Tracking is extremely important. If you don’t track your rankings and traffic, you can’t spot the issues with your website.
What pages do the users leave quickly? You know you can improve those first, especially if the search volume for them is high!
Also, if you don’t monitor your organic search traffic you can’t know if you’re making any progress and, worse, you won’t know if the search engines penalized you or your rankings have dropped.
You can use Google Search Console and Google Analytics to monitor your organic search traffic and issues with your pages. They’re fairly easy to install as long as you have access to your server. You might even be able to install them via a plugin for your CMS. I recommend using Google Tag Manager to implement all tracking codes. They will be easier to manage afterwards.
If you want to go to the next level, you can try things like HotJar, which creates a heatmap of where your users click most on a page. However, that’s a lot harder to understand and improve correctly, so an experienced person is required.
Although images have the most impact, there are other elements that can affect your site’s loading speed. Most of the time it’s related to files, but other times it can be because of PHP conflicts or database queries taking very long to load.
To avoid conflicts and slow database loading times, you can try and limit your plugin use to the very minimal. Do you have a lot of unnecessary plugins and extensions? Get rid of them. Do you think something looks nice on your site, but you rarely every use it or it provides little value? Get rid of it.
You can start by removing your slider plugin, for example. Replace the slider with a static image and a CTA button. Why? Well, it turns out that sliders kinda suck! People rarely click on those offers, they take up a lot of space and resources and they can be very annoying when you’re reading something and the image shifts automatically.
Some other things you can do to increase your site’s speed include having a great hosting provider and minimizing the resources needed to load a page. You can use PageSpeed Insights and GT Metrix to monitor these issues.
Some are easy to fix and some are not. For example, a caching and file minification plugin like W3 Total Cache (for WordPress) can be useful. You can use this guide to set it up properly. However, beware of possible CSS and JS issues and conflicts that might mess up your design and functionality. Usually, disabling minification will fix the issue, but have a backup of your files and database before you change anything!
In Page Speed Insights check your server’s response time. If multiple tests show that the response time is over 2.5 seconds, you can consider switching to a better hosting provider.
You should also take a look at this Technical OnPage SEO Guide. Not everything there is easy to implement, but considering that it’s OnPage SEO, you have complete control over it, so it’s worth doing!
Images take up the most physical space on your server. That means they also take the most physical space on your user’s device, which means they also take the most time to load.
Slow loading times greatly impact your conversions and images really take the longest to load.
There are two ways an image takes up too much space. First, it’s not compressed in its physical size on the disk. So you can have two images that look the same, but one has 1MB and the other has one fifth of a MB.
How is this possible? Well, I’m not sure how image compression works, but it makes images smaller in size on the disk without reducing their size or quality on the screen. You can use plugins such as Smush for WordPress, or image compression tools like ShortPixel which have APIs. You can also compress your images every time you upload them using TinyPNG. If you can’t connect a tool, just download batches of images (if you don’t have thousands) compress them and then reupload them to your server.
Then, of course, you have the size on the screen. A 2000 by 2000 pixels image will take up more physical disk space than a 500 by 500 pixels image. Therefore, don’t load a 2000x2000px image and shrink it to 500x500px using CSS. The browser will have to download an image 4 times larger than it needs.
To make this work with responsive designs, you can research the “srcset” HTML attribute. You can use it to only download specific images on specific screen sizes.