How many times have you abandoned a website because it doesn't load fast enough? I'm guessing quite a few and it's a common practice almost half of users will leave a website that doesn't load within 3 seconds, that's a lot of potential customers you're losing to the competition, but how does this affect your rankings on Google?
The internet giant wants to provide the best user experience possible for its customers and click backs and bounces show them that the website in question does not have the high-quality content the user is looking for and is not worthy of a top-ranking position. The good news is there are ways to ensure your site loads quickly, here are 10 simple ways of reducing load time:
If you have a number of large resolution images on your site it will load slower, but a site without pictures, well that's just boring, so what can you do? Either change the resolution before uploading the image which will reduce the quality or compress the file, this will reduce the file size without compromising on quality, free up more space and increase loading speed. A great tool for this can be found here.
This allows visitors to access previously visited pages more quickly, put simply it takes a snapshot of the page and when a user returns this static page is what they are shown first, Caching speeds up a site significantly but can be quite tricky to implement for beginners. If you are using WordPress a popular cache plug-in is W3 Total Cache if not you will need to set up your website to cache at server level.
Too many plug-ins can drastically affect a website's loading time so it's essential to use them sparingly and check regularly to see if there is a new or faster alternative. If there are any you do not use regularly or are not performing how they should delete them. Try disabling individual plugins, then testing server performance. This way you will identify the plugins that are slowing your site down.
Consider VPS hosting
Most small business websites are hosted on a shared server which means you share bandwidth with hundreds perhaps thousands of other sites, while this option is invariably cheaper and is usually sufficient for sites with less than 10,000 monthly visitors there are some disadvantages one of the main ones being loading speed.
A virtual private server offers dedicated server within shared hosting combining the best of both worlds and can see loading speeds reduced dramatically, one of the best VPS packages can be found here.
Minimise HTTP requests
Most of a website's load time is spent downloading the various aspects of each page: stylesheets, images, Flash, etc. A separate HTTP request is required for each one of these components, so the more you have on your pages, the longer it takes the page to load. The first thing to do is to check how many HTTP requests are on the page and how long each of them takes to load this can be done by using the Google Chrome Network Tool It shows all the files needed for the browser to download the page as well as telling you which files took the longest to load.
Once you have discovered which components are slowing down your website's loading speed it's easy to make changes by compressing files, combining CSS files or removing the main culprits altogether after all it's no good having a lengthy tutorial video or fancy animated graphics if no one stays on the site long enough to see them.
We've mentioned the advantages of compressing images but did you know you can also compress whole pages. High quality content is vital for any successful website and this will produce large pages which are often over 100kb and as a result are slow to download. This can be solved by using a tool called Gzip Compressing files into the Gzip format, which is supported by the majority of browsers, can reduce loading speed by up to 70% according to Yahoo.
Not only a cast iron way to get a visitor to leave your site broken links are also a drain on bandwidth and having a lot of them can significantly slow down your website. We've all seen them; error 404 - this page cannot be found and boy are they annoying. Google doesn't like them either, so these 3 tips are worth following.
As discussed the more HTTP requests you have the longer your site takes to load and redirects increase HTTP requests therefore is is vital to keep these to a minimum Redirects take visitors of one page to another file or location for example perhaps you wish to direct the user from your main site to the mobile responsive version or perhaps some information on your site has been moved, while some may be essential they do have a negative impact on way pagespeed and should be used as little as possible. a good tool to check your website for redirects is the redirect mapper tool.
You can improve the user's online experience by having your above-the-fold content load faster, this means that the top of the page which contains the relevant information for a potential customer loads first. This is achieved by putting your CSS as near to the top of your page as possible, why? because browsers will not render the page before rendering the CSS file.
Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
Hosting your web content on a CDN is one of the most effective ways to speed up your site, and can save up to 60% bandwidth. They work by hosting your files across a network of optimised servers around the globe, enabling users to download files from the nearest server whether that is in Thailand, The USA or UK this reduces the load on a single server and also hence increasing the speed and also enhancing the security of your website. All the largest sites use a CDN but they can be expensive and are not necessary for smaller websites some popular CDNs include
Some of these tips are easy enough to implement and can be addressed by anyone with a bit of knowledge about how their website works, but a few are advanced strategies that can be quite intimidating if you aren’t technically minded.
If that’s the case, but you want to get the best from your website you may need some advice.
Search Rise Marketing can speed up your website loading time so give us a call today to see how we can help.