Why Website Speed Matters and 5 Ways to Increase It

Website speed

Have you ever given up on a slow-loading webpage, tapping the back button to go find the information you were looking for elsewhere? Of course, you have; everyone has at one point or another. After all, 25% of us will abandon a page if it hasn’t loaded in four seconds (and expectations are only rising as time goes on).

But that’s not the only reason that website speed matters. Google’s rankings take into account your site’s performance and speed. Slow speeds might hurt your website’s rankings even if your content is excellent.

In short, how fast your website loads will impact the likelihood that visitors find your website. Once they’ve found your website, your site’s performance impacts whether they stay and look at your content. Now let’s look at ways you can improve your website’s performance.

1. Use Google’s PageSpeed Tools

Google’s PageSpeed tools are a great place to start when it comes to improving your site’s performance.

You can analyze your website with PageSpeed to get an overall score, which is a number indicating how well Google thinks your site is performing — the higher your score, the faster (and better) your website is doing.

All you have to do is paste your website’s URL into Page Speed Insights and click “analyze.” In a few seconds, you’ll get data on how long your site takes to load, as well as suggestions on what you can do to improve it’s speed, such as reducing your image file sizes, removing unused CSS code, or minifying JavaScript.

Google also offers open-source PageSpeed Modules, which are available to users working with Apache or Nginx servers. These modules, when installed, will rewrite and optimize the resources that you use for your website, including combining and minifying CSS and JavaScript files, deferring the loading of select files, and optimizing your images.

2. Optimize Your Website’s Resources

Using fewer files and smaller file sizes helps. There are several things you can do to accomplish this:

  • Minify your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files: Minification is the process of removing anything that isn’t necessary for the functioning of your website from your files, such as white space (including line breaks) and code comments. These things make files easier to read for software developers, but just slow down machines.
  • Optimize your images: First, make sure that you’re using the best format type for your images (e.g., JPGs for photos, PNGs for designs). Compress your images, ideally using lossless techniques that reduce your file size while maintaining visual fidelity (at least to the human eye). Make sure that your image sizes are appropriate — resize the images so that they’re not massive.
  • Delay rendering: A small amount of code can be added to your site to delay the rendering of resources that aren’t needed on first load. For example, content that’s “above-the-fold” should be prioritized above what’s in the footer. Furthermore, make sure that anything that’s render-blocking (such as JavaScript files) is delayed.

3. Cache, Cache, Cache Your Website

Caching is a big factor in speeding up your page load speeds. There are two things to do when it comes to caching.

First, get and use a CDN or content delivery network. CDNs are networks of servers that store copies of your website. Then, when someone requests your website, it’s delivered to them using the server that’s closest to them. This reduces the distance the packets have to travel before getting to the user.

Second, set caching in the HTTP headers that accompany files from your web server so that users’ browsers can cache some (if not all) of your website. Though this isn’t overly helpful for a users’ first visit, it can be a boon on subsequent visits when they don’t have to wait as long for your website to load

4. Make Sure that Your Website is Mobile-Friendly

Mobile users tend to be on networks that are slower than those used by PCs and laptops. So it’s critical that your site can load quickly in less-ideal circumstances. Mobile versions of sites should be designed to require less bandwidth that their large-screen counterparts.

5. Choose a Good Web Hosting Provider

You can do everything right in terms of optimizing your website, but if your web hosting provider acts as a bottleneck, you may still see slow website loading times.

Be sure that you’ve chosen a hosting plan that suits your needs. The budget-friendly, low-cost options may seem appealing, but they can come with limitations that might slow down your site (especially if you see high levels of traffic or if your webpages are resource-heavy).

Also, make sure that your host is a solid provider of fast services. Not all companies are created equal, and some companies provide their customers with faster servers, even when holding everything else equal. It can be difficult to tell which hosts are which, but customer reviews can be useful during the purchase process.

Wrapping Up

Your website’s speed matters, both in terms of gaining and keeping visitors, so you’ll want to make sure that your pages load as quickly as possible. Fortunately, improving your website performance isn’t super difficult, and in this article, we covered some quick wins that will help your website.

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