Any website that wants to attract traffic (all of them, right?) has to work with Google.  Opinions vary about the company itself, but Google is too big to ignore.  The good news is that Google provides a “seal of approval” process for any website owner.  To be clear, the “seal of approval” is not a physical thing, but instead good grades with Google’s assessment.  The goals are based on what Google describes as an ideal internet site.  Additionally, I recommend them for any professional website.

Seal of Approval Assessment Tool

Google wants to help webmasters.  Thus, they have created a tool to assess a site and generate a list of changes that will improve its Google ranking and appeal to visitors.  Even better, the chief complaints that can appear in the assessment are heavily discussed across the web.  That means that a search of any suggestion will provide some examples of how to address it.  You can click on any issue on the assessment and get a few recommendations for addressing it, but they are very general.  We love WordPress so let’s focus on quick ways to correct these issues on that platform.

Image Compression

The first step is to make sure all of your images are compressed.  Even when you start with small images, it is best to compress them.  This approach will squeeze all you can out of your server to deliver content quickly.  We use and recommend Image Recycler to address this particular issue with a few minutes of work.  You can even write an article about how much you like them and get a higher quota for free.

Minify CSS, JS, and HTML

There are numerous minify plugins available on WordPress.  The caveat to using any of them is that some minify processes break the page or site.  Make sure you backup your site before testing any of them.  There are also ways to create conflicts during the “minify” process.  Therefore, check out the plugin documentation to ensure you are not grabbing one that has known issues with your current plugins.

My Favorite plugin for this step is Better WordPress Minify.  It is easy to use and configure.  The price of “free” will also fit almost any budget.  If you have issues with it, just go to the admins->plugins screen and click the deactivate link.  As a bonus, I find a significant increase in my Google site scores with just this and Image Recycler.

Above the Fold and Server Response

The last plugin that I recommend for a quick fix is the Above The Fold Optimization plugin.  ATFO is a free plugin that is full of excellent features.  The downside is that it is not the easiest plugin to use.  However, never fear, we will provide a walk-through tutorial in the next few weeks.  Full configuration is not required to make use of this plugin.  Install it and activate the CSS, javascript, settings, and proxy features by clicking on the primary checkboxes for each of these tabs.  You will see some warnings about above the fold and screen flashes, but even with that, you should see a substantial increase in your site score.

I have added these plugins and minimal configuration to multiple sites.  These alone have bumped Google scores in the forties up to the mid-eighties and higher.  Of course, I do use a responsive theme on these WordPress sites so you might want to look into that if you are on an old version.

Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a lifetime learner as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is the founder of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences and a few about becoming a better developer. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although they have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax or working on his ballroom dance skills.

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