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Is your website racing to the finish line or getting lapped by the competition?
In an age when consumers demand information NOW, your website’s loading speed makes a huge difference for your business and your revenue. Loading rates not only impact website performance, they also affect your site’s SEO, user experience, and your ability to attract new customers.
This impact is significant on slower-running sites. In fact, when your page load time increases from one to just three seconds, prospects are 32% more likely to leave your site. When it goes from one to five seconds, that number shoots up to 90%. From one to ten seconds? Such a dramatic drop in load rate raises the bounce probability by nearly 125%!
The bottom line? Website speeds matter. And if your site begins to lag or struggles to get info to visitors fast enough, it can have real consequences for your brand online.
WHY IS PAGE SPEED SO IMPORTANT?
As I mentioned earlier, website and page speed has a significant impact on website performance and, by extension, user experience. So much so that visitors (potential buyers) aren’t likely to stick around long if a blog or service page takes more than a couple of seconds to load up. And the more people that leave your site, the fewer you’re likely to convert into paying customers.
What’s worse: those who do stay put probably won’t be back for a second visit. Nearly four out of five won’t return after a poor site experience.
But it’s not just onsite sales hurt by a slower page loading speed; your SEO efforts feel it too. For more than a decade, Google’s search algorithm has factored site speed into the site ranking equation. In other words, Google considers load rates and performance to determine where your pages rank for important industry keywords.
And if your PC and mobile pages aren’t delivering results fast, your site will likely get dinged and slip down the search ranking ladder. In the long run, this affects your ability to reach new customers and build brand awareness where you need it the most.
Slow page speeds affect everything from user experience and conversion rate to online visibility and long-term branding. With so much at stake, it’s crucial to know why your site’s running slow and what you can do to achieve a good page load time across your site.
WHY DO WEBSITES LOAD SLOWLY?
Below, I look at some relatively easy ways to address these issues and clear up the bottlenecks they cause for your site’s speed, performance, and ranking in search engines.
HOW DO I MAKE MY WEBSITE LOAD FASTER?
A slow site speed or page load time doesn’t have to weigh down your website (and your business) forever. When you know how to speed up website load rates, you can take control of your web pages and deliver the user experience your customers deserve.
USE A FREE PAGE TESTING TOOL TO CHECK LOADING SPEEDS
Speeding up your website starts by identifying which web pages are performing well and which are slowing things down. Fortunately, a number of free testing tools are available to identify problem areas and target pages that need attention now.
GOOGLE PAGESPEED INSIGHTS
PageSpeed Insights breaks down and scores page speed on both PC and mobile. It also analyzes page performance through the tool’s Core Web Vitals dashboard, providing pass/fail metrics in critical areas.
PINGDOM WEBSITE SPEED TEST
Pingdom’s free version offers comprehensive page speed testing on seven different servers around the world. By providing file request data across different locations, Pingdom’s sprawling test allows you to analyze page load time performance and user experience across various international markets.
DOTCOM-MONITOR WEBSITE SPEED TEST
The Dotcom-Monitor Website Speed Test is a little more expansive than Pingdom, allowing you to test web page speed in 25 locations at once. Dotcom-Monitor also provides data for both a first and second visit to the page you’re testing.
Catchpoint’s WebPageTest provides a user-friendly interface for testing page load time at dozens of global locations at once. WebPageTest also allows you to compare page speed on different pages side-by-side. This feature allows you to identify common issues and map out a plan of attack.
The SpeedLab testing tool from BrowserStack delivers page load time data on multiple devices and browsers. This makes it unique among other tools now on the market. To optimize accuracy, SpeedLab measures page speeds through BrowserStack’s Real Device Cloud function.
Other no-cost testing options include GTmetrix, Uptrends Free Website Speed Test, Sematext, LoadNinja, and Lighthouse’s open-source page performance audit tool, among many others. With a few notable exceptions (i.e., PageSpeed Insights), most tools also have a paid version with more advanced features.
WEBSITE DOWNTIME MONITORING
Website downtime issues can also be extremely detrimental for user experience and create a serious headache for business owners. When unexpected downtime and 404 errors hit your site, bounce rates go skyward, hurting UX, conversions and your bottom line.
Luckily, downtime monitoring tools like Uptime can help pinpoint downtime problems fast, allowing you to address issues before they become a sales-killing nightmare.
CONSIDER A CONTENT DELIVERY NETWORK (CDN)
One of the best ways to speed up your website? Host your content and distribute it to users through a Content Delivery Network. CDNs (also known as Points of Presence, or POPs) consist of widely dispersed networks of servers that drastically reduce the distance between your website files and your users.
This process gets that info to users more quickly and spreads out the bandwidth burden across multiple server locations. By extension, this reduces bandwidth and traffic load for any dedicated server you currently rely on, providing a potentially major boost in server speed and brand performance.
Business owners have a number of options when it comes to CDNs. These include such widely-known brands as Akamai, Cloudflare, and Microsoft Azure. Learn how some of the more popular CDN tools stack up here.
MINIFY YOUR CODE
Essentially, CSS and JS files minification removes a potentially sizable obstacle standing between your users and a speedy and satisfying UX.
Unbloating your HTML code is a good start. Unnecessary HTML piles onto the volume of information sent to your users, adding precious milliseconds or even entire seconds to the transfer. If you discover 5,000, 6,000, or more lines of HTML before any piece of page content, it’s probably time to cut the fat and do some streamlining.
Whether you run a WordPress site, HubSpot site, or site on another website builder, code and file minification provides a good route for lowering site load time and improving customer connections.
REDUCE HTTP REQUESTS
Each webpage is comprised of a wide range of elements and files. And once a user connects to one of your pages, each of these elements gets immediately pinged by the visitor’s browser.
These pings are known as HTTP requests, and the more elements/files an individual page has, the more HTTP requests will be sent to your server, slowing down page loads in the process.
Ridding your pages of unnecessary files can reduce these requests and ramp up page load speed.
Enabling browser caching is one way to minimize HTTP requests and speed up an otherwise overtaxed web server. When you enable browser caching, you can now store various page files and elements directly onto the user’s hard drive, decreasing the requests their browser sends in the future.
Another way to reduce the HTTP pileup is by deleting unnecessary images, elements, and other files from each slow-running website page. A quick sweep of landing pages and old blogs is often all that’s needed to root out outdated images, videos, and graphics adding milliseconds or more to each new load time.
MANAGE YOUR IMAGES
Proper image management can be a powerful way to speed up pages and improve user visits. With a few tweaks to how you size and format photos and graphics, you can give your WordPress site the jolt of speed that puts your performance and user experience over the top.
Good image management begins by deleting unnecessary JPEGs, PNGs, and other files from your media library. Over time, your website’s media storage can fill up with oversized, outdated, and unused images. Ultimately, these files chew up a big part of your site speed bandwidth.
Clearing out these old images can sometimes deliver an instant boost to page load times across your site.
Once you refresh your media library, it’s time to optimize images across your site. This means not only reducing those large images slowing site speeds to a crawl, but doing so without sacrificing image quality or appeal.
Fortunately, there are many image compression and image optimization plugins out there to help automatically resize every image file while maintaining photo integrity.
ENABLE LAZY LOADING
Lazy loading is the perfect solution for pages with an abundance of media files, images, or graphics that generally take a long time to load. Enabling lazy loading on your WordPress website allows you to prioritize the content viewers see first when visiting the page. This ensures that above-the-fold content loads faster than other page elements that need a little more time.
Lazy load images technology offers a fast and easy workaround that can significantly lower the delays experienced when loading an entire page.
Installing and activating a simple plugin makes it possible to lazy load those file-heavy blogs in no time and (for the most part) reduce the load time slog caused by large files and feature-laden posts.
An effective lazy load tool may be the right remedy for popular but slow loading pages that could use a quick boost in performance. Some of the more popular lazy load plugins for speeding up slow loading pages include WP Rocket, Smush, Optimole, BJ Lazy Load, and Speed Up.
SWITCH TO A FASTER DNS PROVIDER
A Domain Name System (DNS) provider translates website URLs into actual locations. Once a user enters your URL into a browser, the DNS turns that URL into an actual web address. The browser then routes this address to your customer.
If your DNS is slow, it takes longer for browsers to find your site. This extra time ultimately adds to your page loading speed, resulting in more lost users with each new second.
The good news? There are many DNS providers out there, and switching to a faster DNS can alleviate this issue and end this extra lag time relatively quickly.
There are many DNS providers to choose from, including Verizon, Microsoft Azure, GoDaddy, Cloudflare, Google Public DNS, Oracle, Akamai, Infoblox NIOS, and many more.
MINIMIZE ONSITE REDIRECTS
Certain types of page redirects, like the 301, offer an effective way to capitalize on an old page’s SEO value. Still, every redirect adds yet another step to the page load process. Redirects take the user from one file to another while ultimately slowing down page and server response time.
Because of that, it’s best to reduce and avoid URL redirects wherever you can.
Scanning your site regularly can help you identify old page redirects and remove those no longer serving a critical purpose. If you’re tech-savvy, you can locate unwanted and delete redirects by combing through your site’s htaccess file.
You can also minimize unnecessary redirects by avoiding linking to pages with redirects already on them.
A fast website loading speed reduces inconvenience and provides the foundation for a positive user experience. It’s also key to maximizing your site’s visibility in search and winning new customers across the web.
I hope these page speed best practices help you fix common load time issues and build stronger connections with customers. If you need help with other areas of your brand or online presence, our ORM support team is here to help.