The loading speed of your website directly impacts every visitors' opinion and more importantly, dictates whether they want to spend money on your site or ever visit it again. Poor web performance can make them think your site is not worth utilizing, and can hurt your ad revenue or product sales.
But before we move onto the actual tips and techniques, here is a small lesson on just what page speed is and why it can ruin your site.
Page speed is the amount of time it takes for your web browser to fetch a particular site's content from a website hosting server. This starts when a user clicks a link or types in the site address into their search bar.
Page load speed then comes into play--and it's very important. The loading time is what can make or break your site. A whopping 25 percent of visitors only wait four seconds for a site to load before exiting out and abandoning ship.
But that's not all. If you've noticed your site is not ranking highly on search engines, your page loading speed is probably affecting it. Google's algorithms actively throttle your ranking if your page loads slowly.
However, by putting the following tips into practice, even those with little-to-no experience can improve site performance, without needing to hire an expensive programmer.
This is probably the most overlooked cause of poor loading times. Many owners opt for shared hosting, which does exactly that. Your site is just one of thousands that are hosted on just one server stack. You might save money this way, but it comes at the cost of innumerable visitors.
Think of your site as an investment, and look into upgrading to premium dedicated hosting. Your site will have its own server with around the clock support.
As for results, Search Engine Journal says that their page load speeds increased 62 percent after switching to private hosting. With shared hosting, their site took almost 8 seconds to fully load, but upon switching, that when down to just over 2 seconds.
Many make the mistake of uploading their images to their site and then using a tool or plugin to alter the photo to its desired dimensions. This is bad. Every time the site loads, it is forced to resize the image, which naturally increases the loading time. To cut down on this use one of the many programs out there, like:
But to provide an even bigger boost to speed, compress the images as well. Compression reduces the size of the file while maintaining the quality of the original.
It's best to format images as either JPEGs or PNGs. JPEGs are best for photographs, while PNGs are better for crisp lines, transparency and small images with few colors.
Just how much can compressing all of your site images help your loading speed? Blogger Arl Well utilized a photo compressor program to slim his images down from 22 megabytes to 300 kilobytes, taking his site's speed from 6.1 seconds to 1.8 seconds to load, a 70 percent reduction.
Plugins can quickly destroy a site's speed, especially if the owner is a beginner, since many tend to go overboard. Although they are very handy, they slow your site down to a snail's crawl, especially when there are a multitude of them installed.
The trick here is to only have the ones you absolutely need on your website. Comb through the list, and deactivate them, one at a time.
Between each deactivation, utilize GT Metrix to evaluate your site's speed. This way you can tell how badly each plugin was throttling your site.
Redirects are a useful way of moving an existing page without breaking that page if it was bookmarked by your existing user. However, all the links that point to that page should be updated. Every time your user gets redirected, their browser must contact your server, wait for the response, then contact your server again to load the page from its new location.
To make matters worse, sometimes a user might have to go through multiple redirects before they are finally allowed to download the page they want to see.
You can use Screaming Frog's SEO Spider to crawl your site and check for any redirects, but the tool must be downloaded unfortunately. Alternatively, you can paste a list of pages into httpstatus.io to check if they have any redirects.
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is essentially a family of servers located all over the globe. They allow visitors to access your site more swiftly by connecting them to the nearest server. Without a CDN, users access your site at the home server, and this can lead to slow loading times if your page has to travel across the globe.
Cloudflare is an excellent CDN, and best of all has a free tier which provides more than enough for a small site as well as a free SSL certificate for encrypting your site. It also currently has the best performance according to CDNPerf.
By implementing a CDN, website owner Abu Thahir saw his loading time cut on his Wordpress-built site in half, going from 18 seconds to 9.5 seconds, simply using of a CDN.
This one is a bit of a no-brainer. Videos will bog down your site like crazy, eating up so much bandwidth that navigating your site might become an impossible task. If you host your own videos, it only takes a few of your users to be watching videos to slow down your site for everyone else.
Luckily, there is a solution, and it's free. Upload any videos to a hosting site, such as:
Once uploaded, you can embed the video into the desired place. These sites allow users to upload high-definition videos for free. High definition videos are colossal files by nature, and uploading directly to your site, especially if the hosting is not dedicated, would mean nothing but trouble.
Just because your theme is gorgeous, does not mean it's efficient. You may have a hard time letting go, but an archaic theme with primitive coding will obliterate any digital marketing efforts and sentence your site to the bowels of Google.
Consider opting for a premium theme. Premium themes have more thought and effort put into optimization.
Although these are all for Wordpress, those with no coding experience should be using this program anyway, as it takes care of many aspects of web building that would pose a problem for beginners.
A sprite program takes all your images and condenses them into just one image for the web browser to download. This means that it drastically cuts down on the number of server requests, which in turn decreases load times. Using CSS sprites is best if you have lots of small images on your page
Some free sprite programs are:
We found CSS Sprite Generator to be the easiest to use. Just upload all the small images you have on a page, download the new image to your images folder, paste the CSS code into your CSS file, then use one of the lines from the HTML tab to insert the correct part of the new sprite into your page. One tiny bit of code you might need to change here - in the CSS code, you might need to change the path to the new sprite image to match where you put it on your website.
Thanks to programs like these, there's no need to spend countless hours fiddling in Photoshop, let alone hire someone to do the job! Simply upload the desired images, and it'll all be taken care of for you.
If most of your revenue comes from ads, this is one piece of advice you probably do not want to hear, but it's true. Too many advertisements not only slow your loading times to a snail's pace, but it can also cast a bad impression on your visitors because no one likes having to navigate through clutter.
Try to cut down ad usage to no more than five per page. Preferably, one or two is the ideal number for good impressions, but many site owners rely heavily on the ad revenue, and can't afford to remove too many ads. If you fall into this category, consider only using Google Adsense. Their ads are very efficient, and will save you a lot of hassle.
If you utilize other ad networks, however, then closely monitor your loading times by running a speed test with said network's advertisement on your page, and then remove the ad and run a second speed test. If that network's ads are severely hampering your site, then consider dropping them for another network.
Consider the following study carried out by Google, where they discovered that a website that loaded in five seconds made twice as much in advertising revenue as one that loaded in 19 seconds. This means that despite having to cut down on ads, faster websites attract more visits, and therefore make more revenue.
By putting these tips to good use, you can reduce loading times and increase your bottom line with very little coding experience, ensuring your website runs as smoothly as possible.
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