Website Speed is utmost important when it comes to your site’s performance, nonetheless, except if you understand how the metric works – and, more specifically, the factors that impact it – you might find it challenging to improve website speed.
If you are working on reducing the bounce rate and increasing visitor engagement on your site, you should make sure that your web pages load quickly and seamlessly. Do you know – 47% of consumers expect websites to load in two seconds or less? And 40% will abandon a page that takes three or more seconds. Check out the detailed statistics here.
A website optimized for speed not only enhances the user experience but can also help boost your search engine rankings.
I will explain page speed, why it is essential, and how to measure it in this guide. Then, we will also learn the best tips you can use to improve website speed.
So, let’s begin.
What is Page Speed?
The page speed alludes to how quickly your content loads when someone browses a page on your site. Unrelated to site speed, page speed represents the loading time of a specific page.
Different factors can impact page speed. Some of the most important factors include:
1) The total size of the page.
2) How many images, videos, and other media files are included on the page?
3) What themes and plugins are installed on your site?
4) Your site’s coding and server-side scripts.
5) Third-party scripts, CSS, and JS included on the page.
6) How many DB queries are executed when the page loads if your site is database driven?
All these elements affect your page loading speed and your website’s user experience. After all, visitors dislike slow-loading pages and are likelier to leave the site if it does not load within a few seconds.
Why is Page Speed Important?
It is evident that if your web pages take longer to load, the visitors will leave your site without any interaction. So, ultimately, you will be losing the business.
Regarding page loading speed, every second counts; in fact, Google research shows that when loading times increase from one to three seconds, the probability of a bounce rate increases by 32%. If the page takes five seconds to load, the likelihood of a bounce rate rises by 90%.
On the off chance that your pages do not load in a few seconds, there is a high chance that the visitors will leave your site. Furthermore, if your web pages are sluggish, that can hurt your ability to drive engagement and conversions.
Page speed also plays a significant role in SEO. Google considers various factors when deciding how to rank web pages. However, speed is an important ranking signal for desktop and mobile searches.
If you want to run a highly-effective website, it is necessary to focus on optimizing page speed. The first step is figuring out how your pages are currently performing.
How to Measure Page Speed?
Before rolling out any improvements to your website, you will have to measure the performance of your web pages. There are different tools you can use to calculate page speed. The widely used tools are Pingdom Website Speed Test and GTmetrix, both beginner-friendly options.
However, we strongly recommend using Google PageSpeed Insights. It is an easy-to-use tool that allows you to measure and test the speed of your web pages on both desktop and mobile devices.
Furthermore, a Google-supported tool can help you ensure you’re hitting the performance benchmarks required for high search result placements.
PageSpeed Insights will analyze the content on your page and score it on a scale of 0 to 100. Below your score, you will find a list of suggestions on ways you can improve the page loading speed
It is worth noting that you will get a separate score and list of suggestions for both the desktop and mobile versions of your web page. The data gives you a solid starting point for checking how fast your web pages are and offers tangible actions you can take to improve website speed.
12 Best Secrets To Improve Website Speed
There are tons of factors that influence how long each page on your site takes to load, so there are many different steps you can take to increase your speed and improve user experience.
Now that you understand the importance of page speed and how to test your site’s performance, it is time to work on improving this key metric. So, let’s get started.
1) Select the Right Hosting Solution
Most new site owners choose the cheapest possible option for hosting. While this is often enough initially, you will likely need to upgrade once you get more traffic. Don’t skimp on your host; get one you can trust because the hosting provider you use plays a significant role in your website’s management and performance.
When looking at hosting, you have three different options:
Shared Hosting is the cheapest option, and you can often get it at approx five dollars per month. However, while it is acceptable for low-traffic sites, shared hosting does struggle to keep up with traffic spikes and high-volume sites. And you may see downgraded performance of your website, if there is traffic spikes on the server because of others’ websites.
With VPS Hosting, you have your virtual server with dedicated resources. It protects your site from everyone else on the host server without the cost of dedicated server hosting.
With Dedicated Server Hosting, you will have access to the entire physical server, which generally has many resources. But, you will also have more work to do with the configuration and technical setup. Therefore, if you have a mission-critical site/application, you should use a Dedicated Server.
2) Reduce Server Response Time
One of the critical factors in how quickly your page loads is the amount of time your DNS lookup takes. A DNS (Domain Name System) is a server with databases of IP addresses and their associated hostnames. When a user types a URL into their browser, a DNS server is what translates that URL into the IP address that indicates its location online.
A DNS lookup then is the process of finding a specific DNS record. You can think of it as your computer looking up a number in a phone book.
For example, let’s say you wanted to visit the URL kemuhost.com. You’d type this into your browser, which means very little to your computer. However, your ISP will perform a DNS lookup to find the IP address associated with that URL.
It will get an IP address like 188.8.131.52, which tells it where to find the site you are looking for. This step prevents users from memorizing long strings of numbers to access information online.
The amount of time this step takes depends on how fast your DNS provider is. If not, it may be time to switch to a faster DNS provider. If you’re using a slow DNS, this increases the time it takes for browsers to locate your site. Switching to a faster DNS provider can speed up the process.
3) Minimize HTTP Requests
An HTTP request is made for each element of your web page, so the more on-page components, the longer it takes for the page to render. So the first step to minimizing your requests is to figure out how many your site currently makes to use as a benchmark.
You need to open your website in Google Chrome, to go through developers’ tools and analyze the size of each HTTP request. You will also find the number of total requests the site makes. Reducing this number of requests will speed up your site; look through your files and see if any are unnecessary.
You may not notice anything immediately, but some of them are likely the prime candidates to combine.
Decreasing your files’ sizes also makes it easier to combine them. The result is cleaner code and leaner web pages that load faster.
5) Optimize Images
Images help enhance the appearance of your web pages and increase the quality of your content. However, the large images can also downgrade the page loading times. Hence, one of the easiest ways to improve website speed is to compress and optimize the images on your website. This can include changing their file formats, enabling lazy loading, and compressing images through lossy or lossless compression.
By reducing the images’ file sizes, you can reduce their ‘weight,’ ultimately helping your pages load more quickly. In addition, there are a variety of image optimization tools you can use, such as Optimizilla.
6) Reduce External Scripts
There are many common third-party integrations you may have running on your site that you don’t think about. You can identify the external scripts that add requests by opening the developer tools tab in Google Chrome.
Of course, some scripts might take a few milliseconds. In this case, you can leave them as-is. However, knowing which features add to your load times will help you better understand your site’s speed.
7) Cache Your Web Pages
Caching is one of the most effective ways to speed up web pages. It stores copies of your site’s files, minimizing the work needed for the server to generate and serve a web page to a visitor’s browser.
By using this technique, you can lower Time to First Byte by requiring the server to use fewer resources to load a page.
There are various ways to cache your web pages. First, you can do this at the server level, meaning your host handles it for you. Another option is to use a third-party caching plugin.
8) Enable Browser Caching
9) Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A CDN – Content Delivery Network OR Content Distribution Network, is a network of servers that can help improve website speed. It does this by hosting and delivering copies of your site’s static content from servers across the globe.
A CDN works with, rather than in place of, your host. So, in addition to the server that hosts your primary website, you can leverage a CDN to distribute copies of your site’s files among strategically-chosen data centers.
When any user browses your site, he will get the page data from the edge server nearest to his location. Thus, CDN can maximize the performance of your website.
10) Eliminate Unnecessary Plugins
Too many plugins on your site can cause unnecessary bloat that slows it down.
Also, if you use outdated plugins or do not maintain them proprely, it can pose a security threat and even introduce compatibility issues that hamper performance.
Therefore, it is wise to minimize the number of plugins you use for your website. One of the easiest ways to do this is by disabling and deleting any plugins you don’t use.
11) Reduce Your Redirects
Too many redirections on your website can hurt loading times. A page redirects somewhere else prolongs the HTTP request and response process.
In some cases, redirections, such as when moving to a new domain, may be necessary. However, eliminating unnecessary redirects on your site can result in significantly lower page loading times.
12) Enable Compression
The smaller your files, the faster your pages will load. One of the easiest ways to reduce the load time is to compress the files. Also, enabling compression with Gzip is standard practice now-a-days.
Gzip is a file format and software application that essentially locates strings of similar code in your text files, then temporarily replaces them to make the files smaller. It works well with CSS and HTML because these files typically have repeated code and whitespace.
Most web servers can compress files in Gzip format before sending them for download, either by calling a third-party module or using built-in routines. According to Yahoo, Gzip compression can reduce download time by about 70%. And since 90% of internet traffic travels through browsers that support Gzip, it is an excellent option for speeding up your site.
Improve Website Speed – The Conclusion
Getting your page load times to where you want them to be is a challenging undertaking but will have a significant positive impact on your overall site performance.
If you have been running your website for a long time, it might already be in line with many of the above tips. You can apply the rest of the tips and see how it goes. If you still face any issues, don’t hesitate to contact us.