[Geekiness] WordPress Optimisation Tips

Code Optimisation image from Stocksnap.io
Image by Sai Kiran Anagani on StockSnap.io

This isn’t really a guide as it is a WordPress optimisation list for myself. Comes in very useful for RealName website. It’s also a gentle reminder to myself to check on this every so often.

Image Optimisation Checklist

Photo Tip: Compress your images

Yes, even if your images are hosted elsewhere like Flickr, always compress them. This leads to faster loading times, especially on mobile. On RealName site, when I did not do this, the header image only loaded halfway. Compressing it lead a complete load without any loss of quality. So my current MO is: Take Photos > Upload to Google Drive > Test > PASS/FAIL.

Recommendation: TinyPNG is pretty good at optimising images for the Web and WordPress. Note if you install TinyPNG’s official WordPress plugin, only your media library gets optimised. This means you need to compress your images before uploading them to a third-party service like Flickr if you are not uploading them to your own server via WordPress’ Media Upload.

Image Tip: Skip Featured Image themes

Featured Images are required to pass Google’s AMP and Facebook Instant Pages requirements (though I think more AMP than Instant Pages but anyway…), so whether I want to or not I now have to include it into most of my posts, including this one.

However, Featured Images can be quite a dick when it comes to themes. In December, activating this lead to duplicated images, since I used to include the image itself in the post. Also, by default WordPress does NOT support showing Featured Images from third-party sites. The solution?

Step 1: Skip the themes that have Featured Images enabled. On the RealName site I’m using Total. Ink To Screen (this blog) is using Scrawl. Ink To Screen is using Vine and Lace, a premium WordPress theme I got free as a part of Creative Market’s offering last year. Both are mobile-friendly and have enough customisation for me to work with. Also, less junk in your theme = faster loading.

Step 2:For Featured Images, I use Featured Image from URL. It’s got some customisation options (like being Woocommerce-ready and Flickr integration) but since I’m running a personal talk cock sing-song blog, there’s no need for those bells and whistles.

Loading Time Checklist

Cache or Not?

I only started caching my sites recently when I began tweaking RealName site. After some trial and error, I’ve decided to use W3 Total Cache on both sites. In terms of UI, it’s quite advanced, but I find it most useful when pairing it against my Page Insights results. This makes it much easier to figure out what you need and don’t need on the site. Plus, it integrates nicely with Yoast SEO.

Analytics and Seo Checklist

Yoast for breakfast

I admit I’m a wannabe hipster. I tend not to use the plugins and tools everyone is using simply because I often find they are either too simple, too complex, or just not what I want for my needs (see: Featured Image from URL). Yoast SEO though, is one of the rare exceptions. I had used Yoast SEO at work and found it quite easy to use. However, upon installation I found it quite full of features I didn’t need.

Or so I thought. I used All-In-One SEO for a long while, but I found I missed the most important part of Yoast SEO – the optimisation of content. As amusing as it sounds, Yoast SEO generally reminded me to write in more varied sentences and to include my keywords better. For a writer it’s a better tool.

Easier Analytics

Before I started optimising my site for SEO, I used to use short urls, things like geminianeyes.com/p=1233 (sample only, if you click on it I have no idea where it will go). However, SEO practices dictate that it’s best to use a format that’s geminianeyes.com/date/post-name-or-subject as it’s easier for search engines to discover. I’ve discovered an unexpected bonus using this format.

It means if I’m trying to analyse posts on Google Analytics by month, I don’t have to manually search for the post names or published dates. I can just put in “/2017/01” as the query and it’ll come out with posts published in that month. This makes generating reports for clients really easy (which I recommend if you’re not using a more advanced tool).

And that’s it for now. Got a suggestion? Let me know so I can test it out!