5 Ways To Improve The Search Engine Performance Of Your Divi Site In 2023

5 Ways To Improve The Search Engine Performance Of Your Divi Site In 2023

Now that we’ve all settled into the new year, it might be a good time to take a look at your site’s search performance over the past year or so and think about improvements you can make to boost your search engine rankings and keep that inbound organic search traffic flowing. A good place to start is by using tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console to see where things are at currently as well as any trends during 2022. Have organic search referrals increased or decreased? What keywords and site pages were popular over the last year? Have there been changes in average results position or click-through rate? How might Google’s 2022 ranking updates affected your site?

Once you’ve taken stock of where your site stands now, here are some Divi SEO suggestions (in no particular order) to consider as you plan for improvements for the year ahead. As always, your strategy and prioritization should be informed by the metrics, analytics, and search console feedback pertaining to your site, since every site is unique in its strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.

1. Use a caching and content delivery network (CDN) service

How fast your site’s pages load is important for user experience, but it also factors in to how well your site ranks on search engines like Google. Feature rich content management systems such as WordPress and the Divi theme sometimes come with a performance penalty, which often increases further with the addition of plugins such as WooCommerce and Divi plugins. Fortunately, performance has been a major emphasis in more recent Divi development, such as the Divi 4.10 performance update and the upcoming Divi 5.0. But there is still more that can be done to help ensure that requests for your site’s content are fulfilled quickly for human site visitors and search engine bots around the world.

Before making changes that seek to improve site performance and load speed, it’s a good idea to take a “before” picture of your site’s speed using a tool such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom’s Website Speed Test. This information can be compared to the results from the same tool after the performance-related changes have been made to provide a quantification of the impact of those changes.

A service that offers caching and content delivery network (CDN) features will store a copy of your site’s pages and assets such as images and CSS, usually when these are requested by a site visitor. Then, when the same page or asset is requested again within a certain timeframe, the service can use that saved copy to fulfill the request, rather than having your website’s hosting server regenerate the content or retrieve the asset again. This is particularly helpful for sites whose content is generated dynamically with each request, as is currently the case for sites with Divi content, which is shortcode based and renders to HTML each time a page is requested, in the absence of a caching solution. A service with a global CDN can handle requests from users around the world using servers that are geographically closer to those users than your single hosting server might be, which can further reduce the time needed to fulfill those requests.

One such service, which we’ve used here at WP Zone as part of our own infrastructure, is CloudFlare. Offering a variety of service plans (including a free tier), an official WordPress integration, fairly easy setup, and a variety of useful features, it is a great way to give your Divi site a speed boost with minimal effort. Once it’s up and running, don’t forget to test both your site’s performance (it may be good to run several tests since content may not be cached on the first test, especially for low traffic sites) and to ensure that there are no negative functionality impacts from having your site’s pages served from cache (again, multiple tests may be advisable since results can vary depending on whether the page is served from cache or live).

2. Ensure a great user experience

Since at least 2021, Google Search has factored page experience into its ranking algorithm. One of the main ways this is done is via a set of metrics known as Core Web Vitals. These factor in page load time, which we covered in the previous point, but they go beyond that into other elements of the user experience as well. Here are some other ways in which you may be able to improve both the user experience and your page experience metrics as seen by search engines as part of your Divi SEO strategy:

  • Make sure that the Divi theme’s Critical CSS feature (Divi > Theme Options > General > Performance > Critical CSS) is enabled, and adjust the Critical Threshold Height setting (on the same settings page) if needed to further optimize how much CSS is loaded later instead of right away.
  • If you are embedding third-party content such as social media posts or videos into your page, consider making them lazy load if possible since this type of content may negatively impact loading performance. For videos loaded with Divi’s Video module in particular, consider setting an overlay image and enabling the Defer Video Loading Behind Overlay option in Divi Rocket (Miscellaneous tab) to stop the video player from loading until after the overlay image is clicked.
  • Avoid using any content or Divi modules that significantly changes its size as it loads, since this may result in your page content jumping around in a way that is both annoying for your users and frowned upon by Core Web Vitals metrics
  • Consider the number of plugins you have active on your site and remove any that are unnecessary, particularly if they load JavaScript or CSS on your site’s frontend. For those that remain, look into plugin-based or CDN-based solutions to further optimize assets, such as by combining or minifying them.
  • Make sure you are using a hosting plan for your Divi site that provides adequate performance for server-side page rendering and request fulfillment. Even if you are using a caching solution such as CloudFlare, you’ll want those requests which result in a “cache miss” to be processed in a timely manner.

You can see information about your site’s current Core Web Vitals metrics and changes over time in Google Search Console. Keep in mind that this data is collected during visits to your site, so it won’t reflect any changes you make immediately.

3. Focus on content

Two of Google’s 2022 ranking changes were referred to as “helpful content” updates. These aim to prioritize content that is created using what Google refers to as a “people-first” approach. As the name implies, the idea is that content designed to help people (rather than just please search engines) should fare better in organic search results which are, after all, targeted at people who are asking questions or looking for information. Not only can such content help your organic search engine positioning as an integral part of your Divi SEO initiatives, but it also stands to reason that it would be good for user engagement and retention as well.

For more about how to create helpful content and some questions to consider in your content creation process, you can go straight to the source and check out this blog post about the August update, find out more about the helpful content system, and read content creation guidelines from Google’s documentation.

4. Optimize your images

With visual search becoming more prominent, it’s probably a good idea to start now on making sure that search engine optimization is taken into account as it relates to the images on your website. This starts before you upload the images to your site, by making sure that you use descriptive file names instead of the generic ones that may be generated by a camera or stock photo service. More importantly, don’t forget to set the alt text for the image. You can do this in a variety of places, such as in the media library or in the image selection dialog when choosing an image to use in the Image module, for example. This text provides a description of the image for search engines, in addition to the obvious accessibility reasons for including descriptive text with your images. Keyword considerations come into play here just like with regular text-based content.

As a side note specific to Divi SEO, in current versions of the Divi theme, it seems that the alt text for images in the Image module (and possibly elsewhere) is taken from the image “attachment” metadata when the image is inserted, and if you change it in the media library afterwards, it may not automatically update for instances of the image that have already been inserted into your content. So you’ll want to make sure your alt text is defined the way you want it before you drop that image into your page or blog post, else you may need to re-insert or update it later. If you are using the Image module, you can edit the alt text in the Advanced tab of the Divi module settings window.

5. Integrate structured data

Google Search supports a wide variety of structured data types, which is hidden information embedded into your web pages that can show up in organic Google search results in different ways. While structured data may not directly affect your position in Google search results, it could cause more information to be provided in your search results entry to make it stand out and to help encourage the user to engage with it, or it may provide more places for the user to click to visit your site. To use structured data on your site, look for plugins that include it as a feature alongside their primary purpose, or use a purpose-built plugin designed specifically for managing structured data.

A few types of general-purpose structured data that you may want to consider including in your site are:

  • Breadcrumbs: Define a structural hierarchy for individual pages on your site
  • Business information: Provide information such as business name, location, and hours for a local business
  • Products: If you have an ecommerce site (or otherwise advertise products on your site), you can provide information about the products you offer which may be included in search results

Don’t forget to check out a more complete list of supported structured data types here to see what might be relevant for your site, along with some sample images of how the structured data might be rendered!

Jonathan Hall

Jonathan is the lead backend WordPress developer at WP Zone.