Most people think that SEO (search engine optimisation, for the uninitiated) is all about keywords and backlinks – but there’s actually a little more to it than that. There are a multitude of ranking signals and factors which go way beyond keyword placement and link authority, and all of them play a part in dictating how search engines crawl and rank your pages.

An increasingly important factor in SEO is website speed – Google admitted way back in 2010 that speed was now a ranking factor. Here’s what they said back then:

“Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there. But faster sites don’t just improve user experience; recent data shows that improving site speed also reduces operating costs. Like us, our users place a lot of value in speed — that’s why we’ve decided to take site speed into account in our search rankings. We use a variety of sources to determine the speed of a site relative to other sites.”

With that in mind, here are a few tips to enhancing the SEO of your WordPress website by speeding it up a little:

Purge old plugins

WordPress’ plugins improve the functionality of these websites to no end, and we know many website managers will have fun installing dozens of plugins and trying them out, before deciding they aren’t really useful, or they don’t meet the site’s needs. Rather than leaving the plugin active, clogging up space, get rid of the plugins you don’t use and clean up the directory behind them. This will help to increase the website speed.

Keep up-to-date with updates

WordPress releases a new version of its platform every now and then, and if you see a notification saying there’s an update available, you should install it straight away. WordPress websites running on older versions of the software are prone to being incredibly slow – and the first advice you’ll get from the developers is simply to ensure you update.

Check your hosting – and move, if necessary

Many hosting providers will lure you in with a cheap deal and a promise of never-ending uptime and unlimited storage space or transfers. But if you’re still on one of these cheaper deals, it’s worth verifying these claims. Read some reviews from other customers to check that your hosting provider is actually living up to their end of the bargain. If their server capacity is poor, or if there have been some instances of downtime in recent months, it might be time to upgrade to a provider more suited to your needs.

Make use of a cache plugin

If you install any plugins as a result of this blog post, make it a cache plugin. As the name suggests, these plugins cache the most commonly visited pages on your site, so the next visitor to land on that page will experience better website speed. You don’t need any extensive coding experience or website qualifications to install this modification – and there are plenty of options in the WordPress plugin store.

How will you be speeding up your WordPress site?