Website speed matters.
I’m referring about the speed at which your website loads when visited.
It’s so important that Google included it as a ranking factor back in 2010.
According to the search giant, they’re obsessed with speed for two very good reasons: 1) the faster your site, the more likely readers will be happy when viewing it, and 2) the happier your visitors are, the more likely they are to stay on your site.
You see, Google’s mandate is to provide people with the very best answers to the questions they search for. Part of the Google user experience includes serving up the information as fast as possible.
If you have a slow, clunky website, you can be certain that Google is penalizing your site and you’re ranking lower than you could be in search results.
Hacking website speed
In this blog post, I’m going to share five ways to increase your website speed. Together, these tips should help you shave seconds off your website’s load time, make more visitors happier, and drive more business.
1. Use smaller images
Image size is one of the most underestimated factors that’s responsible for many slow-to-load websites. In most cases, PNG images are used because they are of a higher quality, however they’re large and require more effort to load.
THE FIX: use JPEG images. JPEGs are much smaller image files that load faster.
What if you absolutely need to use an image that’s only available in PNG format? Easy, we use a handy (free) website called compressor.io to change the format from PNG to JPEG.
The site also does a great job of maintaining image quality.
2. Use lightweight code
CSS or Cascading Stylesheets are responsible for all the style components of your website, including how your buttons look, the color of tabs and more.
When your website is visited by a user, the CSS code is accessed in one of two ways: it could be pulled from an external file, making the information load before your page renders; or the CSS can be inline, meaning it’s mixed in with the rest of the HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) that’s used to design your website.
Here’s what CSS from an external source looks like in your website code:
<!—Your styles –>
<link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” media=”all” href=http://yourURL/style.css />
Here’s what CSS included with HTML looks like:
If your website’s CSS is used in line with HTML, this increases the amount of code on your site, which results in a longer load time.
THE FIX: Use external stylesheets to reduce the amount of code on your site.
Not sure how many external stylesheets your website is using? Try this free tool CSS Delivery Tool.
3. Remove unnecessary plugins
If you own a WordPress website, you likely have a love-hate relationship with plugins. They’re necessary to perform very specific functions (load scripts, styles and features), but poorly developed plugins can be responsible for security vulnerabilities and slow down your site.
Unused plugins often cause website crashes and make your site a little more bulky than necessary, and eventually slow it down.
THE FIX: remove all unused plugins and keep your active plugins updated. Updates make plugins more secure and help protect your site from vulnerabilities that plugins might be susceptible to.
PRO TIP: Be sure to back up your site before any major updates.
4. Compress large pages
If you’re in the habit of producing webpages with tons of content (images, links to video etc.), they’re likely large (100kb+) and can load slowly.
THE FIX: Compress files to make them load faster. Compression reduces webpage bandwidth consumption, making your site load quicker.
How do you compress your pages?
Use a free tool called Gzip.
We recommend reading this article before you use Gzip, and here are instructions on how to set it up on your server:
Apache: Use mod_deflate
Nginx: Use HttpGzipModule
5. Enable browser caching
Whenever a user visits your website, your server pushes out code that takes the form of your website in their browser.
The more a user visits, the more requests need to be fulfilled by your server. While this is an okay process, there is a way to speed up the delivery of content to your user’s computer.
THE FIX: Enabling browser caching on your server allows the user’s computer to store a version of your site locally on their PC. This means that the number of requests for information is limited to just the new content and not every part of your website when a user visits it.
Here’s a great article on how to enable browser caching on your server.
Website speed is a big deal. If your site is slow, you can be certain that Google is penalizing you and your rankings are taking a knock. Luckily, by decreasing the size of your images, using less code, updating plugins regularly and removing those you don’t use, compressing webpages, and enabling browser caching on your server will help your site load faster.
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