Shane McDonald Facebook pixel
How to setup WordPress caching and image optimisation your website

How to setup WordPress caching and image optimisation your website

I recently ran a Google test on my site to check how friendly my site was. This test checks how fast your site loads and gives a percentage score so you know how good or bad your website ranks. When I checked www.shanemcdonald.ie I got a score of 32%. I knew I had to do something as Google could use page speed as a ranking factor. I did some research into WordPress caching plugins and found some interesting information.

Not all WordPress Caching plugins are the same. Some work better than others. These Wp-cache plugins varied in functionality and success. The one WordPress caching plugin which stood out WP Fastest Cache. I also found that it works best with Autoptimize and the image compression plugin Imagify.

I installed the first two WordPress caching plugins which help minify the .js and .css files on your site. They also .gz compress some other files to help your site load faster.

All of these plugins can be added using the WordPress Dashboard by clicking ‘Add New’ and running a search. If you are using the very latest WordPress version, then your plugin should auto-install. Once installed you can activate it from the plugins section. Note, you may need to adjust settings before any changes become visible. Most plugins have default values or no active values on activation.

The Google score was now 54% which was an improvement already.

Finally, I installed Imagify which compressed the images I already had on the server. Note, this was only done up to a certain limit. I get another limit of about 15Mb in 1 months time. A premium version of Imagify is available which gets rid of this limit.

After the WordPress caching plugins and the image compression plugin was installed and configured the Google score was at 75%. This was an increase of 43% points from 32%. This was 2.3 times better than the previous score. Hopefully, this will help reduce bounce rate and increase visits and visitor time to the site. Since I wrote this, I have added 2 new posts and the images I used are not fully optimised so there has been a drop in score but I now know the areas where I need to optimise on the website.

I am also running this optimisation on my photoblog at www.shanemcdonald.me and I will be posting the results and more details in the coming weeks. I am using the same WordPress caching plugins and the same image compression plugin. It should be interesting to see the effect on google analytics.

I have placed links to the WordPress caching plugins below.

WP Fastest Cache – https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-fastest-cache/

Autoptimize – https://wordpress.org/plugins/autoptimize/

Imagify – https://imagify.io/

 

If you have any comments or questions regarding these plugins for WordPress caching, minifying or optimisation plugins please leave them below… If you liked this post on “How to setup WordPress caching and image optimisation your WordPress website or Blog” please share it on social media with the sharing links provided.

Update to my photo blog shanemcdonald.me

Update to my photo blog shanemcdonald.me

I have been running a photo blog since 2010 on www.shanemcdonald.me .Over the past 3 years, I have not given it as much attention as I did at the start. With this in mind, I have just redesigned the whole layout of the site.

New Photo Blog additions

Firstly the homepage is a full-screen photo. This is important to show off my photos. For years I hated the fact that the photos were not as big as they could be. The front page also scrolls to give more information about the photo blog and my photography.

The blog pages are a bit nicer to read now. I stripped out a lot of widgets which added little to the user experience. The next step for the blog pages is to increase the content. I hope to have a weekly post now for this photoblog section.

The Instagram section is back up and running. A previous plugin stopped working and no longer displayed my @shanesphoto Instagram feed. Not it looks a lot better and pulls live images from my Instagram.

Photo Blog Design Challenges

One of the problems I had when I first redesigned the site was the size. Google rated it as zero on the mobile-friendly grader. There were far too many requests and the images were too large.

By adding some caching software, minifying plugins and an image optimiser the site was suddenly rated a lot better. It is now at an acceptable rating on Google but some extra tweaks in September should see it improve further.

Future Improvements

I hope to add a new gallery and some other features to further enhance the site. I have a lot of photos not uploaded so there’s plenty of content to come. The site has done very well for me in the last year and in October 2018, Shane McDonald Photography blog won a Silver Blog Award at the Blog Awards Ireland which were held in Dublin on 25th October 2018.

If you wish to view the new photography site it is at www.shanemcdonald.me

 

WordPress SEO – Some Simple Tips for better SEO

WordPress SEO – Some Simple Tips for better SEO

WordPress & SEO

I just learned of something WordPress SEO related which might be hampering your attempts to get good levels of traffic to your site if you are using WordPress. This is a great WordPress SEO tip.

One of the best things about WordPress is that you can add a category or two to your post. It turns out that listing your blog post under more than one category might be considered as duplicate content in Googles eyes and your site may be penalised.

I will be posting under only 1 category for a while to see if this helps with the site traffic / SEO on the site.

Any comments – please add them below to discuss the search tricks you use for WordPress SEO. I am trying this on this site, shanemcdonald.ie and hopefully, it will help my SEO efforts.

Also, if you are adding Tags to your site and you have tags which only have one or two posts this could cause issues also. Consider this, your site has 300 posts and you have a blog post with a recipe and a WordPress tag called ‘recipe’. If this tag has never been used on your site apart from this one time, then this tag remains with 1 post attached to it. This doesn’t really have any real impact on your site’s SEO. Perhaps a better approach might be to add this into a tag such as ‘Lifestyle’ or ‘Food’ which might have a higher post count.

If you are working on your WordPress sites SEO then you should also consider SEO plugins such as Yoast or the All in One SEO plugin. I have used both plugins but I can tell you that Yoast works a bit better for my 3 sites. Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress also connects to Google Search Console. As a result, your WordPress SEO can benefit from things like Google and Bing Authentication and also notifications about soft 404 errors and much more.

One final SEO tip for WordPress users is to install caching and speed optimisation plugins. Take a read of this blog post ‘How to setup WordPress caching and image optimisation your website‘.  I saw an improvement in Bounce Rate reduction and also organic SEO visits. Search Engine Optimisation is an ongoing thing for bloggers and website owners and WordPress has many features to take the pain out of this for you.

If you have any comments on website or WordPress SEO Tips please leave a comment below. 

WordPress SEO – Some Simple Tips for better SEO

5 ways to secure your WordPress Blog & avoid downtime

Securing WordPress

There are millions of WordPress blogs around the world. If you host WordPress yourself you will know that there is often some maintenance to be done. However, many people don’t know and many security issues can affect their blog. Most self-hosted bloggers are surprised to find out that there were things they could have done to prevent the downtime. These are 5 ways to secure your WordPress Blog & avoid downtime. My shanemcdonald.ie site is based on WordPress and rarely do I have issues.

1) Update your WordPress Plugins

Your hosted WordPress installation will have some plugins installed and from time to time these will be patched, improved and in some cases be given security improvements. You will know if an update is due on your WordPress plugins as a circle with a number will appear after the Plugins section on the left hand column of your WordPress Dashboard. Simply click into the Plugins section, select the plugins for upgrade and hit the Upgrade button. It is a straight forward process which is worth checking for every few days.

If you are finished using or no longer use a certain WordPress plugin, delete it from your system. It reduced clutter and also other risks of unsecured plugins.

2) Check your WordPress Installation Updates

Occasionally WordPress itself will be upgraded, at the time of writing this post version 3.4.2 of WordPress is the latest stable release. You will know if an upgrade for WordPress is available as it will be highlighted across the Top of your WordPress Dashboard. This Notification should not be ignored as it usually gives security improvements plus new features. The WordPress upgrade process may include a database backup advisory so if you don’t back up your WordPress databases you should and there are some excellent plugins which allow you to do this.

3) Check for WordPress Framework Updates

If you use purchased or 3rd party WordPress Themes, these may come with a Theme Framework. These framework updates are sometimes overlooked and people don’t even know they are there. Most often if you click Appearance -> Themes you may see an extra dropdown for Update Framework…this may also appear further down the Dashboard left column under Theme Options. you should always know what theme you are working with so that you don’t inadvertently delete or change settings for the theme – also if you are on twitter / the web you may see notifications or alerts for certain themes saying that updates are available for potential security loopholes etc.

4) Check your file and directory Permissions

This is one of the biggest problems on sites which have been attacked or hacked – people don’t set the correct permissions on files and folders. Setting permissions using chmod 777 which is read, write and execute for everyone is one way of asking for trouble. Its like leaving your backdoor open and wondering why you got robbed. There are plenty of tutorials online which explain file permissions and correctly set permissions allow WordPress and you (as the web admin) access, but no-one else.

5) WordPress Table naming and Admin usernames

One other way of protecting WordPress is when installing the system to avoid calling your tables wp_ (this is the default for WordPress) and also by not allocating admin as the username but by choosing something else. This helps avoid attacks on known tables / usernames.

Conclusion

Hopefully, these 5 ways to secure your WordPress Blog will help you avoid downtime. It might help you maintain a safer installation of WordPress, the worlds best Blogging software.