SearchLove 2014 “Turbo-charging your WordPress website” Cheat Sheet

Some of the key resources, tasks, tools and code referenced in my SearchLove talk. Let me know if there’s anything missing!

Skilling up at up hosting & server config

  • Get some ‘proper hosting’ (at minimum a Linux VPS, or something more advanced, or an Amazon EC2 T2 small instance).
  • Buy a domain (often easier to configure if/when it’s with the company you host with)
  • Point your domain at your hosting (configure nameservers & DNS)
  • Familiarise yourself with cPanel (demo) for managing your site(s), & phpMyAdmin (demo) for managing your database(s).
  • Install WordPress from scratch
  • Familiarise yourself with WHM (demo) for managing your server. Build your own Apache config via ‘EasyApache’, and tweak some key server settings via ‘Tweak Settings’

WordPress core

Must-have Plugins

Other recommended plugins

Resources for monitoring & measuring performance

  • Google PageSpeed Insights – don’t forget that a high score doesn’t mean a fast site. It’s just looking at whether you’ve jumped through hoops.
  • ySlow – Useful as a second opinion on score-based speed analysis.
  • Google Analytics – don’t forget to change your sampling settings to avoid slow mobile devices skewing the average!
  • Pingdom – on demand site speed testing based on request monitoring, and subscription uptime & speed monitoring packages
  • WebPageTest – more hardcore, technical site speed testing
  • iPerceptions – user experience feedback via sophisticated on-page surveying
  • NewRelic – server-level performance monitoring, error tracking, user satisfaction indexing (a bit tricky to install but worth the learning curve)

General front-end

  • Configure a CDN (either a third party, or your own subdomains)
  • Use subdomains to parallelise connections
  • Minimise the number of requests each page makes
  • Use CSS sprites
  • Minimise reflow and repaint

Expert stuff

  • Reduce reliance on ad-hoc calls to WP functions like the_title(); store commonly used variables instead
  • Manage erroneous requests which show up in GWMT and Redirection’s logs
  • Serve large, static resources from a CDN
  • Clean up plugin overheads
  • Optimise your media; file types, sizes, behaviours
  • Kill unnecessary templates
  • Tailor your site’s behaviour using custom post types and custom fields
  • Fix errors and notices by exploring your error_log file

Upgrading to SSL

Visualising the performance stack

  1. Hosting Type
  2. Server spec & config
  3. Theme / CMS
  4. Domain(s) config
  5. Media / Assets
  6. HTML & DOM (and CSS + JS)
  7. Reflow, repaint and FPS

Common 404/error hits you can catch with Redirection

  1. apple-touch-icon.png (and variants)
  2. favicon.ico (and variants)
  3. browserconfig.xml
  4. feeds which don’t / shouldn’t exist
  5. invalid page/date ranges
  6. broken internal links (and missing http links)
  7. alternate sitemap and meta data urls
  8. pages & images with weird, breaking parameters
  9. security probes

Digital Marketing by Numbers revisited

I presented a revitalised version of my approach on how to map organisational objectives to tangible and effective KPIs at last week’s Linkdex Think Tank, exploring how you can use the resultant framework to become truly data driven.

The biggest challenge in becoming truly data driven is one of language and process. My framework for aligning strategic business objectives to tactical activity and tailored KPIs ensures that senior stakeholders have confidence, that recommendations align to organisational goals, that efforts are measurable and produce tangible outputs, and that the whole process is simple and transparent. Tried and tested by some of the world’s largest organisations, the framework can transform companies and put data at the heart of the decision-making process.

Getting Around Finance – Keyword Research & Tagging

In order to win in competitive markets like finance, you need to understand the market, your audience, and the opportunities. You can only do this from an orbital view of keywords, language and behaviour – and to then zoom in to specific niches and areas of focus.

Stop thinking about ‘keywords’, and start thinking about keyword ‘families’ – groups of contextually related phrases which indicate similar need groups; from synonym phrases through to simple typos, there’s a world of insight you’re missing out on.

Measurefest – Data Layers 101

A whistle-stop tour through the concept of the data layer, why it’s not just techy-stuff, and some of the real-world applications and implications of adopting your own.

…featuring such exciting topics as ‘Hands-on tips and tricks for Google Tag Manager’, ‘Reducing your dependency on frustrating development challenges when al you want to do is get a tag live’, and ‘Doing really clever stuff with variables, classifying user types, and scoring behaviours’.

Operational SEO Big Think: Organisation Hacking

Building a business from the ground up is a great opportunity to develop amazing content, disrupt, and embrace effective SEO. But what about established organisations – those with entrenched processes, legal teams, departmentalisation and small marketing teams?

In the real world, large businesses don’t change direction quickly or easily. Many organisations struggle to develop content strategies, implement technical changes, and embrace modern, integrated, effective SEO not because they don’t want to or don’t understand the opportunity, but because they can’t. It’s too big. Too complex. Too hard.

So, as a consultant or in-house practitioner, how do you effect change and move the needle?

I share some practical, tactical hacks for getting things done in a world which struggles to live up to our expectations.