Nothing is more frustrating than a slow website. Not only it is bad for end users, but it’s also very bad for website owners. In the day and age, we live in, having a website is a necessity not only for businesses but also for anyone who wants to share useful information with the world.
Speed can make or break a website. It affects your traffic, page views, conversions, sales, and your overall reputation. By making it faster, you can improve your business or your fan base and help it grow. Studies have shown:
- 47 percent of people expect a website to load in less than two seconds.
- 40 percent of people are very likely to leave a website if it takes more than three seconds to load.
And here are some stats that prove the benefits you can get by speeding up your website:
- Amazon reported increased revenue of 1% for every 100 milliseconds of improvement to their site speed. (Source: Global Dots)
- Walmart found a 2% increase in conversions for every 1 second of improvement. (Source: Global Dots)
- 52% of online shoppers say quick page loads are important for their loyalty to a site. (Source: Akamai)
Website speed is very important for your SEO. If your website loads fast, your ranking in search engines will be higher. This is because Google prefers fast websites, and it rewards them by ranking them higher in search engine results. Apart from speed, the user experience is another factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. So, by boosting the speed of your website and improving your user experience, you will eventually improve your SEO ranking.
As a result, you’ll get higher traffic and attract more quality leads that you can convert into customers, ultimately increasing your sales and generating more revenue.
How to Test Your Website Speed?
- PageSpeed Insights is Google’s free tool for testing your website speed and it is very easy to use. All you need to do is enter the URL of your website and the tool will analyze its content and generate suggestions on how to make your website faster.
- Pingdom is also a very useful tool that not only tests your website speed but also reviews and grades your website’s performance. It also tracks your website’s performance history so you can have insight into any potential changes regarding your website speed.
- GTMetrix GTmetrix is a free tool that analyzes your pages speed performance. Using PageSpeed and YSlow, GTmetrix generates scores for your pages and offers actionable recommendations on how to fix them.
7 Actionable Tips to Improve Website Speed
1. Optimize Your Images
Images take up a lot of bandwidth. When they’re not optimized, meaning they are large in size, they use a lot of server resources and take more time to load. When your images are not optimized, your website can be much slower.
Therefore, consider reducing the size of your images without negatively affecting their quality. You can accomplish this by using a plugin that can compress your images and ensure they don’t lose quality in the process.
If you use WordPress, try WP Smush to reduce the size of your images. The other option is to use an online tool like TinyPNG to reduce each image manually before uploading them to your site. TinyPNG will help you compress the size of the image by 20 to 90%.
When you optimize your images, apart from their size, you need to focus on their format and the src attribute, which is the URL of the image. You should stick with the JPEG format, while PNG is also good, but not fully supported by older browsers.
When it comes to the src attribute, you need to make sure the code is right. Avoid empty image src codes. Namely, the code for an image in HTML includes the following:
When there is no source inside the quotation marks, the browser makes a request to the directory of the page or to the page itself, which can cause a lot of load on your servers and even corrupt your data. Therefore, make sure you always include the “src attribute” with a valid URL.
2. Enable Browser Caching
When someone visits your website, the elements on the web page they are trying to access are automatically downloaded and stored on their hard drive in a cache (temporary storage). That way, the next time they visit your website, their browser will load the requested web page very quickly, without having to send an HTTP request to the server again.
There are different ways to enable browser caching. For example, if you’re using WordPress, the easiest way to enable caching is to install a plugin. The best WordPress caching plugins are W3 Total Cache, which is the most popular performance plugin, and WP Super Cache, which is best for websites with high traffic and underpowered servers.
3. Enable Gzip Compression
If you’ve ever compressed files on your computer as ZIP files, then you must know how much that method can reduce the size of files. Gzip compression works exactly the same, except with website pages. It’s the best and most effective compression method that can considerably minimize HTTP requests and reduce response time, sometimes by as much as 70 percent.
By enabling Gzip compression, your website’s files will automatically be compressed in a ZIP file. This will significantly reduce their size and boost the speed of your website. A lot of bandwidth will be saved and the page load time of your website will be improved. When someone visits your website, the compressed files will be unzipped automatically so the content can be accessed.
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
If you want to compress certain file types by extension, add the following code to your .htaccess file:
The second way to manually add Gzip compression to your website is to add the following code to the top of your HTTP or PHP page:
<?php if (substr_count($_SERVER['HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING'], 'gzip'))ob_start("ob_gzhandler"); else ob_start();?>
4. Use a CDN
A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a network of multiple servers located around the world that deliver web content to end users according to their geographic location. A CDN can host the static files of your website in order to deliver them more efficiently and reduce bandwidth and your server load.
With a CDN, the requested web content will be delivered to end users much quicker, since a CDN will use a server closest to users to deliver the files they request. As a result, not only will there be no latency, but your website will also become much faster. This is due because your visitors will access your cache instead of requesting files directly from your server.
5. Reduce HTTP Requests
HTTP requests are requests that get sent to the server whenever someone visits your website.
This is what Yahoo has to say about HTTP requests:
“80% of the end-user response time is spent on the front-end. Most of this time is tied up in downloading all the components in the page: images, stylesheets, scripts, Flash, etc. Reducing the number of components, in turn, reduces the number of HTTP requests required to render the page. This is the key to faster pages.”
Following speed tactics outlined in this article can reduce your website’s HTTP requests. That being said, here are some quick tips:
- Use Google Chrome’s Network panel to check the number of HTTP requests your website currently makes
- Remove unnecessary images
- Optimize the remaining images (see point #2)
>> Check out this article by HubSpot on how to reduce your website’s HTTP requests
The second aspect of minifying involves deleting white space and making your files smaller. If you’re using WordPress, WP Minify is a great plugin that automatically does all of this for you.
7. Fix Broken Links
Broken links are not only a drain on bandwidth, but they’re also one of the surest ways to get a user to leave your site. One of our clients recently had several hundred 404 errors showing in Google Webmaster Tools. After fixing all of these, the average pages visited per user increased from 1.4 to 1.85 pages/visit, and there was a noticeable decrease in bounce rate.
You can check for broken links with WordPress Broken Link Checker for free.
However, sometimes broken links aren’t caught by broken link checkers, so the best way to check for them is to regularly look at your server logs. There are several tools you can use to scan for URLs that are getting 404 errors to see which pages are causing them and then take action to fix them immediately.
These seven tips are just a few of the many ways you can improve the speed of your website. Therefore, make sure you provide your website visitors with a seamless experience by improving your website speed and standing out from the crowd.
Last, but not least, if you found our guide helpful please share it with your friends and followers!