The old adage "patience is a virtue" is still true in a lot of situations, but it certainly doesn't apply online. Every second delay in page load speed will drastically reduce page views, customer satisfaction, and conversions.
On top of this, page load speed also has a surprising effect on your organic search rankings too. In recent years Google has been taking user experience into account when determining where to rank a website in the search results, and page load speeds are one of the factors they consider, as faster loading pages = better user experience.
There are countless testimonies online from marketers, business owners, and search engine marketers who report improved search rankings, improved conversions, and ultimately, more revenue as a result of improving their page load speeds.
So, what has the biggest impact on your website's loading speed?
In one word: Size.
Think about how much code there is on your website; you have HTML, scripts, images, and stylesheets, all of this data can take a while for a browser to download.
As time goes on and users expect more engaging website designs, the size of your website's pages will continue to grow. If you compare a typical website design from several years ago, to one today, you will see a big difference.
How can you check your page load speed?
There are a number of different tools for analyzing the load speed of your pages, but the two most popular are GTMetrix and Google's PageSpeed Insights. Both of these tools will analyze your pages, give you an overall score, and give you a prioritized list of areas you need to work on in order to improve your page load speed.
Don't worry if there are some points on the list which you can't fix, some will be easier than others, and some have a much larger effect than others. Just fix those which you can fix, after-all, every little helps.
How can you improve your website's loading speed?
A lot of people assume that content management systems such as WordPress and Joomla are already optimized for fast loading pages, but this is not the case. When you add your own themes, plugins, and other changes, you need to do a little tweaking to keep things running quickly.
Here are 6 easy and essential solutions to help improve your website loading times:
1. Upgrade your Hosting
This is probably one of the easiest solutions to put into action. Most hosting companies will move your website for you, so it requires very little input from your end and can make a big difference to your page's loading times.
If your website is dynamic, executes a lot of code, and makes multiple databases queries before a page can be displayed, then you should consider upgrading to a more powerful server, likewise, if you're currently using a shared hosting account, then you could benefit from upgrading to your own VPS or even a dedicated server. With a dedicated server you wouldn't be sharing any resources with other websites, which means your website gets the full speed the server can provide.
Choosing a hosting company with servers located close to your target audience is another thing you can do to help improve the loading speeds for your visitors. If your target audience is located in the US, then host your website on a server that's located in the US, this means the data has less distance to travel, and ultimately, makes the pages load faster.
2. Use Browser Caching
This wont necessarily help for new visitors loading your homepage (or the first page they visit on your website), but it will help with the load speed of subsequent pages they visit on your website.
Browser caching lets you temporarily store some data on your visitor's computer, meaning they no longer need to wait for it to load every time they visit a page on your website. This is particularly useful for images such as the logo, background images, and stylesheets.
You can choose how long to store the data, using longer storage times for files that are unlikely to change.
3. Optimize your Images
Images are the main culprit when it comes to bandwidth hogs on the web.
Most webmasters use large images and then scale them to size using CSS, although this works perfectly from a design point of view, it's not the best solution when you're trying to improve your page loading times. When you scale an image in CSS, your visitors browser will still download the full-size image, and then scale it. If you scale the actual image to the right size, then there's no need to scale it in CSS and you can make some big improvements in the size of your page and the time in which it loads.
For example, if you have an image that is 1000 x 1000 pixels, and you're scaling that image down to 100 x 100 using CSS, then your visitor's browser is loading 10 times more data than necessary in order to display the image on the page.
As well as making sure you have images that are the right size, you can also compress them without losing any quality. If you're using a content management system like WordPress, then you can use plugins like WP Smush which will search your media library and compress the images for you automatically. If you're not using a CMS, then you can use tools such as Tiny PNG to compress your images. With tools like these, you can reduce the size of images by up to 80%.
4. Enable Compression
Compression is a great way to reduce file-size. Think of server compression like putting your website into a .zip file. By reducing your page's size, you will, in turn, increase the speed.
Compression can save up to 70% on your HTML and CSS files, which is a lot of data which your visitors will no longer need to download.
As compression is a server setting, the implementation will be different depending on your server and the settings you're using. If you're not familiar with compression and how to use it, your best bet would be to contact your hosting company and ask them about enabling compression on your server.
5. Optimize your CSS
CSS is one of the first things to load when a visitor opens a page on your website, the longer this takes the load, the longer they must wait to see your page. Optimizing your CSS means your visitors will see what they're looking for faster.
If you're anything like me, and you regularly update your website with new pages and tweak the design, then there is probably a bunch of CSS that's not even being used in your files. It's a good idea to go through your stylesheets and see what code can be removed, as every piece of wasted data makes a difference.
Once you've got rid of the superfluous code, you can minimize your CSS files. Even spaces in your stylesheets will increase the file size, so by minimizing your stylesheets, you decrease the file-size.
6. Keep Scripts Below the Fold
As marketers, we can't let this slow us down. It's important to keep on top of everything you can do in order to keep your pages loading quickly. As you can see from the 6 steps outlined in this post, it doesn't always take a lot of time to improve your page's loading speed and your visitors experience on your website.
There are, of course, plenty of internet marketing companies like ours (WeblinkIndia.NET) who can take care of this for you, but if you have a little bit of know-how and are ready to put in a few hours of time, you can do everything outlined in this post by yourself and you're guaranteed to have faster page loading times.
After-all, just a one-second delay can cost you a lead.