Have you ever abandoned a website just because it took too long to load? For most internet users, this is a common frustration. Fast website speed is one of the most important elements of your website. Visitors care about the speed of your website — and so do search engines like Google and Bing. If your website takes too long to load, you’ll experience low search engine rankings since Google and Bing downgrade slow websites.
Remember, you are in competition for online traffic with other sites in your niche. If your competitors prioritize optimizing their website performance, they’ll already have a much greater advantage. Potential visitors or customers may prefer to buy from your competitors, simply because they have a faster website.
Ultimately, slow website speed affects traffic and conversions. Google’s algorithm will prioritize a website that takes two seconds to load rather than one that takes 10 seconds to open. Poor Google rankings will hurt your bottom line. Fortunately, you have control over this. There are various steps that you can take as a website owner or developer to make sure your site has lightning-fast website speed for a better user experience.
What Is Page Speed?
The term page speed implies how fast content on your website loads when a user visits it. Page speed refers to the milliseconds or seconds that it takes for media content to be displayed on a browser from hosting servers.
Different elements of your website affect the time it takes for your website to download web pages, including:
- Your website code
- Media files such as images and videos present on your site
- Themes and plugins
Why Does Website Speed Matter?
When it comes to website speed, every second matters. Google — the most popular search engine — recommends a loading time of fewer than three seconds as the best practice for mobile pages. Faster website speeds have been linked to happier visitors that end up spending more time browsing content.
Your website’s speed matters for two main reasons:
- User experience (UX)
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
About 40% of users will abandon your website if it takes over three seconds to load. Approximately 47% of users expect web pages to load within two seconds or less.
All in all, your website speed plays a major role in UX. Poor website performance may affect UX since no one likes slow websites. This applies regardless of what you are offering or how great your website looks. Your visitors are a click away from abandoning your site because of its unresponsiveness.
Website speed is one of the ranking factors that both Google and Bing use. Search engine spiders typically measure the speed of your website using your page’s HTML code. Google also uses real data from its browser users to get a better understanding of a site’s loading time.
To determine SEO rankings, Google measures both mobile and desktop searches. If your website performance isn’t up to par, users won’t be able to access the content on your site. You can suffer low search engine rankings if your website is intolerably slow.
What Should You Look for When Measuring Website Speed?
Website performance greatly influences web traffic and search engine result pages (SERPs) rankings. Low bounce rates eventually translate into more conversions and higher sales figures. Website speed is a crucial factor that can keep impatient visitors engaged with your site and improve UX.
When boosting website performance, it’s important to conduct an audit to unearth website performance bottlenecks. There are various indicators that you can measure to identify loopholes affecting the speed of your website, including:
Initial Page Speed. The initial page speed of your website will increase user engagement, even when large graphics take longer to render. Carrying out ping requests from servers or monitoring indicators like time to first byte (TTFB) can help shed light on website speed statistics. Website core optimization may be necessary if the initial page speed is low.
Geographic Performance. Website owners have a global reach, offering their products or services to more customers. Measuring website performance can help determine if its speed and performance are equally efficient around the world. Issues like technology limitations and bandwidth may affect the performance of your website in different parts of the world.
Entire Page Load Time: When testing how website performance affects the UX, finding out how long it takes to render the content of an entire page is critical. Frequent monitoring helps determine how hardware infrastructure can be deployed to improve website performance.
Load Tolerance: Website traffic affects how your website performs. If you invest in servers that can only handle the typical load at optimum performance, you may experience website performance problems if your website encounters excess traffic. To find out if your site can handle heavy traffic without interfering with website performance, you should run ramp tests, stress tests, and load tests.
What Speed Testing Tools Can You Use to Test Website Performance?
Before embarking on a website speed optimization journey, you need to find out what is affecting your site’s performance. There are many tools that you can use to gauge website speed and performance:
PageSpeed Insights. This Google tool will give you a detailed report regarding your website’s speed. It offers both desktop and mobile suggestions on a scale of 0 to 100. A score of 85 or more typically shows that your website is performing well. This easy-to-use tool helps you gain insights that can catapult your site to reach performance benchmarks that Google considers critical for SERP rankings.
Pingdom. This free speed testing tool grades and tracks the performance of websites. You can run tests on individual web pages, displaying results scored out of 100. Pingdom also lets you create uptime alerts, notifying you when the server experiences technical issues.
WebPageTest. This open-source project lets users conduct website speed tests from various locations around the world. It’s great for advanced users who want to find out in-depth analytics regarding performance bottlenecks and recommendations to boost website performance. With WebPageTest, you can find out if your website is faster or slower than your competitors’ websites. It lets you run complex tests like content blocking and multi-step transitions.
YSlow. Yahoo!’s website performance tool is free to use. It requires installation since it’s a browser add-on that grades the speeds of websites. This tool offers advice on how you can improve website speed, listing 23 performance guidelines that can help you improve your website performance.
GTmetrix. Beginners will find this website speed analysis tool easy to use. It caters to your speed optimization needs by analyzing your website’s load times. It also combines suggestions from YSlow and Google PageSpeed Insights on how to boost your website’s load time.
Google Mobile-Friendly Test. This tool is powered by Google PageSpeed Insights to test your site’s mobile friendliness. All you have to do is input your URL and let the tool scan your website to determine whether it is mobile-friendly.
Does a Mobile-First Approach Beat a Desktop-First Approach?
There are roughly 6.4 billion smartphone users in the world, meaning an estimated 80% of the world’s population own smartphones.
More and more internet users are switching to browsing websites using smartphones. The adoption of smartphones has created intense competition for mobile users.
Businesses are now taking a mobile-first approach to optimizing their sites due to Google’s mobile-first indexing. Desktop internet marketing now seems like an old model given the success of the mobile internet marketing segment.
Mobile users who visit desktop versions of sites often experience slow load times, as well as functionality and usability issues. Overlooking these aspects can severely hurt your online business, reducing your brand’s value and affecting mobile purchases.
Ideally, a mobile-friendly website should:
- Not require users to scroll horizontally to view content
- Contain text large enough for users to view and read on smartphones
- Not have clickable links crowded together
Adopting a mobile-first web design through accelerated mobile pages (AMP) can offer faster load times for your web pages than regular HTML templates. AMP pages are lighter versions of your website pages that don’t contain lots of images, adverts, and large files that affect website performance. These pages are stripped-down web page versions that may even load within less than a second.
When you use AMP pages, Google caches your website content to speed up your website’s load time. This ensures mobile users will get a sleeker and faster UX with better visibility on SERPs.
How Can You Enhance Your Website Speed?
Have you tested your website speed recently? It likely can be faster.
Developing an efficient site takes work. Website owners who disregard speed-optimized websites and embark on basic website optimization measures often end up with slow and unresponsive websites.
Many leading businesses in the online space are investing in strategies to boost their website speed, improve UX, and gain better SEO results. By employing the right website speed optimization tactics, you can yield optimum website performance and gain more traffic and conversions, which ultimately translates into business success.
To enhance your website speed, here are 10 ways to guarantee speed optimization.
1. Use a Simple Website Design
Having a simple and clean website design can improve your website speed tremendously. That cool transition when you drop down your menu may be what’s causing your website to lag. It may imply that some extra features have to load to bring out that sophisticated effect on your website. Elements like images can boost UX but also affect website speed.
It’s important not to clog your website with unnecessary themes, since they come with lots of dependencies and scripts that can impact your website’s performance. Minimalism can be the key to ease both backend and frontend code, without compromising website performance, brand image, and site design.
2. Limit Plugins
Plugins are a double-edged sword when it comes to website performance. Less can be more!
When installing plugins on your website, it’s essential to avoid plugins that don’t improve the functionality of your website. At times, developers add many plugins that contain unnecessary features that bloat your site.
With that being said, many reputable plugins can greatly improve how your site operates. Popular websites may at times have as many as 100 plugins. Still, such websites are able to load in the shortest time possible. This shows that it isn’t just about the number of plugins you install, but their quality. Your website could have just five plugins that completely ruin website speed.
For instance, the plugin “Facebook like box” by Facebook usually adds 400 kilobytes to the total webpage weight, affecting how much time it takes to load pages.
When installing quality plugins on your website, there are certain issues to consider, including:
- Will the plugin execute intricate tasks?
- Will it be required to load a lot of scripts and assets?
- Will this increase database queries for each web page request?
If the response to all the above issues is “YES,” you should be wary about the plugin in question. It’s also important to install the latest versions of plugins that don’t pose security threats to your website or present compatibility issues, both of which can result in poor website performance.
3. Avoid Ads
Having ads on your website may seem lucrative. However, ads from Google AdSense and other third-party ad providers may ultimately ruin your website speed. If you run ads on your site, it may take as long as 12 seconds for your website to load. It’s also nearly impossible to optimize third-party content you have no control over.
4. Remove Unnecessary Elements
There are certain elements, like massive databases, that can weigh down your site. This is common with e-commerce sites that deal with large inventories. Such websites also have many system backups implemented on a server level that may affect website performance.
Too much white space in the code also affects how much time a website takes to load. Adding extra line breaks to your site’s code to make it easier to understand may leave chunks of unnecessary space that can be removed to improve the time it takes to download web pages.
Also, don’t forget to deal with garbage content, including:
- Unapproved comments
- Spam comments
- Trashed items like unused pages
- Saved posts
- Page revisions
5. Make Comments Brief
If you decide to keep a comments section on your website, the comments should be clean to limit any drain on your site’s performance. The comments section can be very useful to engage with your visitors, answer any queries, and keep in touch with them. However, a comments thread may also require a lot of data to load.
If your website can operate without the comments section, consider removing it. Alternately, you can disable user avatars — doing away with images — so that users can only view texts in such sections.
6. Improve Your Hosting Plan
A performance-optimized hosting provider can significantly boost your website speed.
One of the worst mistakes for any website owner is to opt for mediocre hosting solutions. Settling for a cheap hosting provider usually affects website performance. This implies that you share resources with other websites on a bloated server, ultimately affecting your site’s loading times.
Performance-oriented hosting solutions like virtual private server (VPS) hosting and dedicated hosting are options to consider if you want super fast website performance. VPS hosting is a scalable solution that can improve website speed for bloggers, as well as small and medium enterprises.
On the other hand, dedicated hosting may be the best hosting solution for large enterprises that want full access and control of the server’s resources. Some of the features of dedicated hosting services include:
- Frequent software updates
- Performance testing, monitoring, and optimization
- Database optimization
- Content optimization
- Search engine optimization
7. Use Third-Party Hosting for Large Files
Google loves rich content, including images and videos, and so do internet users.
But uploading videos to your website may be detrimental if you want to achieve lightning-fast website speed. Videos can consume too much website space, slowing down your website. Just one video of over 100MB can easily affect the performance of your entire website.
When several visitors watch the same video on your website simultaneously, this could strain your server, given its limited bandwidth. This, in turn, may affect UX since different devices from different places may be downloading the same content from your site.
If you want to improve website speed, it’s advisable to host videos on third-party video hosting websites like YouTube or Vimeo. All you need to do is embed the videos you post to these sites on your website, saving you space and improving your website speed.
8. Polish Your Homepage
The first page most visitors to your website see is your homepage. There’s only one chance to make a first impression. Keeping this page speedy and responsive is critical to the success of your online business.
For starters, you can limit displaying entire posts on your homepage. Let’s be honest, most people don’t read full posts on the first page. Having loads of posts on your first page can significantly slow down your website.
Let visitors see excerpts from various featured posts that they can click on and be directed to different pages. Doing away with sharing widgets from your first page can also help refine your homepage’s performance. You can install such widgets on blog pages or product pages.
9. Repair Broken Links
Broken links on your site are super annoying. They frustrate users and also stress your website’s bandwidth. To improve website performance, you should crawl through your web pages to analyze if all links are functioning properly. If you identify broken links, make sure you fix them immediately.
10. Split Longer Posts
When it comes to SEO, long-form content can be rewarding for any website. It helps build brand authority since users know who to turn to for informative content. They trust you as a credible source of information in your niche.
However, too much content with thousands of words and images puts too much data on one web page, making it take longer for your server to render the page. To deal with longer posts that affect your website speed, consider breaking up such long-form content into various pages.
Do You Want To Achieve Super Fast Speed for Your Website?
There are over 1.8 billion websites today. Some of these websites are run by competitors in your niche who could drive you out of business. For this reason, you should never ignore website performance. This is one of the biggest SEO mistakes most business owners make.
Everyone hates slow websites. Web users won’t stick around to see what you offer if your website has too many annoying pop-ups that affect UX.
Your site’s speed can make or break your business.
Poor-performing websites translate into higher bounce rates, less repeat traffic, little to no user engagement, and poor conversions. On the other hand, a super fast website can contribute tremendously to business growth and online success.
The website performance experts at Redstitch Digital are experienced in helping website speed optimization and helping brands achieve their SEO goals. We are ready to identify what’s dragging down your website’s speed and offer you concrete solutions.
Contact us today to schedule your consultation. Let us improve your website speed to boost the UX of all visitors to your site.