Load Times: Why Site Speed is Crucial for Every Blogger

85 amazing comments

site speed

Last update February 27th, 2017

If you have a blog you’ll want to make sure that it loads really fast.

In fact, site speed is one of the most important things you can think about.

A slow load time will affect almost everything that occurs on that blog and have dire consequences for your long term success and usability.

Today I’m going to talk about why site speed is so important and what you can do to fix it.

Let’s take a look.

Why site speed is so important

Want to hear something scary?

40% of users will abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load. – Akamai.

Whatever your blogging goal might be, good site speed is obviously crucial. Many people don’t actually realize the impact speed has on various aspects of online business.

Have a read through this list and see whether you think your blog might be affected.

  • It affects your sign ups
    As a blogger your primary metric of concern is probably getting more email subscribers for your mailing list. A slow loading site makes it less likely that people will be patient through the sign up process. As there are already a lot of steps in this process, each delay will cause someone to bounce from the site.
  • It affects your SEO
    Google indicated a little while ago that site speed would be a major factor affecting a blog’s search engine rankings. They want to make the web faster and more enjoyable for their own clients and so we need to make sure our site structure is up to the task.
  • It affects your sales and conversions
    Waiting time is important for sales both offline and online and it will always have an effect on your bottom line. Roughly 50% of users expect a site to load in under two seconds and if it doesn’t they promptly hit the back button and look elsewhere.
  • It affects your readership and loyalty
    If people don’t enjoy being on your blog there is a big chance they won’t return to it. For example, although they produce good content I don’t click through to Forbes anymore because you have to go through an advert screen first. This is a form of load time and I suspect it would have a big effect on their readership.

Good site speed is so important for online business these days and failure to take care of it will have big impacts on how well you can perform in a variety of areas.

How to test your site speed to discover any issues

Hopefully now you’re convinced of the merits of speeding up your site. So what can you do about it?

The first thing you want to do is head over to Pingdom Tools and run a speed test on your blog. Here’s the results for Blog Tyrant:

blog tyrant speed test

As you can see, the homepage is loading in around a second (which is good!) and is ranked pretty well in terms of potential speeds. I’m going to change a few things this week to get it down below one second.

The really interesting stuff, however, is down below the result where they show you a breakdown of all the different things that load on your site. Take a look.


Here are two long bars that show Facebook and Clicky which tend to sometimes have a bit of a lag on the load time. Things like Facebook Like Boxes can really slow down your load time.

Go through and see what’s affecting yours the most.

How to make improvements to your site speed

Once you’ve done your test and have some ideas about what is slowly your baby down we need to go through and make some changes.

I can have an educated guess about what the main factors will be and so I’ll give you some tips below.

1. Consider upgrading from shared hosting to a VPS

As your site starts to grow in size and popularity there will come a time when you might need to move away from a shared hosting setup.

I recommend BlueHost shared hosting to all new bloggers because it is a great mix of simplicity, price and reliability. But this shared hosting becomes unsuitable if you start to get bigger – lots of traffic will see your site start to slow down.

Luckily BlueHost also offers a VPS (Virtual Private Server) option which is where you can upgrade to getting your own private environment. This upgrade is a bit of a learning curve but you’ll see site speeds skyrocket with this one change alone.

So how do you know when it’s time to migrate?

That’s a bit of a tricky question and will depend on lots of factors. If you notice your site slowing down under heavy traffic and you can’t fix it with other solutions that might be a key. Lots of throttling, used up bandwidth and so on are also signs. The best bet is to chat with one of the server staff and see what they advise.

NOTE: If anyone is interested in learning more about VPS servers and how to choose one I’d be happy to do a post.

2. Make your images smaller

Big images are usually a main reason a blog will load slowly. I am often really surprised to see people uploading images 2mb to 5mb in size!

Ideally, you want your images to be less than 100kb if possible – especially if you use a lot of images in each post. That’s not always possible but it can make a huge difference to load time.

One way to achieve this is to use a service like WP Smush which strips away some info from your images and makes them load faster.

You can also achieve this manually with individual images using Dynamic Drive Image Optimizer which shows you multiple versions of a reduced size image and allows you to choose one to your liking.

3. Consider using a caching plugin

Caching plugins like W3 Total Cache can have a huge impact on your site speed by caching a version of your website and showing that to visitors instead of loading the whole website every time someone visits.

The features of this particular plugin are far too numerous to name, and actually it can be a little overwhelming when you first look at them. If you have the budget I’d recommend talking to a server specialist to see whether they could help you install and configure it.

It’s worth the effort – getting your caching right can have a big impact on how quickly your blog loads. I’ll be adding a new caching set up to Blog Tyrant over the next few days to get it below that one second mark.

4. Enable GZIP

Enabling GZIP is quite technical and something that is best left for your server admin staff. It’s all about compression and how the server talks to the browser (here’s the details), but the end result is some pretty nice improvements on the page. Shoot your server admin and email and ask them about installing GZIP on your server and whether it’s a good fit.

5. Use a content delivery network (CDN)

Content delivery networks can be quite difficult to understand conceptually, but they are generally pretty easy to implement. They are so effective that many server technicians say that this is the most important step you can take assuming your server is set up correctly.

Basically what they do is place your content (images, files, etc.) closer to readers in order to save load time. For example, if your server is in New York and your reader is in Melbourne that content has to “hop” across lots of networks in order to display the content. A CDN chooses servers closer to the user.

Again, you’ll need to chat to your host about whether a CDN is appropriate for your blog’s environment. One popular CDN service is CloudFlare which has a free option available for WordPress users.

6. Remove widgets, plugins and add ons

It’s funny, sometimes you can do all this server-side stuff to speed up your site and still have bad load times. Often it is due to some plugin or service (like the Facebook Like Box) that is failing to load properly.

One example that highlighted this fact to me was when AWeber suffered a DDoS attack last year. Their website went down for days and during that time heaps of blogs began loading slowly because they had AWeber hosted opt-in forms embedded on their blog. Those forms failed to load because AWeber’s servers were down.

A successful and profitable blog doesn’t need to be busy. In fact, in my experience it’s the minimal blogs that have a very clear focus that make the most money and get the most subscribers. Remove any unnecessary plugins or tools and make sure everything is operating at the latest version.

Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry.

I contacted my friend David Steven-Jennings, an expert in Linux System Admin, to get his opinion on site speed. I asked about the mistakes that his clients make and found his answer quite interesting:

I think the biggest mistake I see clients make is being obsessed with site speed. Obviously speed is important but it’s easy to take things too far – ie when the results aren’t worth the effort.

The worst cases I’ve seen are when clients are willing to spend hours and lots of money to shave off the last few milliseconds from a 1.5 second load time. In their quest for the fastest time possible they don’t realise that their site visitors won’t even notice such minor improvements. In short, you should first focus on the big impact stuff first and don’t worry about the small stuff unless you are very sure the return on investment will be worth it.

Another big mistake I see clients make is trying to move to complicated hosting when they’ve outgrown their shared hosting, for example moving to cloud-based high-availability clusters or multiple redundant servers. I can see why – who wouldn’t be excited about their traffic levels growing like that? – however it’s usually never needed. The thing to remember is that if the site needed complicated hosting so soon it wouldn’t have worked on a shared host to begin with πŸ™‚

Thus, my standard suggestion is to upgrade to a dedicated server or VPS first – this can last you a long time, especially if you sit it behind a CDN or proxy server, and is a hell of a lot cheaper. Most companies find that they never need to move past this, but if you find that you do you’ll probably already have a good idea of what you need.

This is great advice that I think will help a few people relax about taking site speed too far. Of course you want it to be as fast as possible, but you shouldn’t stress about a few microseconds that probably won’t make that big of a difference to anything.

How does your site perform?

I’d really love to know how your blog performs in terms of site speed. Do you have any drastic numbers that need improving? Head on over and do a speed test and let me know what results you get in the comments below. And if you have any questions about how to speed things up feel free to ask.

Ramsay from Blog Tyrant


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85 Comments. Join in. *Closed after 30 days*

  • Kat Jarman

    I SO needed this, implementing now!

    1. Kat Jarman

      Oh man, I have an almost 7 second load speed. Wow.

      1. Shaikh Masood Alam

        Use DNS Prefetch.
        Its saves your time. My blog loads under 2 seconds after dns prefetch its below in 800ms.
        Before adding Google Adsense.

      2. Mike

        Congrats for that Kat! Haha. Just kidding. Time for some tweaking I guess.

        1. Ramsay

          Ha ha.

        2. Kat Jarman

          Lol Mike, I tweaked and got it down to 1.5 seconds. Win!

  • priscila diniz

    Hi Ramsay!

    Thank ou for your tips! I start my new blog on squarespace, and I work with visual content, can I use smush on Squarespace as well? What do you recommends?

    Thank you!
    Priscila D.

    1. Ramsay

      I don’t think you can but I’m not 100% sure. I’d use an external service like Dynamic Drive and shrink the images before you upload them.

      1. priscila diniz

        Thank yooou <3

  • Dan Sumner

    I’m moving to a managed server on Thursday. The transition is already taking place, so hope to see some improvements.

    I lost a lot of sales due to slow load speed on a product launch this year.

    Speed is essential. Thanks Ramsey

    1. Ramsay

      What company are you going with?

      1. Dan Sumner

        Hey Ramsay, I use 1and1 here in the UK.

        Believe it or not I’ve been with them since 2006 as well as others such as Blue host and D9.

        I’ve ways found them a good balance of reliability and value.

  • David

    A huge piece of information!
    Actually I’ve been wondering for a while how to make our blog faster to load. As we still are WordPress.com hosted -yes, rookie us :-)- with not much control on the server side, the only options I see is to reduce the picture size (as a photo-travel blog, we really need tones of pictures to support our message) and to check for any widget issue. Other than that, I guess a better solution is to self host…
    I’ll definitely give Pingdom Tools a try and see. And if you have any other suggestion for us the rookie ones out there, we’ll love to hear :-). Thanks again for sharing your blog wisdom with us all!

    1. Ramsay

      Self hosting is the way to go. It will present a few issues for you as migration is a bit annoying but it’s well worth it in the long run IMHO.

  • Zubz Kadir

    A timely post,thanks Ramsay!

    Just a question on CDN. Is the website supposed to see a noticeable speed increase after we sign up? I just completed a one-month trial on one but there is no noticeable increase in speed. Does that mean that it’s not working? Or does it mean that the problem is in my website itself?

    1. David Steven-Jennings

      Are you sure it was actually caching? Drop me an email and I can take a look – david [@] davidsj.co.uk

    2. Ramsay

      Yeah I’m not sure it would be set up correctly.

  • James

    Hi Ramsay,

    Yes, please do a post on VPS!!! There is a lot of info out there, but hoping you can simplify it down for us.


    1. Laura

      I agree. Can someone please tell me the difference between shared hosting and a managed VPS in terms of the amount of technical knowledge you need. And any thing I should know before I move across? Recommended companies etc…

      1. Ramsay

        Hi Laura.

        It’s quite a big leap but not too stressful. KnownHost are by far the best company I’ve ever worked with – their support has taught me so much over the years. Can’t recommend enough.

  • David Pollack

    Thanks Ramsay,

    I’ve been meaning to fix site speed for some time but have put it on the back burner while working on stuff I find more interesting. Your post has reminded me of the priority speed should take.

    One question: are services like VPS much the same quality supplier to supplier? Or should one shop around?

    1. David Steven-Jennings

      >are services like VPS much the same quality supplier to supplier?

      Unfortunately not. The quality of the VPS depends on several factors, such as :

      * The type of virtualisation used – this gets very technical very quickly, but in general, Xen and KVM are more preferable to OpenVZ
      * How powerful the underlying hardware is and how big a ‘piece of the pie’ you get
      * How many other VPSes are on the server. This ties into the point above as every VPS will be vying for system resources. Overselling (cramming more VPSes than a host server can handle) can be an issue as well, especially with… shadier companies that use OpenVZ

      1. David Pollack

        Thanks, David

        I thought that might be the case. Nothing’s easy.

  • Hemapriya

    Hi Ramsey,

    Since last 2 weeks, I was unable to decide whether my website needed a VPS hosting, as now I am on a shared hosting and when traffic spikes the site goes down frequently. Thank you for the post,Now I have a clear idea what I need.

    1. Ramsay

      Yes that could be one solution.

  • Lisa Frideborg Eddy

    Which is the best site for testing site speed?

    1. Naman Nepal

      You can either go with pingdom or GTmetrix. That should help. πŸ™‚

      1. Lisa Frideborg Eddy

        Thanks Naman!

  • Naman Nepal

    I generally use genesis or thesis themes which are fast loading themselves.

    The only problem is customizing such themes can be a little tough for newbies.

    I still doubt, VPS hosting has much effect when it comes to speed. I’ve tried a few times, but there was not much of change that probably could have affected the site speed.

    Good post though!

    1. Ramsay

      Hi Naman.

      What VPS companies/set ups did you use? Does your site get a lot of traffic?

  • Peter

    So my 0.8 secs to load my big responsive WP frontage is not to shabby then… πŸ˜‰

    1. Ramsay

      Sounds good to me!

  • Karishma

    Thanks a lot for this one Ramsay. A very timely post.

    1. Ramsay

      You’re welcome.

  • Abrar

    Hi Ramsey,

    Yeah, for blogs I would say speed should be taken as an integrated quality, not as an extra feature.

    A blog is meant for its readers, if they can’t browse it smoothly, quality and effectiveness of the blog will drastically get down.

    Regarding how to speed up a website, if anyone is on wordpress, they can try W3 Total Cache integrated with CloudFlare. I have combined these two and the result is 10x improvement in page loading time.

    I published that case study over my blog how I configured W3TC with CloudFlare for 10x improvement. You may check it there if you need.

    – Abrar

    1. Ramsay

      Awesome. Feel free to post the link here if you like.

  • Andrew

    Hi Ramsay,

    Thanks for the tips you included. Cloudflare is a great service, you get a lot of features even on their free plan. If your website really needs to be up 24/7 I would recommend to upgrade to one of their pro plan, you will get a basis DDos protection which is very useful. I have used WP Smush but I had problems with this plugin, it constantly broke my site (its a known issue, not the best coded plugin) but feel free to give it a try. W3 plugin combined with a good CDN can make your site fly, just make sure you are using the good settings. For those who are looking for more speed and how performance affect your website I would recommend you to read this in-depth resource: https://kinsta.com/learn/page-speed/
    Ramsey, is this site hosted on Bluehost? Shared or VPS plan?
    Thanks, Andrew

    1. Ramsay

      I’ve heard a lot about CloudFlare. People really seem to like it.

      This site is on a VPS.

  • Dawn

    Timely article for me. My new site is very image heavy, as it features professional portraits.

    Unlike some other sites, the images on my site are the foundation of the posts. Sacrificing image quality too much won’t work for me. I know the load time is way too long, though. It’s a fine line. What do you recommend in a case like mine? I know photographers know an image-heavy site will be slower to load…. But I don’t want them moving on to the next site.

    You gave some good advice here that I will look into.

    Thanks, Ramsay!


    1. Ramsay

      Hi Dawn.

      Your site is really lovely. Seems to be loading pretty quickly. I’d recommend a Lazy Load plugin whereby the images only load once the user scrolls to them. Might be worth a try?


      1. Dawn

        Thanks, Ramsay! Maybe you looked after I implemented some changes. Because it was really bad when I first tested it this morning.

        Interesting thoughts on the plug-in. Will try that, too. Can’t hurt, I figure.

        Thank you so much! Have a lovely week!

  • Jennifer

    Mine loads at 6.24
    I will definitely be implementing some of your ideas.
    Thanks, Ramsay.
    Question, by reducing photo size, does that affect quality?

    1. Ramsay

      Yes it does. It’s a hard balance to find.

  • chris

    1.9 seconds for my home page and about the same for a blog page. This makes sense as a blog page can also pull comments (gravatar images) and use plug-ins like additional subscription boxes not found on the home page.

    I keep my site lean on plug-ins, using caching, and optimize images. Well, I usually optimize my images. πŸ™

    I should note that I’ve abandon a few paid plug-ins over the years because they added 2-3 seconds to page load time.

    1. Ramsay

      Yeah plugins can be really tricky like that – especially the social ones.

  • Nicole

    4.3 seconds. Not good! Whenever I’ve tried to optimize my images they never look as good. I’ll try your suggestions since that seems to be my main problem. How can I tell if my host is an issue? My traffic is still low but some days my page takes forever to load.

    1. Ramsay

      I would jump on chat with your support staff and see what they recommend. Often they will have some good suggestions for your specific situation.

  • JoAnn @ Whimsicle

    5.14 seconds… eeek! I’ve tried to have my site sped up in the past but the person who helped me with it said it was my ad network causing the problems. All my pics are optimized, but there are some redirect chains listed that I have no idea where they came from.

    1. JoAnn @ Whimsicle

      Just downloaded WP SMUSH and I am working on reducing my site size from the current 5MB (eek!) Its already improved my load time by a second and I am nowhere near done.

      Also, I just noticed that my site load time differs dramatically based on the location of the test. When it tests within the US I get a 4 second load time. When it tests internationally, I get a 12 second load time. Based on this post, I should probably look into a CDN, yes?

      Thank you again! Awesome post! So much useful information!

      1. Ramsay

        Hi JoAnn.

        I did a test and found that your homepage is taking 15 seconds to load. It has over 300 requests. Way too many.

        Honestly, I would consider changing or leaving that ad network if that is the main problem. It might be really affecting a lot of other things.

  • Jennifer

    Down to 3.48, but I deleted all the plugins. Will add one at a time to see which ones are hurting instead of helping!

    1. Jennifer

      Down to 2.79 by deleting extra themes I’d tried out for my site…

      1. Ramsay

        Nice work!

  • Linda

    my speed 2.6sec, probably not too bad.
    In my case it’s my banners in my sidebar and although you’ve said so many times before we should remove them, I like them there, maybe one day I’ll let go of them.
    I think EWWW image optimizer is also great for WordPress sites.
    Till next time…..

    1. Ramsay

      2.6 seconds is not bad.

  • Horace Williams Jr

    I am between 6-6.5 seconds….yikes! I just started blogging few months ago so I definitely need to make some changes. Thanks for the tips. I will try and interpret what those graphs are telling me.

    1. Ramsay

      Hope it helps!

  • Slavko Desik

    Wow, very useful. For those who don’t have the luck to work alongside someone who deals with these stuff, this can be a very frustrating issue. And it does help a lot when speed is improved. Even affiliate sales go up a bit as we’ve noticed on our site.

    And having premium content, this is a must. People that pay to see something usually expect warp speed.

    Gonna be Including this article in a guide I’ve created earlier

    Now off to read other posts, I have catching up to do πŸ™‚

  • Slavko Desik

    Ups, forgot to include the speed of our site…

    Score of 91/100, load speed 1.00 sec.

    1. Ramsay

      Nice one!

  • dwebwalker

    That’s what I look out for on my personal blog

  • Peter Ewin Hall


    I’ve been working on this one (caching, image sizes, widget removal, etc) despite that I’m in need of a new host. I’ve been using GTmetrix (there’s a WP plugin) which gives both PageSpeed and YSlow ratings. PageSpeed is now 91% but I’m getting 2-3 second load times at best.

    I’ve also used pingdom to monitor availability/uptime of the site. Not pretty – 79 incidents in the last 6 months. Some are small but others are for extended periods of time.

    1. Ramsay

      If you’re having regular down time like that I’d look at your throttling and talk to your server admin. It might be time to switch hosts if that keeps happening and you have no real reason why.

  • Manikanta

    Thanks Ramsay,
    Straight to the point
    will surely follow these points
    this post is really helpful
    thanks again

    1. Ramsay

      Please let me know how you go.

  • Cheryl

    Thank you so much for the information! Mine came in at 2.6.

    1. Ramsay

      Not too bad. Can you get it down to 1 second?

  • Ryan Biddulph

    Excellent tips Ramsay.

    In this case, speed DOES NOT kill πŸ˜‰ Having a faster loading site changed my blogging prospects overnight. I rhymed without trying πŸ™‚ Cut out all the non essential stuff. Stop loading heavy pictures. Pay $5 or $10 extra a month for a really good hosting company and plan, and grow a rocking, inspired blog.

    Thanks for sharing!


  • Andrew

    Hey Ramsay,

    Excellent point and post. Site speed is truly important and every opportunity should be taken to make sure your site is as fast as possible.

    I’m in the process of looking to change my entire site abound and do a site redesign and when I do, site speed will be at the forefront.

    – Andrew

  • Theodore Nwangene

    Great post Ramsay,
    The loading time of a blog is really a very important factor that will determine how people will view the blog.

    If you have a slow loading blog, it will really be causing you lots of problem including but not limited to loosing your readers, loosing money and having a poor conversion rate.

    That is why its really important for every website owner to pay adequate attention to his blog loading time.

  • Keyur

    Nice Post. Love to Read more posts like this.

  • Ethel Paderes

    Thanks Ramsay! Site speed, indeed, is a vital factor. I, myself, will hit X if the site won’t load fast. Thanks for the tips, will give it a try. πŸ˜‰

  • Akaahan Terungwa

    Hi Ramsay,

    I really became obsessed with site speed when I figured out speed is damn important to both bots and humans…after many changes, I got my primary site to load under a second.

    The funny bit is that many of the services tracking speed are the most unreliable. When I landed on your page, I checked my speed again and saw something different. Then I checked yours – against your posted screenshot and also saw something different too…Can we really rely on these services as the ultimate test of speed?

    Personally, I now manually check with various browsers to be sure the testing sites aren’t pulling my legs πŸ™‚

    Do enjoy the day.

    Akaahan Terungwa

  • Crowdfunding Blog

    I totally agree about site speed! It can really affect your site and readers if it’s not up to speed.

    People nowadays have a short attention span and slow sites will just be passed up.

  • aatif

    Nice Post. I appreciate your effort

  • M.D. Creekmore

    Site speed is important, but no matter what you do to try and speed up a site, if you have poor hosting then it won’t do much good.

    What is surprising is that people use social media instead of starting their own blogs and website, below is linked to a recent article about how I did it and built that blog into a full-time income stream.


  • Thomas Charlie

    Wow, very useful. For those who don’t have the luck to work alongside someone who deals with these stuff, this can be a very frustrating issue. And it does help a lot when speed is improved. Even affiliate sales go up a bit as we’ve noticed on our site.

    Honestly, I would consider changing or leaving that ad network if that is the main problem. It might be really affecting a lot of other things.

  • Andy

    Thanks for the tutorial, for image optimization, tinypng.com and resizeimage.net are good services too.

  • Manikanta

    Hello Ramsay,
    yes Site Speed is really very important
    the improvements points you mentioned are awesome
    have already followed a few
    trying to get a CDN to my site
    thanks for the share