A speedy, well-optimized site is a crucial investment in the long-term health of your site. A fast-loading site means a great reader experience and top earning potential!
The ultimate goal is to serve your readers well. Your readers want your valuable content, Google wants to show people search results that give people what they’re looking for with the absolute best experience, and advertisers want engaged readers. When you’re able to deliver valuable content quickly and efficiently, everyone wins!
People sometimes blame ads when a site has a slow loading time, but your AdThrive ads are optimized to have the least-possible effect on your site speed. You can read more about that here: Are my ads slowing down my site?
When your site loads quickly, your ads will too! Here are some steps you can take to streamline your page loading time and help your site operate as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Note: many of these tips are geared towards sites using WordPress.
Speed Up Your Site
1. Use a high-quality host
This is one of the best, most worthwhile investments you can make in your business! All hosts are not created equal. The cheapest hosting options tend to share resources in a way that allows other people’s sites to affect how your site performs.
We recommend using a host that basically puts your site in its own “container” so that while it may be on a server shared with others, the resources (and security) your site receives are completely unaffected by what’s going on with other sites.
High-quality, WordPress-focused hosts also tend to stay up with the latest technologies which is crucial for performance and security. Just like you update your phone’s software and your site’s plugins, it’s important that your host updates the software running on their servers (e.g. PHP and MySQL).
And in general, you’ll receive better support with better (and more expensive) hosts.
We have special hosting discounts available for AdThrive publishers! Check them out here.
2. Keep your plugins and widgets to a minimum
It’s a good practice to do a regular ‘plugin audit’ on your site. This is where you take a look at all of the plugins, widgets, and any kind of ‘add-ons’ you have installed and decide whether they are worth keeping. Plugins can cause your site to load more slowly, so only keep them if they provide critical functionality.
We have a whole article that will guide you through how to evaluate your plugins and widgets, with recommendations on which to keep and which to delete. Check it out here: How do I perform a plugin audit?
3. Optimize your images
Big, beautiful images are essential for most sites, but if they are not optimized, they can really slow things down for your readers, especially those on mobile devices and slow internet connections. Here’s what we recommend:
- Compression: Compressing your images makes your file size smaller, and it can be done on your computer before uploading images to your site, or through a plugin when you upload the image to your site. Try to shoot for about 100kb or smaller in size per image.
- Display size: In general, save your photos to the dimensions they will display on your site, and pick the most appropriate size when you insert an image into a post, sidebar widget, etc. Browsers load the full-sized image or whichever image size you select, and then they resize the image to fit the space available. Just like with compression, you can do this on your computer before uploading images to your site.
- Image optimization plugins: WP Smush, Shortpixel, and Imagify do a good job of compressing and/or resizing images. Imagify and Shortpixel both offer a browser-based tool, as well.
- Check your work: https://webspeedtest.cloudinary.com/ is a great resource to see how you’re doing with your image compression. It will point out images that could be compressed further as well as images that are loading larger than they are being displayed.
4. Use caching
In order to generate all the different pieces of the page, your site makes requests back and forth to the database. When caching is set up properly, content loads much more quickly for readers and minimizes the load on your server because it can serve a “pre-built” page that doesn’t rely on requests back and forth to the database.
Caching is best done at the server level, so we recommend reaching out to your host to make sure as much as possible is loading from cache. Certain hosts take care of the majority of caching on their end, making an additional plugin unnecessary.
If you do decide to use a caching plugin, work with your host to determine the best configuration for your caching plugin that will enhance, not work against, your host’s caching setup.
5. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A CDN caches your site content and delivers it to your readers via servers that are geographically close, which can really help speed up your page load time for each reader! CloudFlare offers an entry-level plan that's totally free, while the Pro level plan is $20/month. CloudFlare includes image optimization in the Pro level plans and higher.
CDNs are typically used to serve the larger parts of your pages like images, but it’s also possible to set up a CDN like Cloudflare to serve cached full copies of your pages, so the entire page gets delivered from the nearest Cloudflare datacenter to each reader, greatly reducing your server load and speeding up response times. More info here.
An important note: we do not recommend the Rocket Loader functionality of CloudFlare, as it conflicts with your AdThrive ad code and hurts your ad earnings. You can easily turn off this feature in your CloudFlare settings.
6. Optimize your site's code
Your site loading is like a group of people who all need to pass through a doorway. When your site’s code is optimized, it helps everyone walk through the doorway efficiently and in the correct order. That way, things that are lower-priority don’t block the page from loading quickly.
WP Rocket and Autoptimize are great options for optimizing the loading order of your site’s files, and properly configured, they will minify (remove all unnecessary spaces) and rearrange your site’s code to make the total download size smaller and make sure things load in the right order.
- Steer clear of iframe optimization or iframe lazy loading, since your AdThrive ads all load through iframes.
7. Make sure your site is on the latest version of PHP
PHP is the language that communicates between the server and the database. If you’re not on the latest version (currently 7.3), updating to it will give you a major site speed boost instantaneously — up to twice as fast depending on how far behind your server is! You can ask your host what version of PHP your site is on.
If you do need to upgrade, you can run the PHP Compatibility Checker plugin first to check for any red flags that could mean aspects of your site aren’t going to be compatible. It’s probably not worth keeping any plugins that aren’t compatible, so we recommend removing them completely or finding a replacement that is more regularly updated!
8. Keep it simple
A simple, clean site often provides a better (and faster) user experience. Here are a few more tips:
- Show excerpts instead of full posts on your homepage. This is not the same as showing excerpts in your feed. You can still show your entire posts in your RSS feed, even if your homepage only shows excerpts.
- Optimize your sidebar. Our article on optimizing your sidebar provides some more great tips on removing elements that increase your load time. Bonus- a shorter sidebar can help your sticky sidebar ad increase its earnings!
We want to help you make the browsing experience great for people visiting your site because they are the most important part of the whole deal! Keeping things fast and efficient keeps your readers happy and coming back for more, which is the best strategy for long term earnings.