Ezoic Leap: Improving your niche site speed & reduce load time

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  11/02/2021

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If you want your niche blog to be a success, you need a website that loads quickly. A fast-loading niche site has happier visitors and it also helps you rank higher on Google.

Especially now that most visitors come to your site via mobile and Google has transferred all sites to mobile indexing.

Nobody likes typing in an address and waiting forever for the page to load. A page that loads painfully slow has a negative impact on visitors. Time is of the essence.

In fact, a fast loading website is now more important than ever because Google has made it a factor of search engine ranking.

And now even more than before since we are dealing with the Core Web Vitals, with which Google measures whether your users have a good experience on your site, and do not have to wait too long for it to load.

Many of these tips can be implemented manually, and I’ve tested a lot in them.

In the end, I opted for an all-in-one solution, mainly because I also display ads on many of my blogs, and this Sitespeed Accelerator from Ezoic helps my blogs load much faster.

Many of the features can be activated for free, such as free CDN via Cloudflare, which will already improve your site speed a lot.

Plus they have a free tool to analyze your speed to see how you can optimize it:

Sitespeed accelerator van Ezoic test tool

(test it for free)

7 easy steps to improve your loading time

Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)

Hosting your media files on a content delivery network is one of the best ways to speed up your site, and can often save up to 60% bandwidth and halve the number of requests your website makes.

CDNs work by hosting your files through a large network of servers around the world. When a user visits your site from the Netherlands, they download files from the server closest to them, often in Amsterdam.

You can then choose a hosting provider, but these are sometimes unnecessarily expensive, plus what do you do if you also get traffic from other countries?

Because the bandwidth is spread over so many different servers, it reduces the load on a single server and also protects your sites from DDoS attacks and traffic spikes.

I’ve tested a few CDNs including MaxCDN, Cloudwatch, Static DNA, and Cloudflare. Cloudflare is of course our favorite (and is free to start with).

Plus Cloudflare integrates perfectly with Ezoic (full review here) to get the fastest loading times, even when you want to show ads on your website or blog.

You can integrate with an existing Cloudflare account, or you can sign up with Ezoic and use their integration for free to use Cloudflare CDN, it couldn’t be easier!

Use a fast hosting

While researching my guide to the best web hosting, I set up response time monitoring for a range of different web hosting companies.

I just opened an account, uploaded a blank WordPress site with an identical theme, and then used a server monitoring tool to test the response time every five minutes.

9/10 of the web hosts I tested had a response time of 600ms – 1300ms.

WPXhosting’s server response time was 293 ms. Yes, it’s not the cheapest web hosting solution, but it’s one of the few hosting companies that really justifies the price.

And I’ve tried a lot of other hosting providers over the years, such as:

Hostnet
namecheap
Savvi
hostgator
bluehost
site ground

And a whole lot more. Searching for a fast hosting can be a daunting task.

But if you’ve found the right ones, it can save you a lot of loading time, and they work perfectly with CMS solutions like WordPress.

Plus you can choose for a server in Europe or one in America, and that along with a good CDN will help you improve your loading times.

If I could go back 5 years and do one thing differently it would be to start using WPX Hosting sooner as not only has it made my sites significantly faster but the security and workflow improvements have helped me so much saved headaches.

Changing web hosts may not be something you can do in less than 45 minutes, but it can have a bigger impact than all the tweaks below combined.

My advice? If you’re using a mid-range or low-end web hosting company, stop reading, get started with a host like WPX, and come back later if you’re still having page speed issues.

Check the packages by WPX Hosting here

Use a caching plugin

If you use WordPress, one of the quickest and easiest ways to slow down your page loading speed is to install a caching plugin like WP Total Cache or WP Super Cache.

Of course, if you’re using WPX Hosting, you can skip this point as they have built-in caching that they install, or using Ezoic Sitespeed Accelerator already does extensive caching.

Both plugins mentioned above are free to download and very good. Despite their name, caching plugins do much more than browser caching, although that is their primary function.

I’ll go over the benefits and how to add browser caching in an instant without a plugin, but for those who use WordPress and want to improve page speed quickly, it’s often easier to just install a plugin.

Add Expires headers to use browser caching

If you don’t use WordPress, or if you’d rather not install another plugin to add Expires Headers and browser caching, here’s how to implement it manually.

Expires headers tell the browser whether to request a specific file from the web server or to retrieve a version of a page from the browser’s cache.

Of course, this only applies if a user has already cached a version of your webpage, so it will only speed up your site for users who have already visited your website.

Expires headers speed up your site in two ways.

First, they reduce the need for users to download the same files twice from your web server.
Second, it reduces the number of HTTP requests that need to be made, making page load times even faster.

Adding Expires Headers is extremely easy. you only need to follow the instructions by GTMetrix to add a snippet of code to your .htaccess file.

Use a good theme (if you use WordPress)

Prevention is usually a better strategy than cure.

To avoid a lot of page speed issues in the first place, you need to choose a good host, a good CDN and a good theme/design.

This applies to WordPress themes, but also to other CMS (Content Management Platforms) where you can buy or choose a theme, such as SEOshop / Lightspeed, Shopify and much more.

As a digital marketer, it’s frustrating when web designers build sites that look great but perform terribly from an SEO or speed perspective.

Today, the problem is no better or worse than it was five years ago. When I started SEO, designers were still using flash and other primitive technologies to build sites.

Today, designers have built WordPress themes with so many bells and whistles that it’s no wonder they take 10 seconds to load.

When choosing a theme, when in doubt, go minimal.

Less loading time with smaller images

There are many ways to make your website load faster. But one of the most important things you can do is optimize your images.

The best plugin I’ve found for this, and I’ve tested many from Autooptimize to Smush, is this plugin from Shortpixel.

According to Akamai, images make up 63% of the file size of an average website. Since they are such a big part of your site, finding ways to reduce their size will make a big difference to your website loading time.

To help you optimize images on your WordPress site with ease, I decided to share this ShortPixel review to show you how this plugin can easily optimize your site’s images.

In my testing, ShortPixel was able to reduce the size of my images by 70-80% without a noticeable drop in image quality.

And depending on how many images you need to optimize per month, you might not even have to pay anything to use ShortPixel.

You should also consider using a CDN in conjunction with image compression to further speed up your WordPress blog.

That’s why I’ve been using the CloudFlare Ezoic integration for the past two years in addition to resizing images with Shortpixel, and am very satisfied.

Clean up your database

One of the pitfalls with WordPress is that your database can become very cluttered very quickly due to saved drafts, post revisions, deactivated plugins etc.

WP Optimize is a fantastic plugin that routinely removes all the stuff you don’t need and pollutes your database.

After running this on my blogs, I managed to reduce the database from 5mb to 3mb, which makes the browser collect and return files from the database faster.

Compress your website with gzip

Gzip is a simple method of compressing your website’s files to save bandwidth and speed up page loading time.

Gzip works by compressing your files into a zip file, which allows the user’s browser to load faster.

The user’s browser then extracts the file and displays its contents. This method of sending content from the server to the browser is much more efficient and saves a lot of time.

You can enable Gzip by simply adding the following code to your .htaccess file:

# compress text, html, javascript, css, xml:
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text / plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application /xhtml + xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application /rss + xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript

# Or compress certain file types by extension:

SetOutputFilter DEFLATE
To check if Gzip is enabled or working properly on your site, you can use Gziptest.com.

Minify your CSS and JS files (Minify)

If you look at what is causing your pages to load slowly, chances are it has to do with a lot of clunky Javascript files or CSS that load inefficiently.

One of the pitfalls of WordPress and other content management systems is that almost every time you install a new plugin, a new JS or CSS file is added.

There are several ways to shrink your files, and Ezoic does this for you too.

But there are also other ways.

The first way is to compress all your files – so instead of calling ten separate javascript files, you just put all your javascript in one file.

The second aspect of shrinking involves removing white space and making your files smaller.

If you use WordPress, WP Minify is a great plugin that does all this for you automatically.

Replace PHP with static HTML whenever possible

PHP is great for making your site efficient and reducing the need to enter the same information multiple times.

However, calling information through PHP consumes a lot of server resources and should be replaced by static HTML where it saves no time.

Disable pingbacks and trackbacks in WordPress

Pingbacks and trackbacks are of little practical use in WordPress, and yet they are often enabled by default.

I recommend disabling both as they clog up your database and increase the number of requests being made.

Put CSS at the top and JS at the bottom

It is considered good practice to place your CSS as close to the top of your page as possible, as browsers will not render your page before the CSS file is rendered.

Javascript, on the other hand, should be as close to the bottom as possible because it prevents browsers from parsing after the tag before it loads and finishes.

Disable all plugins you don’t use

With WordPress sites, plugins are usually the biggest culprit for slowing down the site. If there are any plugins you no longer use or are not essential, remove them.

Why page speed is more important now than ever before

Since the use of mobile internet has long overtaken desktop use, it has never been more important than now to improve the speed of your site.

Plus it’s becoming more and more ranking signals that Google and other search engines use, if not in the Core Web Vitals, then simply in the user experience on your site.

Internet users are less tolerant of slow websites than ever before.

Again, I use Shortpixel to lighten the heavy lifting of the images, and also use Ezoic to make my websites lightning fast.

In any case, it is clear that speed and loading time are extremely important for your website and especially for your visitors and their experience with you and your brand.

Joost Nusselder is The Content Decoder, a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new tools en tactics. He's been working on a portfolio of niche sites since 2010. Now since 2016 he creates in-depth blog articles together with his team to help loyal readers earn from their own succesful sites.