Having a fast site is more important now than ever. People have become so used to high internet speeds and fast computers that they will balk at anything that takes a long time to load. Give them a website that takes longer than three seconds to load and 40% will simply just abandon the page. That is almost half of your visitors gone! If you find that you have a high bounce rate, even after ensuring that the content on your page is relevant to your target keywords, perhaps it is time to look at speeding up your site.
Why speed matters
Your site speed can wreak havoc not just on your bounce rate, but your customer retention and search engine ranking too. According to a study by Google the bounce rate probability for a website increases by 123% over a 10 second load time period. This is an eyewatering number! The problems then escalate from there. If Google’s search algorithm notices a high bounce rate on your site they may begin to think that it is not relevant to the keywords that it is ranking for. Google may then decide to de-rank the page throwing all your SEO content optimisation out of the window. It has become extremely important to have a look at your website’s loading performance and start taking steps to optimise it.
How to tell if my website is slow
Fortunately, you are not left on your own, forced to run around experimenting on different devices to check speed. There are plenty of great applications or plugins that can help tell you when your site is slow, and what is slowing it down.
Google offers a fantastic free tool that allows you to test your page speed. Simply put your URL into the text box and click analyse. Lighthouse, an open-source automated web analysis tool, will then load your page, analysing the speed of each element on the page. Once your site has been analysed PageSpeed Insights will provide you a score out of 100. If you have a score of 90-100 your site is in the top 10% fastest loading websites, meaning that your site loaded in under one second. If you have a score between 50 and 89 you have an average site load time, generally between 1 and 2.5 seconds. While a score of 49 and bellow means that your site is in the bottom 50% of site speed, taking over 2.5 seconds to load. If you have a score below 50 you need to look into some website optimisation.
How Can I Speed My Website Up?
Fortunately speeding up your website can be super simple. You could just have some weighty components that take a lot of bandwidth to download, items like uncompressed videos or big images could do this. It could be more complex of a problem, however. Perhaps you may need to look at changing your website hosting service. Before that, here are 10 ways that you can speed up your website:
1. Optimise Images
The first element of your site that you should look at is your images. If you have large uncompressed images your website it will take longer to load. To fix this, replace your images with alternatives that are at a lower resolution or are better compressed.
2. Look at your plugins
Sometimes the biggest drag to website speed are the plugins you have put into your site. While you may need a lot of these for features you can still take a deep dive into each to help find those that are a draw on your website’s speed. You can do this by checking for redundant plugins. Did you see a cool plugin with some amazing features, load it into your site, then never actually use it? Perhaps removing it is a good step towards increasing your speed. If you have no redundant plugins then look for overlapping features in the plugins you are using. A lot of plugins offer similar features allowing you to eliminate a few that overlap.
3. Minimise HTTP requests
A HTTP request happens when a users browser sends a request for a file from your website in order to display its content. According to Yahoo 80% of a page’s load time is spent downloading different parts of the page. To find out how many HTTP requests your site makes try using Google Chrome’s developer tools. Right click on the page that you want to analyse, click inspect, then click the network tab. From there you can see each file that your users browser will need to download. Look through this list and see if anything can be eliminated.
To understand what asynchronous loading is we first need to look at synchronous loading. By default your webpage will use synchronous loading, meaning that every element on the page will load one at a time in the order that they appear. Meanwhile, Asynchronous loading will attempt to load all of the elements on the page at the same time. This will prevent any delay in page load. You should try turning this on to see if it will increase your website’s speed.
5. Compress your content
Images aren’t the only content on your page that could be slowing down its load time. Try updating the compression used on your video to a modern compression standard. Or perhaps it is your text that is causing high load times. A great tool that you can use to compress your content is Gzip. If your site is on Wordpress then the handy plugin WP Rocket supports Gzip. All you have to do is check the box next to ‘Enable HTTP (gzip) Compression’ and your load times should decrease.
6. Use a CDN
If your site is only on one server then this could be a major bottleneck. Whenever anyone visits your site they send a request to the server to download your site. So if you have high traffic with lots of requests to your one server then things could become quite congested. Think of it like a wide 6 lane highway going down suddenly to one lane, there would be chaos. By using a Content Delivery Network your website is spread out across multiple servers meaning that if traffic gets high there will be less of a bottleneck. As well as this users in other countries will have an easier time accessing your website with a CDN. Your website will be hosted on a server closer to the user meaning that there is less distance for the information to travel, increasing speeds and reducing latency.
7. Use external hosting sites for content
If you aren’t already try using external hosting sites for your content like Youtube or Pintrest. This is great for high quality content allowing you to upload longer, higher quality videos while reducing the space taken up on your server. By utilising these external platforms you are taking advantage of their large number of high speed servers, connected to high speed internet. All of this gives your user a great viewing experience for your videos even if there is high traffic to your site.
8. Prioritise above the fold content also known as Lazy Loading
Lazy loading means that only items in view will be loaded in. This is especially useful if you have a large amount of photos, say for a blog. As your user scrolls through the page the content will load up seamlessly still providing them with a similar experience as one without lazy loading. The big difference is in the speed. The site will load initially a lot faster than usual, allowing your user to jump into your content faster.
9. Reduce redirects
Having some redirects in your site is understandable. Sometimes you have moved content around and it is far easier to just redirect the user to fix those broken links. However, too many redirects can really slow down a page’s load time. Look at eliminating unnecessary redirects to speed up your site.
10. Check your hosting package
Sometimes you could just have a bad hosting package. While this is a last resort solution, you may have to look at moving to a faster service. Talk to your hosting provider and see if they can upgrade your speed, or move to a new hosting provider.
Website load times are incredibly important, not just to rank well but also to have happy customers. If you really want to increase conversions having a website that is smooth to navigate through, loads quickly, and is easy to purchase through makes the entire user experience better, increasing the likelihood of conversions. If you need assistance in optimising your website to both rank well in google and to increase conversions look for an experienced marketing agency, they could transform your business. Contact Link Pixel today!