sitemaps, All In One WP Security & Firewall, and Broken Link Checker (their names give away what they’re about) are also highly valuable for your WordPress websites.

Check out our list of the most useful WordPress plugins this year

Keeping an Eye on Technical SEO

Technical SEO needs constant attention, and chances are you haven't devoted enough attention to it in 2017. Make amends before we hit the New Year. Some to-do tasks:

  • Consider enabling gZip compression of images, CSS, and JavaScript files to reduce the time it takes for this data to be transmitted to the end users.
  • Avoid using bulky images unless necessary
  • Also, upload images in the size you want to use them in, instead of resizing them using HTML after uploading oversized files.
  • Use the WP Smush.it plugin to remove unnecessary info from image files.
  • Use W3 Total Cache Plugin to minify your CSS and JavaScript files to reduce their sizes.  

Concluding Remarks

WordPress is a great platform, and will continue to be so. However, a WordPress site is only as good as the thought that goes into it and that's why it's important not to be lax.

2018 will bring in newer challenges that will require you to respond smartly. The optimization strategies mentioned in this guide are the perfect preparation you need to keep your website at the top of its game as the new year begins, and throughout.

To learn more about optimizing your WordPress site in 2018, check out our classes on the following topics:

Introduction to Content Marketing Strategy

Crafting Genuine Content Marketing Strategies That Get Results

Building Your Mobile Strategy

 

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

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