If you have a website its likely that you have been reading about website page load speed recently.
With the advent of the recent Google updates, there has been a change in emphasis on SEO requirements.
What once placed the most importance on keywords and meta descriptions has now shifted and different ranking factors are being emphasized.
Site speed has emerged as one of the most important ranking factors in Google search.
Google has stressed on multiple occasions that they are dedicated to delivering a ‘quality experience’ to its users.
Along with providing top-notch content that responds to search questions, this now also includes the speed of the website.
Loading speed has long been a ranking factor but recently has become more of a priority.
The speed in which your website loads is now a top priority for website owners.
Research shows that the average load speed of the top ranking websites on Google search is less than 2 seconds.
If your site takes more than 3 seconds to load then you will lose 80% of visitors. Increase that to 4 seconds and you haven’t got a prayer.
It is not just on laptops either the majority of site visits are performed from mobile device. Users don’t expect to wait for information to load.
Check out this infographic for more details.
Make your site load time faster
There are multiple factors that can play into your overall site speed and loading time.
Making sure you have optimized everything correctly will keep your site operating at peak performance.
47% of customers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or lessDiginow.co.uk
But how do you know WHAT to optimize?
Here is a list of things that you can do to get your site working as fast as possible.
Believe it or not your choice of theme can affect your website speed. If your site was built a few years ago it might be worth taking a look at the theme you are using.
You want one that is built to be SEO friendly with ‘clean code’ so that it is lightweight and fast.
Older and more ‘clunky’ themes may not be optimized as well and can slow your site down.
If you got a great deal and got free web hosting you may need to take a critical look at your provider.
While this can seem like an easy win the truth is that many free hosting packages will be slower than paid services, or not have the resources that you need.
A low quality web host will slow the loading time of your site considerably.
66% of customers said website performance influences their impression of the companyDiginow.co.uk
Over time your website’s database can get clogged with unnecessary items that can slow your site.
Think of it like your cell phone, when it’s new and shiny it performs at lightning speed, but after a year it can lose performance and lag.
Your website operates on the same principle. After you have been running for a while your database can contain many unnecessary files and items.
Optimizing your database will clean things up and improve load speed.
If you are using a lot of good quality images on your site they can cause a lot of slow down.
While they look great and are effective for making your site eye-catching there is a lot of data taken up by pictures.
This is where image compression comes in useful. Try an image optimizer like Smush to compress images and improve your site load speed.
Your site loads every time someone visits it, you can reduce that loading time by using a page caching plugging like W3 Total Cache.
Browsers store a static version of your website so that it doesn’t have to be reloaded from scratch each time a user visits.
This can reduce your website loading time substantially.
Reducing the content on your website can be done by using Gzip software. This handy tool compresses your http content before delivering it to a user.
It has been shown to reduce file sizes by up to 80%. It can reduce bandwidth use and improve your overall site speed.
Gzip is usually included in any caching plugin you are using or it can be enabled via your web server.
Content Distribution Network
Explained in the simplest form a CDN is a global network of servers that stores your website for faster delivery to users in remote locations.
Cloudflare is one of the most popular CDNs and they offer a free option to users.
CDNs have been shown to reduce bandwidth use, enhance website security, and improve website load speed.
One full second can decrease conversion rates by 70%Unbounce.com
Minimize 301 redirects
If you have moved your website recently or changed your domain name then 301 redirects are the way to tell users that your site has moved.
While this is useful for preserving traffic there is also a downside.
It takes extra time to go from the old web address to the new one and you may experience a drop off in users as a result.
So try and minimize redirects where possible.
Reducing code on your website by minification has a positive impact on your website load speed.
When areas of your website are coded developers use unnecessary characters like commas, spaces, and comments.
While this is helpful during development it slows down your website once it is functional.
Minifying this code reduces the bandwidth it needs and enhances your website’s performance.
40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.Neil Patel
Website load speed is essential for user experience, conversions, and gaining optimum search rankings.
While some of these items may seem a bit technical other are simple enough to complete.
Shaving just milliseconds off your site’s load time can make vast improvements.