It is challenging to overstate the importance of website speed to your user and customer experience. It can make or break whether someone visits a site or bounces into another. Every second your site can’t be reached increases the odds that a visitor will take their business elsewhere.
Roughly 46 percent of people say a website’s loading time is the least ‘likable’ part of browsing the Internet. This concern creates an enormous incentive for companies to make sure their websites excel at speed. Sites that load within five seconds see 70 percent longer sessions than those that load in 19 seconds, for example.
Seconds are not the only unit of measurement, though. Extra milliseconds make a difference when it comes to web traffic, conversion rates, and click-through rates. According to Akamai Technologies, a 100-millisecond delay in loading time decreases conversion rates by seven percent, and a devastating 70 percent decrease if the delay lasts for an entire second.
The bottom line is that your website speed results in a better browsing experience for your potential customers and says a lot about your business. In today’s instantaneous culture, people want information or entertainment without delay. A high-powered website that delivers new pages quickly can help ensure visitors stick around for longer.
How Does Website Speed Actually Impact Search Ranking?
Search rankings are a result of search engine algorithms. Companies, such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, use rankings to evaluate the content on a website. The goal is to see whether the sites are useful and informative to search engine users. The better the site performs against the algorithm, the higher the search result ranking it attains.
Algorithms are not monoliths, though. These patterns are sophisticated and change continually. For instance, the Google algorithm will analyze the number of backlinks on a page, word choices, and site structure. These elements combine to form a search engine page rank.
One of the elements in the equation is website speed. While there is no specific definition for “site speed,” Google and other search engines consistently reward websites that deliver content quickly.
The illuminating question here is, “Why is website optimization important?” The short answer is better user experience, and website speed is one important extension of that optimization process.
The most apparent reflection of optimization is page rank. Google wants to ensure the best possible user experience when they click on a domain. Search engines are going to place useful, informative, and fast sites towards the top of its ranking recommendations.
How to Increase Website Speed
Website speed is vitally important, so the next step is to find and implement website optimization techniques to improve site speed. Here are a few ways to provide a significantly faster website.
1. Reduce Image Sizes
The eye processes an image 60,000 times faster than text. The scientific reality is why so many websites are graphic-heavy. Conveying messages via video, photos, infographics, or banners is a streamlined way of connecting with an audience.
Images come with larger file sizes, though. A wealth of visuals slows down a website significantly as it tries to upload high-resolution photos one by one. A solution is to compress images with a tool, such as TinyPNG, which minimizes the degradation of the pictures.
2. Reduce Web Fonts
A website’s font is one of the more innocuous parts of the design. Users typically only consider it when picking a theme that will match the aesthetic of the website. Specific web fonts can be a hindrance to overall website performance, however.
Web fonts might be problematic because they are customizable and have the potential for hefty file sizes. It can result in the website host retrieving significant amounts of data to display the text correctly. There are no hard limits to web fonts, but two or three fonts with regular, bold, and italics weighting are sufficient.
3. Find a Reliable Web Hosting Service
There are several ways to choose a web hosting service. The price and quality of services should be the focus with high uptimes, sizable storage, and reliable customer service.
Speed is also a critical factor when evaluating hosts. Many hosting services go out of their way to market the processing power and attract new customers. Here are the average speeds of the top ten worldwide hosts:
DreamHost: 1.119 seconds
Hub: 1.1252 seconds
A2 Hosting: 1.1286 seconds
HostNine: 1.2555 seconds
1&1 Internet: 1.2661 seconds
HostRocket: 1.3018 seconds
iPage: 1.3455 seconds
Web.com: 1.3702 seconds
HostMonster: 1.3804 seconds
SiteGround: 1.3941 seconds
4. Use Fewer Plug-Ins
Plug-ins are everywhere. Java, Adobe Flash Player, and QuickTime Player are a few of the prominent names. The more plug-ins a site contains, the more it will drain the overall website speed.
One method to counter this lag is to run a website speed tester. It allows users to see whether they need a specific plug-in. Removing unnecessary or outdated versions can improve website speed by two to four percent per plug-in.
5. Use Fewer Redirects
A website redirect, also known as URL redirection, is a way of making a website available under multiple URL addresses. The purpose is to redirect online traffic if a part of the site is under construction or there is a domain change. For instance, if a site has a 301-redirect, it means the content is permanently unavailable.
Redirections can be a useful tool to manage traffic flow, but too many make a site unwieldy. Users have to wait through additional HTTP requests, and the process can slow down the webpage. Using a crawler to find and manually fix redirects can be a time-saving tool.
How to Optimize Website Speed on Mobile
Roughly half of the online traffic stems from mobile devices. Experts expect that ratio to increase in the future as 62.9 percent of the world’s population already own a mobile phone. No matter where online visitors live, though, it is essential to deliver website content as quickly as possible to whatever device your potential customers happen to be using.
Here are a few tips for optimizing website speed on mobile:
1. Make Resources Smaller
Website codes contain thousands upon thousands of lines. While each line of code serves a specific purpose, there will be many sections that are unwanted or unnecessary. Minimizing or cleaning up your code can improve website speed significantly, in the same way that you effectively trim the excess fat from a juicy cut of meat.
2. Enable Browser Caching
Caching is another way of storing data so that people can compute future requests quicker. The tool is practical if someone visits a website, for example, and returns a day or two later. Browser caching stores the browser’s memory of the user interaction and ensures that some of the content is pre-loaded upon a return to the site.
Browser caching not only optimizes website speed but also boosts website performance. Saving files can make the visiting experience seamless as people hop instantly from one page to the next without delay. Researchers have found that a webpage with an empty browser page loads in approximately 2.4 seconds on average, while a full one will pop up in 0.9 seconds or less—a significant decrease in loading time and an important factor in happier user experience.
How Can I Increase My WordPress Website Speed?
WordPress is a behemoth in the content management system industry. It has a 60.4 percent market share, followed by Joomla, Drupal, Shopify, and Squarespace, which are each under six percent. If you are in the majority of business who use WordPress, here are three ways to optimize the website:
1. Update Themes and Plug-Ins
One of the most straightforward website optimization techniques is to update themes and plug-ins. People love to run “remind me tomorrow” options on upgrades, but prompt updating frees up storage space and ensures the best possible user experience with these applications. For instance, an outdated plug-in might be slowing a website’s overall speed.
2. Make Long Comments and Articles Multiple Pages
Large posts mean sizable amounts of data. All the data has to go somewhere, and it can burden a website’s speed. The hurdle is especially true for blogs, articles, and copy with multiple high-definition pictures.
A workaround is to separate the articles into multiple pages. Instead of users scrolling endlessly down a page, they can click a “Next Page” icon that allows them to continue reading. The same logic applies to bulky comment sections.
Website owners can split comments in WordPress by clicking “Settings,” then “Discussions,” and checking the box “Break Comments into Pages.”
3.Take Advantage of a Content Delivery Network
One component of website speed is the distance between the user and the web hosting service. The further users are from the servers, the longer it takes for a site to display content, and vice versa.
Web hosts can mitigate the negative impact of distance with a Content Delivery Network (or CDN). The CDN contains website files and delivers them via a server that is closer to the visitor as opposed to the original one. A popular CDN plug-in on WordPress is Cloudflare, for example.