If you didn’t consider speed when picking your WordPress Theme…
In my research on SEO for a small website, one topic I came across a few times was experts saying that my site should have a “modern design” and that it needs to be “mobile ready”. The writers of these articles almost always mention website responsiveness, speed, and loading times.
Websites should load in under 1 second!!
Said many of the articles I read…referring to short attention spans, mobile internet speeds, etc.
With my past websites, I would dabble in trying to make my site a little more lightweight, but I never really cared too much. If it loaded in a couple seconds then I was good.
However, a couple years ago I came across this website speed test over at Pingdom.com. It opened my eyes as to how slow some sites are, including my own past blogs!
But no more!!
After a bit of research, and some fiddling with various WordPress themes, I’ve found a theme that has significantly sped up my own site. I also adopted some tools and tips on things to consider when trying to make your website faster. While load speed isn’t quite the same as mobile SEO…if your SEO is amazing but your site won’t load, will people read it?
WordPress hosting and themes aren’t just for the little guys either. Here are some pretty big sites and companies that use WordPress.
The New Yorker
The Official Star Wars Blog
What is a WordPress Theme?
Essentially the theme you pick is the layout of your website. According to WordPress…
a theme is a collection of templates and stylesheets used to define the appearance and display of a WordPress powered website.
This is basically how your site will look and your theme will dictates how your readers will interact with your site. If things are not laid out well, your bounce rate (when people come to your site and leave without clicking around) will be much higher.
Why Does a WP Theme Matter?
Design matters but not 100%. This is largely because you probably don’t want your website to look like something from the 90s…unless that is what you’re going for. You will want to get your site looking like you want, and how you want people to interact with it…but load speed will be a HUGE component of your initial traffic inlet…or at least what lands people on your front page or keeps them reading your blog link they clicked. You are MUCH MORE LIKELY to have someone come to and browse your website (or conduct a session as Google Analytics calls it) if it loads as fast as possible when they click that link.
I mentioned Pingdom.com and the speed test tool that it has. If you are curious, try out your own site, then try out some of the one I listed below in that speed test tool. (Or just look at the results for each that I screenshot and put below)
I was surprised when I saw that my website got the best grade out of all of them. Especially Daring Fireball, as John Gruber is known for his take on design and simplicity. Yet, as you can see…if you are a giant news outlet or popular apple blogger…you don’t have to worry about it as much because in the end…
Content is King
How do I pick a good WP Theme?
First it helps to have a vague idea of what you want. Don’t be afraid to preview a WP theme for your site and go ahead and activate it, throw your URL in to the Website Speed Test tool and see how it does. Make sure you write down what your current theme is so you can switch back if you don’t like the ones you are testing, and I would also do this in the off hours of when your readers normally come to your site. (Google Analytics has a great readout for higher traffic hours if connected with your site)
Read some of what Pingdom.com says is slowing your site down (large images, url redirects, etc) and see if you can find ways to improve in those areas. Or…find a theme that does those for you, like I did.
I use the Hermes Theme by Themes Harbour and it was mostly by accident that I realized how fast it was. I was actually looking for a specific design, tried this one a few others out (Canard, Verity, Dyad 2, Carbon) and once I saw this one in action I was sold. I had to customize it with some of my own CSS to tweak it to my liking, but that is a post for another day.
Ultimately it’s what you want…and I used to accept that C or D grade as long my site looked the way I wanted. Now, with more than 50% of internet searches generated via a mobile device, mobile SEO and site design has never been more important.
One of the things I mentioned in my Sunday post about my current Amazon Affiliate failures, was the fact that I’ve never really done my homework on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
As this has finally caught my attention, I will be sharing what I learn as a complete and utter newbie in this arena. One thing I’ve seen quickly, is that there is TONS of experts on this.
Another YouTuber (Irene Iron Fitness) and I have emailed back and forth a bit after we stumbled across each others’ videos. If you are curious about RV travel around the US and how to cook and stay fit at the same time, this is a great channel to check out.
Aaron (the husband) was gracious enough to shoot me an email with some research he did on YouTube/Website SEO…I’ll be writing about his advice soon. One person (on YouTube) he pointed me too was Neil Patel.
Rather than re-hash what Neil says in his video, I thought I’d share one in which he talks about a bunch of free tools – some of which I’d already discovered, some not. His titles are a bit click bait-ish…but his content is good and broken down well.
These free tools seem like a great place to start. If you have any others please let me know!!