How To Make Your Website Faster (And Why It’s Important)

Website Performance is Important to Both Search Engines and Visitors

I think by now we all have heard of the importance of page load time and site speed. It’s true, the studies show websites with higher than 3-4 second load times lose visitors and that Google gives preference to sites that load faster.

You could be giving your competitor a real advantage with every extra second it takes for your site to load. Face it, your visitors aren’t patient.

Luckily, there are ways to make your website faster. After all, why let traffic slip away from you when optimizing your site could increase your traffic?

Why It Matters

Page speed is one of the many factors Google uses to rank a site. While it’s not the most important, it can affect other factors. For instance, a high bounce rate could drop your site to page two or further in search results if visitors are constantly leaving your site after just a few seconds.

For businesses, page loading speeds are even more important. A single second can cost you as much as 7% of sales. Another study found that 51% of online consumers will avoid making a purchase if a site is too slow. Every millisecond slower your site is than the competition is more visitors you’re losing. This is why speed matters.

Spring Clean Everything

Just like your home, your website needs regular spring cleaning to be faster. Excess code, improper code formatting, old plugins, and more all contribute to your overall page size. Getting rid of everything you don’t need reduces file sizes so your site loads faster.

Reduce Image Sizes

Large images that aren’t optimized for the web kill page loading times. Many homepages and blog posts are full of images. You might think larger file sizes equal higher quality images. You have to find a balance. Using image compression tools is one way to reduce each image’s size.

Don’t rely on compression alone. Only upload images with small file sizes that still look good on your site. If a 20 KB image looks the same as a 2 MB one, always go with the 20 KB image. For photos, opt for JPEG images. For your icons and images that have less than 16 colors, PNG works well.

Also, consider using “NextGen” image formats like WebP which provide mostly lossless compression and are now supported by major browsers. Thee are many services and plugins out there that can take care of this conversion for you.

Compress And Cache

Server-level compression helps reduce the file size of resources such as HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. Google recommends using Gzip to compress any files that are over 150 bytes. Talk to your hosting company and make sure Gzip is enabled on your server.

Caching is yet another way to reduce page loading times. The first time a visitor views your page, all static elements are stored in the visitor’s browser. The next time they visit, the cached elements are loaded faster because they’re stored on the visitor’s local machine. This helps reduce the number of requests to your server and gives the visitor a better experience.

Page caching can also greatly increase performance. There are many WordPress plugins, for example, that can take care of this and there are services like Sucuri and Cloudflare that take this even further. Basically, rather than asking the server to run all the underlying code each and every time a page is requested, a static copy is held and that is delivered instead.

Use a CDN

A Content Delivery Network moves static files geographically closer to your users. So instead of your server delivering static assets like images, scripts, and documents the CDN does this by keeping copies of these files all over the world and delivering them to the user from a node closest to them. Not only does this speed up delivery but it can greatly reduce the load on your server since these files are no longer regularly requested from the main server.

Check Your Host

Sometimes it’s not your site that’s the problem. It could be your host. If they have overloaded servers, your own site’s performance could suffer. If the host doesn’t offer managed hosting, you could also be missing out on speed-boosting performance updates and maintenance.