SBM 060 : Fix Speed, Improve Rankings and Stop Losing Customers with Brendan Tully

Today’s Guest

Brendan Tully  joins the 60th session of Smart Brand Marketing.

This is my go to person to get advice for when my team gets stuck doing speed fixes on WordPress sites. It’s something we do as the first part of the SEO process and along with repairs on the structure of the site content it is the foundation of good rankings.

The episode is technical so I recommend you share it with whoever works on your website… and listen to it yourself to get an idea of what we do to increase performance of websites.


  • WordPress speed
  • Best hosting
  • Banners, sliders and images
  • Biggest mistakes made by developers
  • Easiest wins
  • Plug in problems
  • The process of speeding up a site
  • and more

Message from Brendan:

“Don’t waste your time on pagespeed insights, it’s old, it’s dumb, it’s missing a bunch of key things, instead aim for under 1 second in, under 1 second is where the pageloads feel instant. Pagespeed insights is more focussed on render speed which isn’t the big win with a modern theme

Get a decent host that ideally has HTTP2 support, you can test here: HTTP2 needs https to work, here’s a speed comparison or http2 vs http1.1:

Hosts: wpx, wpengine, cloudways, siteground would be the bare minimum,
(pagespeed insights doesn’t check for http2 support)

Use Cloudflare for DNS hosting, it’s the fastest DNS host in the world, see, the CDN also has the most PoPs worldwide so will be the fastest (pagespeed insights doesn’t check DNS hosting speed)

Use PHP7 instead of php5.6, v7 is 2-3x faster which equates to ~30% site speed improvement, more on Woocommerce (pagespeed insights can’t check your php version).

Smush images with wpsmush it or equivalent
(pagespeed insights says use lossy compression (less file size, less quality), in a marketing first/commercial first environment we don’t want to do that…we use lossless compression (less file size, same quality).Apart from hiring Kurt Philip, photography is probably the easiest way to boost conversion for local seo/SMB/ecommerce, if you do local seo this podcast ep is a good primer on photog:…/

Regardless of what you think, lossy compression is bad and does impact the the quality of images therefore the quality of your marketing)

Use caching if your host doesnt have. W3 total cache is the fastest caching plugin but you need to know how to wield it, WP Rocket is not as fast but is more diyable
(pagespeed insights won’t tell you this)

Disable any plugins and tracking code you’re not using

Don’t use any lazy loads or transition effects, softloads, fadeins or whatever or fancy bullshit your theme has, it adds delays into the site render so the perceived load is slower

Piff off any banners you have, banners=conversion death”

How to Build Your Website from the Ground Up: A Comprehensive Guide

Regardless of what website you build or what purpose it serves, the goal you will always have for your site is to rank properly on the search engines. Now this can be a rather tricky thing to do as the search engines are not exactly known for their consistency when it comes to what pages should do to rank. Just ask any site developer during Google’s infamous Panda and Hummingbird algorithm updates in the early and mid-2010s.

However, there is a way to make sure that your pages will be ranking, decently at the very least, in any search engine regardless of any algorithm update that might be introduced. And much of this has to do with how you set everything up right from the start.

Hosting and Why it Matters

Believe it or not, how your pages will rank can be determined from the very moment you decide which service you should host it with. Keep in mind that even an SSL Certificate will be worthless for your page if you can’t find a good hosting service.

As of now, the question is why you should find a hosting service, as there are many options out there, but why you should find a good hosting service. The best hosting services out there can take many forms and some might require a considerable fee. However, a good hosting service should help you in preventing problems from appearing in 3 different areas.

  • 1. Website Security

    Here’s a secret: It won’t matter how secure your website is if you don’t place it in a secure server. What’s more is that security in a server is, for the lack of a better word, linked. If one website in that server is hacked, chances are that all the other websites in that server are in danger of hacking.

    A good host will have a myriad of measures and countermeasures that can deter even the most eager (and well-skilled) intruders out there. This is why it’s also not recommended that you opt for lower-tier hosting plans even in popular servers. Sure, you can look for discounts but never aim for cheaper plans if this means you risk exposing your website to more potential threats.

  • 2. Customer Service

    By design, a website should be available on a 24/7 basis; if it could be helped. However, when a server goes down, all of the websites hosted in that server will be render inaccessible as well. If your offering products and services to your customers, that can be a huge problem.

    What separates a good server from the mediocre ones is the speed in which they can address issues with their service. They can assist you in whatever problems you might face with the server and, if the entire server is shut down, will extend all efforts to make sure everything is back up as soon as possible. If you went the el cheapo route with your hosting, you run the risk of facing a myriad of problems including unresponsive assistance, longer wait times, and unexplained shut down after unexplained shut down.

  • 3. Reliability

    When it comes to website design, always remember that first impressions last. If a customer finds your website to be unresponsive or a general hassle to navigate, chances are that they won’t return for a second experience. Worse, if your website is frequently down, user information is always exposed to hacking, or features tremendous lag, your potential customers will find a better website to do their business in.

    Cheap hosting often does this to any website regardless of the latter’s quality. There’s no assurance that a more expensive host will provide your customers with the best possible experience with your site but, at the very least, these servers can make sure that your website is going to be running as efficiently as possible at all times.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to web hosts, always remember that the quality of the services you will receive is mostly proportional to the amount you paid for. Aim for the lowest-tier plans and the quality of your website will suffer. Aim for the free ones and you will get the worst. However, if you aim for a considerably priced plan, then you can be assured that your website will be placed in a good server.

Loading Speed: Is it Really Important?

The short answer is yes. In the world of web development, speed is actually essential in determining the quality of your website. The fewer seconds it takes to load an entire page, the more engagement your website will enjoy from. As a matter of fact, roughly 47% of Internet users are used to or expect a website to load in no more than 2 seconds. Also, 40% of that population have stated that they will not continue browsing through a site if it takes more than half a minute in order for everything to load.

If you need further convincing, here are five reasons why your website should load as quickly as possible.

  • 1. Google Actually Favors Speed

    When it comes to SEO, Google will actually rank those pages that can get loaded in no less than 5 seconds higher than those that don’t. This is because the search engine bots will have to scour through your page first to find information relevant to the keywords being put in the search bar. The faster those bots can go through your page, then it’s ranking in the results should be better.

  • 2. Every Website is Meant to be Globally Accessed

    Even if your website is designed to provide services for a more local market, that won’t stop the rest of the world from accessing it. The internet speeds across the world can vary from extremely fast as if you’re just changing channels on the TV to mind-numbingly slow. Also, overseas visitors will have to pass through more “obstacles” like satellite uplinks, service providers, and undersea cables compares to local visitors.

    You can use a Content Delivery Network which should speed up access to your page across the world and regardless of the visitor’s local Internet infrastructure. This way, user experience is manageable regardless of a visitor’s point of origin.

  • 3. People Have Notoriously Short Attention Span

    You can blame this on culture or eons of evolution but humans as a race are not exactly known for their ability to pay attention for long; save for a few (and those guys don’t have access to Internet). The worst part of this is that that short attention span is getting shorter and shorter as the years pass. In 2013, that span was at 8 to 10 seconds. Now? It’s between 4 to seconds.

    This is why your pages should load in between that short span or less. This does not mean that everything should load up in an instant, only that the basics of the site are there the moment that they click through the link. The other features can follow when they go through the site.

  • 4. Conversion Matters More than Traffic

    Nowadays, conversion is absolutely critical for any website. If none of those visitors convert, no matter how large the site’s traffic volume is, then it’s not going to rank better in the search engines.

    Speed might be trivial when it comes to the sales process but you might be surprised as how often lag turns off a lot of visitors, preventing them from converting into customers. As a matter of fact, it is recommended that you have everything in your page optimized to load as quickly as possible before you can start on a new marketing campaign for the business.

  • 5. Everything is Going Mobile-Friendly

    In the mid-2010s, Google made it clear that being mobile friendly will become a major factor in determining a site’s ranking from that point on. This only means that every website will now be determined by how well they cater to mobile users if they want to rank high in the search engines.

    With that in mind, loading speed will play a critical factor as mobile users tend to be very demanding when it comes to loading speeds. If something does not load within a few seconds, that person will not continue surfing through that site. If you have yet to optimize your site for mobile users, you should keep in mind that loading speeds should be optimal when redesigning the entire layout.

    Speeding up loading times in your website is not exactly difficult. All it takes is for you to have everything right from the ground up planned in such a way that you can shave unnecessary time for the user to wait just for your entire web pages to be functional.

    Being aware of the user experience in your website also helps if this is paired with prompt action. Take the right steps when designing (or redesigning) your website and loading speeds should not be a problem on your part.

Web Developing Mistakes to Avoid

The web development process is actually quite easy now. With tools like WordPress, you can have your own web site put up in a matter of a few hours and it won’t even require for you to learn programming or coding languages.

With that said, however, there are still a lot of mistakes that website owners make when creating their websites. Here are some that you should definitely avoid committing with your web pages.

  • 1. You Don’t Tell The Visitor What the Website Is or What Your Company Does

    Once your page loads, users can then form an opinion on whether or not they should be here in a matter of seconds. As such, you should be able to convey to them just what your website or, to an extent, your company is. Things like company mission-vision statements, goals, testimonies, and even something as simple as your logo can help a viewer make an informed decision as to whether or not they should proceed through the site.

  • 2. Text is Not Reader-Friendly

    Do you remember that seen in Zoolander where the main character is berating his staff for presenting him a small building? The same thing goes with your choice of fonts and text size. If your readers have to squint just to read what your website is saying, then you’re not doing it right.

    Never, ever, use a font size “for ants” or use a font style that is too thin that can make large fonts look smaller. As a standard, your font size should be no less than 14 pixels and the font style should be in Sans Serif. This way, site visitors can clearly make out what each section of your site is trying to say.

  • 3. Having an Annoying Navigation System

    When it comes to navigation, simplicity is the key. At best, the navigation in your website should be a point-and-click affair. One click should lead to a different page and so on and so forth.

    Never, in any way, allow for your user to have to move through multiple browsers just to get where they want. As a matter of fact, web pages that activate via pop-up are not doing well these days.
    And lastly, never forget to add a back button for your website. You are designing a website, not a videogame from the 1980s where you can only ever go to the right.

These are just of many mistakes that you should at the very least avoid committing when creating your website. Of course, you can always hire an experienced web developer to do the heavy lifting for you if you feel that your development skills are not up to par.

In Conclusion

Having a well-designed website is not actually an assurance that it will rank properly in the search engines. Other factors like the quality of your content being published and the services that you offer will also determine if it is going to rank high in Google.

However, never forgetting the basics of a good web design does help in improving your chances in the search engines. If you can build your website right, and continue building on it to meet newer demands, you should see your pages ranking at the top 5 search engine results in a few months.

What other web development tricks do you know off? What other ways have you used to improve your site’s rankings in the search engines? The comments section below is always open for discussions.





To get more SBM content sent directly to your device as they become available, you can subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher!

Also, reviews on iTunes are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! I read each and every one of them, and feel free to share your URL there so I can contact you later on and say thanks!

If you enjoyed this episode you may also love listening to:

Part 1: Buying Back Time

Part 2: Multiple Income Streams

Whenever you’re ready, there are 2 ways I can help you:
  1. If you’re still looking for traction in your online course, I’d recommend starting with an affordable guide:

The Course Engine: Transform your course into a money-making machine with The Course Engine. This quick and actionable guide will teach you the system I use to transform average courses into ones that can grow past 7 figures in revenue with my in-person clients.  Join 279+ students here.

  1. Want an expert to take over or help you with your marketing?

Check out what we do, our case studies and book a free


Join others just like you. Learn more about Tom Libelt and Smart Brand Marketing