One of the keys to getting search engines to rank your posts higher than others is load times. Search engines do not like pages that take a long time to load.
And when you think of your posts, what is one of the elements of a typical post that often takes the longest to load?
That’s right. The images.
Text doesn’t take long to download, but images can sometimes take several seconds, costing you valuable search engine happy points. WordPress comes with a image cruncher built right in, and we have already set up your media image settings for maximum compatibility for your blog, but over the course of many years of blogging, I have found a plugin which does an extra good job of preparing your images for quick loading on your blog pages. Everybody like that, including readers and search engines.
The plugin is called Smush.it. It is a tool put out by Yahoo, which you can use on your site to optimize your images.
Here is a short guide to installing it.
Search for it inside your blog Dashboard, and then install and activate it.
And guess what? That is it! There are no settings or configuration pages to tweak. It does everything it needs to do when you upload the images to your blog.
How easy was that?!
Well, okay, maybe it’s not quite that easy…
If you already have some images on your blog, what about them?
What if you have been blogging for a while, and some of your images load slowly, and you want to run them through Smush.it?
Have no fear, Smush.it prepared for this situation also.
Run Older Images through Smush.it
In your Dashboard, click on “Media.”
When you do, you will see a list of all your images which you have uploaded already. Over on the right, “Smush.it” has added a column to tell you whether or not the images has been Smushed, and if so, how much it has reduced the image.
Look at these three images from one of my other blogs as examples:
You see that the top image, has not been processed. This is because I uploaded it before I had installed Smush.it. If I want to Smush.it, all I have to do is click the blue “Smush.it now!” link.
The next image has been Smushed, but it was already as small as it could get, and Smush.it was not able to optimize the image any further, and tells me there were no savings.
The third image, however, did have savings. It was Smushed by 14.7%, or 32.5 KB. Not too shabby! That adds up! If I wanted to re-Smush.it, I can click the link provided, but there are rarely any additional savings.
There is one final type of Smuch.it message you might see, and it is this:
What this means is that the image was too big for Smush.it to handle. This is not good! Smush.it can handle images up to 1MB in size. If your blog has an image which is over 1MB, it is WAY too big. So before Smush.it can Smush it, you are going to have smush it your own a bit first.
Here is how:
First, hover your mouse over the image, and select “Edit” from the menu that appears. You will get the following screen.
See how big this image is?! 4000 x 3000. That is WAY too big for a blog. Underneath the image, click the “Edit Image” button and a new window will open up allowing you to edit the image.
Click the “Scale Image” button and a little window will drop down where you can scale the image. Set the new image width to be the maximum size you think you will ever need. Somewhere around 600 should be fine, but event his may be too big if you just need a little thumbnail. The height dimension will automatically set the proper value for you. No math equations needed! Click the “scale” button, and the image will scale down in size for you.
Now, you should be able to return to your media library, and Smush.it properly! Let’s see.
When you initially return to the media library, the error message is still there, but when you click the re-smush button, it goes away, and you get a nicely smushed image, perfectly optimized for all your blogging needs.
This has been a guide to one of the 10 Essential WordPress Plugins for the new blog. Click the link to check out the others!
JULY 2011 Update:
The plugin added a Bulk Smush.it option under the Media Tab in your Dashboard. It takes a while, but it works.
I did run into a small problem. Many of my images were receiving this error:
Smush.it error: Failed to create a temp dir
To fix this, add the following code to your wp-smushit.php file:
Where and how can you do this? Here is an image: