You think the need to improve your website’s performance doesn’t matter? Well, think again. Recent research has found out that a delay of a single second in the loading time of a page can decrease page views by 11 percent, customer satisfaction by 16 percent, and conversions by 7 percent.
Excited to learn about how to improve your website’s performance? Well, read through this guide for more information on why speed is so important, and how you can achieve it to increase the speed of your website and keep as many visitors around as possible.
How Can Website Optimization Influence Performance?
The bottom line behind your website is to achieve customer engagement, and then influence higher conversion rates. However, slow speed can kill your conversions.
Website viewers have become impulsive and want their content to load in the fastest time possible. 47 percent of all consumers want the websites they visit to be ready within two seconds or less. 40 percent of viewers confessed to abandoning and cancelling pages taking three seconds or more to load. That is why it is absolutely crucial ti improve your website’s performance.
What is the Ideal Load Time?
Before we get to the crux of this article and give you sure-shot methods on how to improve speed and performance, we’ll give you an idea of where to set the goal for the future. With limited knowledge of the acceptable page speed, you won’t be able to set goals for yourself.
According to Google, the best loading time is three seconds or less. However, not many companies have that type of loading speed to boast of. An analysis of 900,000 mobile ads across the globe revealed that they had a load time of 7 seconds for visual content to display.
This goes to show that site owners across the globe have to put in a lot of effort and a lot of work to ensure that they rank their website attains a perfect load time of 3 seconds or less. That is why the need to improve your website’s performance is so critical for numerous reasons.
How to Speed up your Website
Remember, your website can perform poorly because of a variety of reasons. This is why there are numerous steps that you’ll have to take to rectify the damage done, and to improve your user’s experience.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Cometh the hour, cometh the solution; a Content Delivery Network or CDN is just what you need to optimize your web speed across the globe. For those who haven’t heard of one before, a content delivery network is basically the name given to a set of servers across geographical locations around the globe. These servers provide quick web content to end
users, regardless of their location. Websites hosting a single server often go slow because of all requests being sent to the same hardware. The extra time spent processing these requests, kills the purpose and delays the process. The load time also increases, if your users are located far away from the hosting server. With CDN, all user requests are redirected to the closest server, which is why the load time decreases and the website becomes faster. This can be an expensive option, but optimizing load time is worth the money if you are to seriously improve your website’s performance.
Move to a Better Hosting Type
- Shared hosting
- Virtual Private Servers (VPS) Hosting
- Dedicated Server
Shared hosting is the most popular out of these three types, because of the mere fact that it is cheaper in comparison to VPS and dedicated servers. Since most site owners are looking for the cheapest way to get their site online, they opt for shared hosting. However, if you truly want to speed up your website, and ensure that it gives optimal performance, then you’d have to make the shift towards VPS or dedicated servers.
Dedicated hosting, which is the most expensive out of all hosting plans, gives you your very own physical server. This is the most desirable out of all options for big scale websites that service pretty much across the globe.
You have public cloud providers as well, which include Google, Microsoft Azure and AWS. These providers give you the option to rent a dedicated resource from the cloud. With so much variety to choose from for hosting, you can make a detailed decision based on what you consider to be best way to improve your website’s performance.
Optimize Your Images
However, there is a downside with using too many images on your website. Images are usually large files that take up a lot of space, and slow down the website. If you upload high quality images, directly to your website, you too would see how the website is slowing down and the load time is increasing.
A solution to this problem is to compress the size of the image, without compromising on the quality that it brings. Sounds impossible? Well, it isn’t. With the help of tools like Kraken, ImageOptim and JPEGmini, you can compress the size of the image without reducing the quality. The procedure for reducing the size of the file does take some time, but it really is worth it. Another method you can follow to reduce load times without taking off all images, is to use the HTML responsive image <size> and <secret> attributes. These adjust the image size according to the users display properties. Optimizing your images, above all else, is the best way to improve your website’s performance.
Reduce Number of Plugins
Plugins are commonly applied across a wide variety of websites. These plugins add specific features designed, and suggested by third parties to your website. They ultimately enhance the overall curb appeal of your website, and make it smoother and interactive.
However, the more plugins you install on your website, the slower it will get. The website’s speed decreases with the addition of plugins, because it now requires additional resources to run the plugins.
As time passes by, you keep adding plugins to your website, without checking on the previous ones to see whether they are still useful for you or not. Hence, we recommend that you check out all the plugins that you have on your website, and only keep the ones that are useful for you currently.
You can also run a performance test in this regard to find out the plugins that are slowing down your website. Your website’s speed cannot just be impacted by the quantity of the plugins, but also by the quality of them. So, make sure that you keep checking their quality over time, and replace or remove plugins that are hindering performance.
Use Website Caching To Improve Your Website’s Performance
Caching is the process that can curtail this problem, as it stores the current version of your website on your hosting. For those who aren’t aware of it, caching takes the current version of your website and stores it on the host server. This stored version is readily presented to visitors, until your website gets updated. This means that now the web page will not render over and over again for every user, as cached web pages don’t have to send a database request each time.
This mentioned caching process largely depends on the type of platform that your website has been developed on. For websites that have been developed on WordPress, the W3 Total Cache or the
W3 Super Cache would work perfectly fine. If you’re using a VPS or a dedicated server for hosting, you can set up caching under the general settings for the plan. However, website caching is often not available when it comes to shared server plans.
Gzip compression is an extremely effective method for reducing the sizes of the files you are working on. This method of compression greatly minimizes the HTTP requests and reduces the response time taken by the server. Gzip works by compressing all of your files, before they are sent to the browser.
On the other side of the screen, a browser rapidly unzips the files and presents the contents to the viewers. This method of compression can work to improve your website’s performance with almost all files within your website, and can significantly reduce the load time on your site. You can easily enable Gzip through the use of some codes or by the use of a utility by the same name
Database Optimization for Content Management System
Those who have worked on WordPress would know the amount of space that the WordPress CMS takes. Their content management system stores blog posts, comments, and all other information pertaining to the post. If you want to optimize the CMS for your website, you would have to look for the appropriate tools for doing so. The CMS for websites on WordPress can be optimized through WP-Optimize.
Detect 404 Errors
The first step to handling this problem requires the proper detection of all pages with 404 errors. For this, you will have to take the help of error detection plugins and tools. External tools and plugins like Xenu’s Link Sleuth, Google Webmaster Tools and Redirectioner Plugin for WordPress help you run this detection.
Once you have detected all the pages with a 404 error, you can assess the traffic that each of these pages generate. If these dead pages don’t bring in any visitors in, and are just an additional load on your server, then it is best to leave these pages as they are. However, if these pages are still bringing in traffic, you can consider fixing the internal links to redirect traffic properly. This well significantly help improve your website’s performance.
Prioritize Loading Above-the-fold Content
You can significantly improve perception and user experience, by making the content above the fold load faster than the rest of the page. With this addition, you will have some content to show, even if the page itself is taking too much time to load. This responsive method, known as lazy loading, is beneficial for pages that have great chunks of content under their fold.
Let’s say for example, that you post a blog post with over 10 to 15 images. Normally, your viewer’s system would load all these images, before it gets to showing anything else on the page.
However, by applying lazy loading, you can easily load the entire written content first, as the browser concurrently also downloads the images and displays them. This way, your viewers won’t be left waiting for the whole page to load, and would see the images as they load over time. This practice will significantly reduce all of your load times, and will ensure that the speed of the website is at par with the requirements of the users. Additionally, if your images are optimized through the methods mentioned above, the page will load even quicker and in a comprehensive manner.
Reducing your page load time and overall website speed to where you want it to be can often be a complex undertaking. However, if you do the job well, and give attention to all that we have mentioned above, you will get a better performing website that generates greater traffic and conversion.
About the author:
Heather Singer is an SEO specialist at Nimbus Marketing. She has a passion for reading and writing. She can often be found watching her favorite teams (The Angels & Chargers) lose, or found spending time with her family outdoors.