Site Speed Is Money – How I Earnt $30,587 In 6 Hours

Site Speed Is Money – How I Earnt $30,587 In 6 Hours

Your slow website is costing you more money than you think.

A one second delay in load time decreases conversions by 7%!

But what does that actually translate into for this blog specifically?

Let’s take a look at the conversion loss calculator to measure how much money the blog is missing out on every day because of page-load times.

I suggest you do it for your own site as well!

Woah! So reducing site speed by 3 seconds will result in an extra $29,076 per year profit!

Even if I could reduce it by just a second I can make an extra $8,988 a year!

That’s a whole bunch of money I’m leaving on the table! More than some people earn in a year that I’m throwing away by not making a few simple changes.

There are numerous case studies and reports on how site speed directly influences conversion rate.

How To Measure Site Speed

You can use a couple of free tools to measure the speed of your site from various locations.

  • WebPageTest.org – This has a huge amount of locations and browser choices.
  • Pingdom – A much simpler / lightweight approach to testing your site speed.

I actually use both tools to measure my sites speed. I use WebPageTest after each optimisation step to ensure I haven’t increased the load time by mistake and I use Pingdom before and after the speed optimisation is complete.

You also need to consider where your audience is located – for the most part my readers are USA/UK based with India taking the 3rd spot so I made sure I measured the site speed from each of those locations.

How To Make Your Site Load Faster

So now you know how slow your website is and how much money your losing everyday it’s time to fix that!

Here is my original Pingdom test-

And here is the same test, from the same location after my optimisation-

I reduced my load time by 4.37 seconds to just half a second which puts me at least $29,076 better off this year.

Not bad for a day’s work!

So let’s take a look at exactly what I did to achieve that and precisely how each step affected load time.

Testing Details

For the purpose of the granular testing after making each change I used WebPageTest.org.

The reason for this is because it allows me to test from more locations with different browsers and run 5 tests back to back to get an ‘average’ result.

I decided to monitor how my changes affected 3 key pages of the site-

Original Performance

Before we start the test let’s measure how each of the 3 pages currently perform.

PageMiamiLondonDelhi
Home5.682s5.121s7.022s
Tutorial7.974s9.682s9.127s
Forum5.802s5.583s6.728s

Update WordPress & Plugins

The first step in my speed optimisation was to update to the latest version of WordPress and update all of the plugins.

Always make a backup of your site before doing this or making any other changes to your site.

To perform the updates just click on Dashboard > Updates and follow the instructions

Time Saved

PageMiamiTime SavingLondonTime SavingDelhiTime Saving
Home5.293s-0.389s4.772s-0.349s6.492s-0.530s
Tutorial7.799s-0.175s8.173s-1.509s9.127s-0.103s
Forum5.894s+0.092s5.594s+0.011s6.520s-0.208s

Well that took about 60 seconds to do and already the site is loading 0.35 seconds faster on average across all of the tests.

Just another 0.65 seconds towards the first 1 second goal which is worth $8,988 to me!

WPEngine

Update: Please read my WPEngine update.

Next I decided it was time to move away from my cheap shared hosting to a much more robust and professional host.

After a lot of research and reading I settled on WPEngine.com – WordPress & speed is their specialty.

They have some fantastic features such as a CDN, automatic daily backups, one click backup/restore, separate ‘staging’ area to test changes without affecting the live site and a bunch of other stuff.

They have their own custom written hardware based caching system so there is no need for separate caching plugins like W3 Total Cache for example.

The servers run Nginx which is much faster than Apache and resources scale based on demand so your site never slows down even if it hits big spikes of traffic.

And last but not least, they were providing near instant support on Christmas Day!

But how did the move affect the load time of the site?

Time Saved

PageMiamiTime SavingLondonTime SavingDelhiTime Saving
Home3.888s-1.405s4.166s-0.606s5.646s-0.846s
Tutorial6.788s-1.011s4.527s-3.646s7.304s-1.720s
Forum4.764s-1.130s4.966s-0.628s5.82s-0.700s

WOW! – That’s an average saving of 1.299 seconds!

Just a 1 second improvement is worth $8,988 a year, so a 1.299 second improvement is worth about $11,600!

Not bad for a $29 per month investment & it took less than an hour to move my blog over to WPEngine!

Total Time Saved – 1.649 seconds
Total Extra Income – $14,821

Content Delivery Network

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) helps speed up your site by making sure things like your CSS and image files are mirrored all over the world.

So when someone in India requests your webpage they connect to a local server in India making things nice and fast!

This is a great way to ensure your site loads quickly no matter where the user is in the world!

It costs an extra $19.95 per month with WPEngine on their cheapest package and is included free of charge on all others.

Time Saved

PageMiamiTime SavingLondonTime SavingDelhiTime Saving
Home3.476s-0.412s3.762s-0.404s5.040s-0.606s
Tutorial6.237s-0.551s4.258s-0.269s6.439s-0.865s
Forum4.204s-0.560s4.133s-0.833s5.378s-0.442s

So with the CDN enabled we managed to shave an extra 0.549 seconds off the load time! So far so good and that takes us past the 2 second savings goal!

Total Time Saved – 2.198 seconds
Total Extra Income – $20,840

Remove Facebook Comments

I have thought about removing the Facebook comments system quite a lot recently for a number of reasons. Originally I used Facebook comments with the intention of them driving extra traffic from Facebook, Social activity and adding a bit more ‘authenticity’ to the blog.

However a lot of you guys get put off leaving a comment as you tend to like maintaining a separate personal and business life.

Secondly the comments section is a key area for conversion when setup correctly but I haven’t got round to making those changes just yet.

So Facebook comments were removed and I used this plugin (enable it then open every page on your site) to copy all of the comments from Facebook into my WordPress comments database so I didn’t lose any of them.

Time Saved

PageMiamiTime SavingLondonTime SavingDelhiTime Saving
Home3.105s-0.371s3.401s-0.361s4.879s-0.161s
Tutorial5.070s-1.167s4.001s-0.257s6.027s-0.412s
Forum3.924s-0.280s3.928s-0.205s5.104s-0.274s

That makes for yet another average saving of 0.387 seconds!

So in effect having Facebook comments on my site was actually costing me roughly $3,700 a year for the sacrifice in page load time.

So much for them being ‘free’ to use!

Total Time Saved – 2.585 seconds
Total Extra Income – $24,598

Nearly at the 3 second goal now!

Code Optimisation

Now it is important for me to point out that I suck at coding in a big way. So with that in mind someone that knows how to write code could probably have done a much better job.

Anyway the aim of the game here is reduce the total size of the page, the number of HTTP requests and to make sure Javascript is loaded asynchronously so it doesn’t block the rest of the page from loading.

Here is precisely what I did-

  1. Plugin CSS – All CSS that was dynamically inserted by plugins was moved to the themes stylesheet using this tutorial.
  2. Plugin Javascript – Exactly the same step as above but for the Javascript (I did a particularly poor job on this)
  3. Async Java Loading – I made sure Javascript was loaded asynchronously and updated social media sharing buttons. You could probably use this plugin and this one.
  4. Optimised Javascript/CSS – I used this site and this one. Although this plugin might work for you.
  5. Google JQuery – I loaded JQuery from Google
  6. Unused Plugins – I deleted all unused plugins
  7. Removed Analytics – I was running Google Analytics, Statcounter & Clicktale – I removed Statcounter and Clicktale
  8. Optimise Database – I ran WP Optimize to make sure the database was as lean as it could be.

Time Saved

PageMiamiTime SavingLondonTime SavingDelhiTime Saving
Home2.943s-0.162s3.250s-0.151s4.445s-0.434s
Tutorial3.395s-1.675s3.828s-0.173s5.598s-0.429s
Forum3.768s-0.156s3.921s-0.007s4.974s-0.130s

So all of that comes out to an average saving of 0.368 seconds adding another few thousands dollars onto the annual total.

I’m sure someone that knows what they are doing could do much better though! I plan on hiring someone to perform this step once I have finished tweaking the blog to my liking the coming weeks.

I have already made some changes that have undone parts of my code optimisation.

Total Time Saved – 2.953 seconds
Total Extra Income – $28,072

Image Optimisation

You can usually reduce the file sizes of images substantially without sacrificing on quality. This will mean users have to download less data each time they hit your page.

First of all I downloaded my entire site and ran it through the JPEG Reducer which is a great piece of free software. Once that was done I uploaded all the files.

Then I installed WP Smush.it to bulk compress again to ensure maximum savings were made.

Once you have ran the Smush.it plugin please disable and remove it, leaving it enabled actually slows your site down!

Time Saved

PageMiamiTime SavingLondonTime SavingDelhiTime Saving
Home2.835s-0.108s2.912s-0.338s4.292s-0.153s
Tutorial3.192s-0.203s3.814s-0.014s5.344s-0.254s
Forum3.516s-0.252s3.697s-0.224s4.688s-0.286s

With all of the images optimised that amounts to a further saving of 0.203 seconds on average which takes us past our 3 second goal!

Total Time Saved – 3.156 seconds
Total Extra Income – $30,587

Wrapping It Up

So in just 6 hours with a few simple changes I was able to shave 3.156 seconds off the average load time of the site which will results in an extra $30,587 profit because of the increase in conversion rate this will bring.

Not bad for 6 hours work huh?

The biggest change came with the move to WPEngine and enabling the CDN service which took less than an hour!

Those changes on their own accounted for an 1.848 second improvement which is worth roughly $17,910 to my bottom line profits per year.

Granted my hosting now costs $48.95 per month instead of $0.99 per month but I think I can swallow that expense ;)

That only leaves one thing to do – a little jiggy dance in celebration!

Page by Page Summary

For all you data geeks check out how each change affected each pages load time step by step.

Homepage

MiamiTime SavingLondonTime SavingDelhiTime Saving
Original5.682s-5.121s-7.022s-
Update WordPress5.293s-0.389s4.772s-0.349s6.492s-0.530s
WPEngine3.888s-1.405s4.166s-0.606s5.646s-0.846s
CDN3.476s-0.412s3.762s-0.404s5.040s-0.606s
Facebook Comments3.105s-0.371s3.401s-0.361s4.879s-0.161s
Code Optimisation2.943s-0.162s3.250s-0.151s4.445s-0.434s
Image Optimisation2.835s-0.108s2.912s-0.338s4.292s-0.153s

Tutorial Page

MiamiTime SavingLondonTime SavingDelhiTime Saving
Original7.974s-9.682s-9.127s-
Update WordPress7.799s-0.175s8.173s-1.509s9.024s-0.103s
WPEngine6.788s-1.011s4.527s-3.646s7.304s-1.720s
CDN6.237s-0.551s4.258s-0.269s6.439s-0.865s
Facebook Comments5.070s-1.167s4.001s-0.257s6.027s-0.412s
Code Optimisation3.395s-1.675s3.828s-0.173s5.598s-0.429s
Image Optimisation3.192s-0.203s3.814s-0.014s5.344s-0.254s

Forum Post

MiamiTime SavingLondonTime SavingDelhiTime Saving
Original5.802s-5.583s-6.728s-
Update WordPress5.894s-0.092s5.594s-0.011s6.520s-0.208s
WPEngine4.764s-1.130s4.966s-0.628s5.820s-0.700s
CDN4.204s-0.560s4.133s-0.833s5.378s-0.442s
Facebook Comments3.924s-0.280s3.928s-0.205s5.104s-0.274s
Code Optimisation3.768s-0.156s3.921s-0.007s4.974s-0.130s
Image Optimisation3.516s-0.252s3.697s-0.224s4.688s-0.286s
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