In a world where people expect instant results, it’s important to work on optimizing your website speed. Faster is better. Nearly half of web users expect website pages to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon sites that don’t load within 3 seconds.
Whats your Page Speed?
Google has a great, free tool for measuring page speed called PageSpeed Insights. Enter your url and get a speed score for desktop and mobile and a list of specific recommendations on how to speed it up.
Why Does Page Speed Matter?
It comes down to 3 main reasons that link together :
1. Long load times kills user experience
People don’t have the patience for long loading times because the can click back and get to another, faster site in the same time. User experience directly affects conversion and that’s why it’s the top reason you should care about website speed.
2. Long load times kills SEO
User experience is actually the driving force behind SEO. Page speed is factored into search ranking algorithms to ensure users are getting the best available resources.
3. Long load times kills conversions
Your site speed’s effect on conversions is what should really catch your attention. How can you move people through your funnel if each step takes forever? Your friends and family might do it, but new, hesitant people will bounce.
8 Tactics to Make Your Website Load Faster
Depending on your site size, speeding up your site won’t work overnight. If you have someone taking care of your website management for you, send them this list to make sure they work on website speed.
1. Leverage browser caching:
When you visit sites, your browser often caches pages on the site to speed up load time.
Browser caching stores webpage resource files on a local computer when a user visits a webpage, so leveraging browser caching is when you instruct browsers how their resources should be dealt with.
Things can slow down when the response from your server does not include caching headers or if resources are specified to be cached for only a short time.
Leveraging caching will load your pages much faster for repeat visitors and so will other pages that share those same resources.
2. Optimize images:
If images load faster, your site loads faster, period. Google notes that “…images often account for most of the downloaded bytes on a page. As a result, optimizing images can often yield some of the largest byte savings and performance improvements.”
This means that you can get some big improvements when the images on your pages can be optimized to reduce their file size without significantly impacting their visual quality.
Minifying removes any unnecessary characters that are not required for the code to execute.
Sources of redundant data that you can remove includes code comments and formatting, removing unused code, using shorter variable and function names, and more.
4. Enable gzip compression:
Gzip compression drastically reduces the size of files sent from your server when someone visits your website. This will speed things up considerably.
According to GTMetrix,
“The reason gzip works so well in a web environment is because CSS files and HTML files use a lot of repeated text and have loads of whitespace. Since gzip compresses common strings, this can reduce the size of pages and style sheets by up to 70%!”
5. Reduce server response time:
Server response time is the amount of time it takes for a web server to respond to a request from a browser. This is a key issue to address because if your server response time is slow your pages will display slow, no matter how optimized your pages are for speed.
Google says you should reduce your server response time under 200ms. So how do you make this happen?
6. Avoid landing page redirects:
Your site can really slow down when you have more than one redirect from the given URL to the final landing page. This sets off a redirect loop that takes time to process.
Here are a few examples of redirects that can slow things down:
7. Prioritize visible content:
This is the exact message you’ll get from Google’s PageSpeed tool when additional network round trips are required to render the above the fold content of the page.
However, this is a common message you’ll get from Google about site speed, and addressing it can really take your page speed up a few notches.
Note: This is the hardest thing to fix for most people. There are WordPress plugins that just do it but they can make your site look like Frankenstein on every load.