Time is our most valuable asset.
This is the reason why we spend more on technology from higher spec smartphones to expensive internet connection to productivity apps and like all these things, the website speed matters too.
Nothing is more frustrating than clicking on a website URL and then checking your clock to see how long you’ve been waiting for it to load.
When your customers visit your website, you only have few seconds to capture their attention, with a slow loading website, all of your marketing budget goes to waste when you lose customers on their first visit.
A study by Akamai found that:
Website speed isn’t a vanity metric, according to Google they consider website speed when determining search engine rankings.
According to KISSmetrics websites that take more than 4 seconds to load can lose up to 25% of their visitors, and if the delay is 10 seconds to load a page, 35-40% of visitors can be lost.
Slower websites just don’t affect your search engine rankings, they have a much broader impact on your business, such as:
1. Customer Experience and Satisfaction.
2. Email Signups.
3. Sales conversions on your product pages.
4. Page views from Internal traffic.
It wouldn’t be wrong to so that fast loading website is not only critical to rank well in Google, but also for your bottom-line, as it impacts your revenue directly.
There are a lot of companies that have invested in their website architecture to increase their website speed and seen positive returns.
All of these studies just reiterate the fact that increasing website speed is extremely important for your business.
Benchmark is very important for us when we are trying to achieve something. There are a number of tools online which you can use to check the load time of your website and also suggestions with which you can increase your website speed.
These tools are there to tell you how well you’ve done and grade your website, these tools also gives suggestions but that is not the whole picture.
Below you’ll find surefire ways to Increase your website speed.
Your web host is the backbone of your website. It should provide a fast load time to a single visitors to a million of them if you get viral or manage to get that much traffic. The point is, if you are running on a shared hosting like Bluehost, make note that even they’ve Introduced advance packages like Managed Wordpress Hosting and VPS.
We’ve had good experience with Bluehost, however we also recommend these hosting too.
If your web host doesn’t have a solid infrastructure, you are bound to experience slow load times and if traffic peaks your visitors might see that your website is down so make sure you make the right hosting choice from the beginning.
Content Delivery Network takes off the load from your service and supercharge your website performance. CDN replicates static elements of your website on a network of servers around the globe so that when a visitor comes to your website, it fetches or uploads the content from the closest server.
They dramatically decrease the website load time which means better user experience, lower hosting cost and higher search engine rankings. A Good web host and a good CDN is killer combo.
Large images sizes are one of the main non-technical reasons why pages load slow, while basic in nature they can really add extra load on your server, that is why you need to optimize them to increase your website speed.
You can optimize these images without compromising the quality.
If you are using Wordpress. plugins like EWWW Image Optimizer & WP Smush.it plugin helps reduce the existing file size by compressing them. If you are a non-wordpress user, check out Kraken as a great image optimization service.
This is very important for returning visitors because every time a visitors comes to your site, their browser downloads all the files such as images, css, java files.
Once you turn on browser cache, the static files are stored on the visitors browser so The next time the visitor comes back to the page it will load faster, as the browser already has those files which are retrieved rather than downloading again.
If you use are using WordPress, W3 Total Cache plugin is one of the must-have plugins for performance optimization.
You can ask your Web Host company to Install Google PageSpeed Module on the server.
If you are using Wordpress or any other CMS which releases update make sure to check frequently as they include fixes and often helps increase the performance of the website by making them lighter and faster to load.
Note: Make sure to check on a test site to see if the latest updates are compatible with your hosting or if they perform better than the current version, if not wait for final release.
If you have purchased your theme from a marketplace or any specialized theme provider, make sure to see what updates have been included in the latest release. A lot of time these include better code structure, compatibility with latest browser or CMS versions.
If you haven’t reviewed your plugins repository make sure to perform an audit and also see if any of the features which you are using through external plugins could be coded with your theme. This will reduce extra load from your website.
As discussed above a lot of third party plugins install tracking scripts but mostly we do it ourself.
While it is important to keep tabs on data and analytics make sure you don’t obsess too much with the fancy scripts. Usually a few of them are enough to do the job e.g Google Analytics in combination with services like CrazyEgg, Clicktale or Visual Website Optimizer.
As we head into the technical aspects of optimizing speed, the first one is to minimze the number RTTs. Round-trip time or RTT refers to the the requests that are sent to a persons browser when they visit your website.
Google has published a handy guide which you can send your developer for reducing the http requests by making it leaner.
Here are the following steps which helps reduce the http requrests.
Similar to plugins, redirects create additional HTTP requests and make your website slower so it is important to reduce the redirects.
HTTP redirection is common where clients are redirected to device-specific URLs which is the case for mobile website as they redirect to a different URL e.g www.omnicoreagency.com to m.omnicoreagency.com
It is recommended to make a cacheable redirect which will reduce the page load time by Using a 302 redirect with a cache lifetime of one day.
Tip: Google has taken note of this issue and recommended the few steps for reducing HTTP Redirects.
If you want to make your website faster, you need to make your website lean, minimizing round-trip times and redirects is one way, but you can also reduce the time through compression of the size of HTTP response.
This is where Gzip comes in which can reduce the response size close to 70% and account for a massive chance in page load time.
While white spaces are great for web design, they aren’t of much help when it comes to coding.
HTML comments, CDATA sections, extra whitespaces and empty elements, all take up extra size and makes the website speed slow.
Minifying the files are not enough, the placement of files are equally important too.
As a best practice, all style sheets related to design and interface should be included in the <head> section as we don’t want to display an unstyled website to our visitors, even when it is loading.
By including interface related stylesheets in the beginning, the design will load quickly and even if the impact is of milliseconds, they user experience will not be affected.
After the content is loaded we want our functionality related files to load so that the visitors sees everything without any delay.
The rule is simple as we want to achieve the following with the same sequential order:
CSS Sprite is an image comprised of other images used by your design as something of a map containing the coordinates of all the images. These can includes all of your icons, logos and buttons combined into one big file and then through css positioning you can use the required logo or icon where you need.
Each external link sends an http request and if there are lot of broken links on your website, you are just wasting resources.
While some of these ways are technical, there are a lot of ways which are easy to implement. In case you want to go through more literature on Increasing Website Page Speed check out these guides by Google and Yahoo.
If you found these tips helpful, make sure to apply it and let us know what results you’ve been able to achieve in the benchmarking scores.
Photo Credit: Unsplash