What do you think of the loading speed of your website as a search engine ranking factor? As a website owner, the impact of your website loading time on traffic, conversions and revenue should not be underestimated; Because page load time decides whether a visitor to your site will explore further or part their ways. In fact, more than 83% visitors expect a web page to load in 3 seconds or less and more than 40% visitors abandon a web page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
In today’s Internet, the mantra is to make a web site as flashy as possible. As designers and developers, we tend to forget that there are a lot of people out there that still use dial-up or browse on slow Internet connections. It is easy to sit at home or work on a broadband connection and not worry about speed. But try going to a location that has slow connections or browse on a phone or portable device and you can quickly get impatient.
Google recently announced that site speed will affect page ranking. With this recent announcement, it is more important than ever to tune up the performance of your web site. What can cause speed problems and how do you fix them? That is what we hope to answer in this article.
There are certain facts occurs due to slow loading speed of your website
- A 1 second delay in load time leads to 11% fewer page views, 16% decrease in customer satisfaction and 7% loss in conversions.
- 79% shoppers who have trouble with web site performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again.
- 44% of visitors will develop a negative image of the company if the site crashes or the load time is poor.
- If an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost $2.5 million lost in sales every year.
- Conversion rate increases 74% when page load time improves from 8 to 2 seconds.
Another way is to use the following guidelines:
Below 1 second = perfect
1-3 seconds = above average
3-7 seconds = average
7+ seconds = very poor
Here are a few proven methods by which you can decrease the website loading time.
Before you start optimizing your website to load faster, there are two things you should consider:
First, go and check your current website load-time via Pingdom or Google PageSpeed Insights. This helps you to compare the speed changes once you’ve tweaked your site. Secondly, make sure you back-up your site as some of the methods require tweaking/editing files that can mess up your site.
1. Use a Content Distribution Network (CDN)
Hosting your media files on a content delivery network is one of the best ways to speed up your site, and can often saves up to 60% bandwidth and halve the number of requests your website makes.
2. Get a Better Web Host
If everything you’re doing to make your website faster isn’t working, or you’re only noticing little, insignificant difference in site speed from following best practices, perhaps it’s time to change your web host. If you plan on having millions of hits per month, you might want to choose a hosting provider who can deliver. Let us look at a few options that are provided with hosting companies.
First, there is shared hosting. With Shared hosting your site is hosted on a server with many other sites. How many sites? That depends on the hosting company. You might want to ask your hosting provider how many sites they limit to a server and ask for the server specs. Some hosting providers will provide this information to you.
Another option would be dedicated hosting. Dedicated hosting provides a dedicated server for your web site. Some web hosting companies allow you to have complete control over the OS and you may even be able to use remote desktop functions to login to the server. With dedicated hosting, you may also host multiple web sites on one server. One other thing to keep in mind with dedicated hosting is that most hosting companies use virtual servers to host dedicated servers.
There are three hosting companies that I’d recommend choosing between.
WPEngine – They’re not the cheapest host (their prices start at $29/month), but if you’re running a WordPress site with over 30,000 visits a month, it’s well worth the price tag. The great thing about WPEngine is that most of what’s mentioned in this post is built into their platform. So you get a lightening speed site without having to worry about setting up CDNs and playing around with the .htaccess file.
BlueHost – Perhaps the most affordable (decent) hosting company, BlueHost costs as little as $3.95 to host an unlimited number of domains. While their entry package isn’t as fast as WPEngine, their higher tier packages are very fast and reliable.
Hosting24 –Hosting24 is very good all round. Their packages start at $4.84 per month for shared hosting and $14.84 for VPS hosting, which is very reasonable.
3. Optimize your homepage to load quickly
This isn’t one thing but really a few easy things that you can do to ensure that your homepage loads quickly, which probably is the most important part of your site because people will be landing there the most often.
Things that you can do include:
- Show excerpts instead of full posts
- Reduce the number of posts on the page (I like showing between 5-7)
- Remove unnecessary sharing widgets from the home page (include them only in posts)
- Remove inactive plugins and widgets that you don’t need
- Keep in minimal! Readers are here for content, not 8,000 widgets on the homepage
4. Browser Caching
When an online visitor lands on your webpage, her browser downloads the elements which are on that webpage. If that person lands again on the same website / webpage, her browser would be downloading all those elements once more. However, if you have enabled browser caching, that wouldn’t be happening.
Browser caching enables you to temporarily store data on your website visitor’s computer. So when they land on your website again, they don’t have to download all these elements from the scratch. And when they don’t have to download the elements as if they’re visiting for the first time, the webpage loads pretty quickly.
There are different ways to enable website caching depending on what platform you are using; for WordPress, you can install the following plugins:
5. Reduce Plugins
Unnecessary plugins and add-ons can reduce your website speed by A LOT, and it’s especially important to pay attention to them if you use blogging CMSs like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal.
It’s very important to note that it’s not just about the number of plugins you have installed on your website but about the quality as well; a website with 50 plugins can load much faster than a website with 10 plugins. If the website with fewer plugins have crappy plugins; generally, you want to avoid plugins that load a lot of scripts and styles, plugins that perform lots of remote requests and plugins that add extra database queries to every page on your website.
6. Image Optimization
Un-optimized images can be very heavy, and as a result use a lot of server resources and take longer to load; if the average image size on your website is 1mb or 2mb+, you’ve got serious work to do. If you’re using WordPress, install the WP Smush.it plugin to automatically compress your images. This will reduce the size of your images without losing any visual quality. The great thing about this plugin is that it works in the background every time you upload a new image. You can also run it retrospectively on all of the images uploaded to your media library.
7. Regularly Optimize Your Database
This is an often ignored but very powerful way to improve your website loading time; it is especially effective if you use WordPress or any CMS that rely heavily on database usage. WP Optimize is a fantastic plugin that routinely deletes all of the stuff you don’t need that’s cluttering up your database.
8. Compress your website with gzip
You’ve probably tried compressing a file on your computer and you’ve seen what a massive reduction in size this can result in; a 60mb file can be compressed to just 5mb. Gzip compression works in the same way, but for websites; Gzip automatically compresses your website files into zip files, drastically reducing the size of your files and improve your website loading time as a result.
To check whether Gzip is enabled or working properly on your site, you can use Gziptest.com.
10. Turn off ping backs and trackbacks in WordPress
By default, WordPress interacts with other blogs that are equip with pingbacks and trackbacks.
Every time another blog mentions you, it notifies your site, which in turn updates data on the post. Turning this off will not destroy the backlinks to your site, just the setting that generates a lot of work for your site.
11. Fix All Broken Links on Your Website
12. Apply CSS3 and HTML5 to Improve Page Load Time
CSS3 and HTML 5 framework are lightweight and make it easier for mobile web pages to load quickly. CSS3 has features including rounded corners, animations and text/box shadow, which makes it one of the most preferred choices for many.
Why it is important to increase page speed
With mobile Internet usage expected to take over desktop usage in 12 months time. It’s never been as important as it is right now to fix your site speed. Internet users are less tolerant of slow websites than they’ve ever been, and the shift towards Internet-enabled mobile devices means that if you’re not fast, you’re not going to be seen.
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