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How Google ranks websites is ultimately a secret – a well-kept secret at that. Experts estimate over 200 different factors play a role in Google’s mysterious algorithms. One thing we do know for certain is that Google recently announced that page speed will be a part in those equations – though not a big factor in what determines their rankings – it’s still wise to pay attention when Google speaks.

Page speed will be especially important for WordPress users with a large amount of plugins that tend to slow down our WordPress website or blog. Nearly every plugin requires extra resources to run properly. CSS, Javascript, and PHP all use resources and cause more HTTP requests.

Here are my 10 quick and easy ways to help reduce the page speed of your WordPress website:

  1. Replace PHP with HTML. One of the easiest ways to reduce your HTTP requests is by replacing simple PHP code with HTML wherever you can. For example, the top navigation menu. For most of us, we rarely change the menu. In your header.php file, locate the PHP code that tells WordPress to list the pages and replace it with HTML code instead. While you’re there look for links to your stylesheet, rss feeds, and any other PHP code that can easily be replaced with HTML. Do the same for your footer.php file as well.
  2. Put your CSS URL directly under <head> tag. After replacing the PHP code that calls your CSS URL with HTML, place that sucker right underneath your <head> tag. Doing this tells the webpage to load the CSS before all other content.
  3. Hook your JavaScript files into the WP footer. Nothing can slow down a web page faster than a bunch JavaScript files in your <head> tag. Plugins are notorious for hooking the JavaScript files in the WP head. Plugins like Event/Hook Class (5-star rating) will hook your JavaScript files into the WP footer – where they should be anyway.
  4. Optimize your CSS. There are many free online tools and plugins that will drastically reduce the overall size of your CSS file by removing white space, comments, unnecessary CSS, reducing HEX colors and more. Note: However, create a backup before doing this … just in case.
  5. Reduce your white space. Scour your php files and take the necessary actions to remove unnecessary code and/or comments.
  6. Install WP super cache. Download and install the WP super cache plugin (free). The plugin will create a cached page for returning visitors and speed up load times.
  7. Firefox addon called Yslow. Yslow will test your website and show you where your website could use improvement and increase speed.
  8. Image sprites. Not all of us are skilled enough to use image sprites but if you are, then you should anywhere you can.Reduce image quality/resolution. Graphic rich websites would benefit most from this one. You’ll increase the load times of images. Image sprites is another option (see #8).
  9. Don’t use HTML to scale images. Before uploading your images, scale them with programs like Gimp.

Hope these 10 easy steps help you be seen by Google and if nothing else – your visitors will thank you.

Product recommendations:

Event/Hook Class (CodeCanyon.net)

WP super cache (WordPress.org)