8 Most Important Things You Need to Do for Website Speed Optimization
According to Google, 53% of people abandon websites that take more than three seconds to load. This fact alone shows why website speed optimization is one of the major things to consider while working with SEO.
Google’s main search ranking algorithm, Rank brain, is directly connected to the website speed. It measures these three things:
- How long a person stays on the webpage.
- When does a person close the website after opening it?
- How many people leave the website immediately after opening the first page.
For the second part, if you have a low page speed and people exit it without even opening and spending a few seconds, you have a problem.
Website Speed Optimization and Mobile Browsing
In July 2019, Google declared mobile-first indexing (https://developers.google.com/search/mobile-sites/mobile-first-indexing). This means that Google considers the mobile version of a site before its desktop counterpart while giving it a rank.
Right now, more than half of internet users use a mobile phone (https://www.oberlo.com/blog/internet-statistics). Thus, if you want to improve your website usability, you need to optimize it for mobile phones. The best way to do it is by bettering your speed.
Here are the things that you can do to optimize the page speed of your website.
Upgrade Your Hosting
Your website will not be fast until you use a fast hosting. This includes choosing the right web hosting service provider and, at the same time, using the correct type of hosting.
These are the different types of hosting available for you:
Shared hosting is the slowest hosting, only suited for personal and test websites or blogs where there aren’t a lot of resources. In this hosting, a single server houses several sites, which could be a hundred or even a thousand. Similar to how a computer becomes slow when we run multiple programs at once, the server can’t provide a lot of speed to all the websites at once.
Most SMEs and eCommerce sites should go for VPS servers. They are fast and don’t cost as much as dedicated ones. In a VPS server, a computer is separated into virtual private machines with their own resources meaning that even if sites don’t get the entire computer for them, they will get exclusive access to the resources.
Cloud VPS Server
The difference between VPS and a cloud VPS server is that in the latter, instead of separating a computer into multiple virtual machines, we bring a number of server computers together at once. The website can dynamically take resources from all of them whenever it needs it.
A dedicated server is the fastest server. In this, a website gets exclusive access to a server computer. Well, as you need to rent a device, it is more expensive than the other options.
We recommend you to get at least a VPS or a cloud VPS server if you have a website with a significant or growing traffic.
Optimize Your Media Files
You need to do website speed optimization for both images and videos.
See this report from HTTP Archive(https://httparchive.org/reports/state-of-the-web?start=latest). On average, images occupy 66% of a website’s weight. The more pictures on your website, the more time it will take to load.
Here are the things you can do to optimize your images.
- First, make sure that the image file type is JPG. Other extensions generally have more size than JPG.
- Always put the right size of images. It will just add up space if you are unnecessarily using larger dimensions. For example, a Facebook Feature image for every web page is 1200×630. Using images higher than that dimension will have no use and will only take up more storage.
- Compress your Images. Compression means decreasing the photo size, also affecting the quality. You need to find a fine line between them.
- Delete some images if they repeat. Also, try your best to use fewer images.
Similar to images, you need to optimize your videos. Actually, if your site has videos, it is more important than images because videos are larger than photos and take up more loading time. Here are the website speed optimization techniques for videos:
- Use compressed mp4 files, as they generally take less space than other extensions.
- Remove (not only mute, remove!) audio from the video before uploading if you don’t really need it.
- Take a look at most of your visitor’s devices. You don’t need higher dimensions if most of your visitors are using mobile phones.
- Reduce video length.
Also, here is a trick- instead of uploading a video on your website, you can do it on other platforms like Youtube or Vimeo, and then embed it on the site.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A CDN is a set of servers distributed to various geographical locations. This means instead of a single server; you use more than one server.
This has two benefits:
- First, when you have a lot of traffic, all your users will get resources easily and quickly when multiple servers share them at once.
- Second, people located in different parts of the world will get a faster browsing experience as they can download resources from the nearest server.
So, you can run an analytics test and distribute servers across the world, preferably in places where you get the most traffic.
Use a Simple Web Design
Simple always looks better. At the same time, it loads faster.
When you have a lot of design elements on your site, browsers will need more resources. This will add on to the extra seconds people need to spend in the front of their screen. Also, more design elements could actually confuse people, so they exit the website; thus, increasing the bounce rate.
Some other tricks you can apply are:
- Use CSS over images whenever possible.
- Reduce redirects.
Enable Website Caching
Website caching means letting browsers store some resources from your site when they open it once. This means the web browsers will not have to load those resources again when accessing your website. This, indeed, will improve your page response time.
Again, website caching is another reason why you should use a VPS server rather than a shared one. You see, caching is generally not available on a shared server.
You can set up caching in your server within the general settings. If you can’t, you can call your hosting provider and tell them you want to enable caching. On the other hand, if you are using WordPress, there are some plugins, including W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, WP Rocket, Comet Cache, etc.
Compress Your Website with GZip
With website speed being more and more significant to the user experience, you need to compress the size of your site as much as you can. The best approach for this is GZIP compression.
This is how it works. When a browser wants to access a website, GZip compresses it so that the browser can download the compressed resources. It then uncompressed the website before presenting it to the user.
GZIP compression, thus, does two things; minimize HTTP requests and reduces the server response time. Again, there are various plugins that let GZip compression.
Remove Plugins that you Don’t Need
Never stack unnecessary plugins on your website. This only increases the strain on your database.
With more plugins, browsers have more resources to load. Not only will this extend the time, but it may also cause the website to crash.
It is not only about the number of plugins, but also their type and quality. Plugins with a lot of scripts and styles can affect the page load speed, for example, social sharing plugins.
Never forget to check user reviews regarding speed before installing a plugin on your site.
Fix Broken Links
At first glance, broken links don’t seem to relate to the website speed. Anyway, the idea is similar to the website page speed.
At the starting of this article, we did say that Google ranks brain accesses how much time a user spends on a website and how many people leave a website without opening a second page.
A 404 error will negatively affect both of these factors, as people will immediately leave the page after opening. Furthermore, the bounce rate will increase.
For small websites, you can manually check for broken links. Anyway, if you have a lot of backlinks, we recommend you use a plugin or a tool (preferable a third-party tool rather than a plugin) to regularly check if all your links are working fit and fine.
Use Prefetching Techniques
Using perfecting techniques for website speed optimization also has significant results.
Prefetching means browsers loading content before the user opens it. And whenever a user actually opens the content, it will take less time. Yes, it is a guessing game- the browser loads content depending on people’s general behavior.
DNS Prefetching: DNS prefetching means converting the domain name into an IP Address before a user tries to open a link. Thus, it reduces the domain lookup time.
Prerendering: The main difference between prefetching and pre-rendering is that in prefetching, the browser only loads some content of the website in advance. But in prerendering, the browser opens an entire page in a separate tab, and when a user opens the page, the tab is replaced with the preloaded tab.
Website Speed optimization is one of the most important things to do on a website as it affects its conversion rate, usability, and visibility on the Search Engine Results. You can do various things to improve your site speed, but the idea is the same. You make the design as simple as possible, and eliminate the elements that you don’t need.
You can learn more about website speed optimization by giving us a call. Also, you can contact us if you are looking for web maintenance services.