Website Speed: How to Improve It and Why It Matters
When browsing the internet, you’ve probably come across a website or two where you’ve had to wait a few seconds for it to load the page. Moments later, you got bored of waiting and clicked the back button before even getting to view the content you were hoping to see. We’ve all been there! With this go go go society…
While it is definitely inconvenient, there are bigger issues at play here. Namely, if this is happening to other websites, is it happening when people visit my website too?
Why is website speed important?
Are you still paying attention? The average attention span is about eight seconds and it’s only getting shorter!
This is important to note because the average load time for most websites is about eight seconds as well.
If your website visitors are waiting around for pages to load in order to find what they are looking for, they’re just going to leave. Google knows this and, as it’s always trying to improve the user’s experience, it takes website speed into consideration when ranking pages in search results.
So now you’re not only losing potential customers who have landed on your site, but also potential customers who will never find you because you aren’t showing up in the Google search results!
Mobile vs. Desktop Website Speed
When you check your website speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights, you’ll find a tab for your mobile page speed and a separate tab for your desktop page speed.
In most cases, we find that desktop website speeds rank at least twice as well as mobile websites. While this is common, it is not something you should throw in the towel on…
According to the Pew Research Center, American smartphone usage has increased from 35% in 2011 to 77% in 2018.
If you want to get a sense of the type of devices that your own website visitors are using, check out the audience section within your Google Analytics account. You’ll likely find that a majority of them are visiting your site on a mobile device.
If that’s the case (which I bet it is), then you’ll probably also find that those mobile visitors are leaving quicker than the desktop users because your web pages are taking too long to load!
As mentioned in the last section, website speed has a big impact on your site’s rank in Google search. Google’s algorithm prioritizes mobile pages over desktop when determining where to rank them. So you can imagine that the vast difference in your desktop and mobile website speeds you’ll find in the PageSpeed Insights not only impacts the user experience but also pushes you further down in the search results.
Speeding Up Your Website
The best practice for website speed is to load in under three seconds. To make this happen, here are 6 tips to help you speed up your website…
Compress your images
One of the most common factors impacting website speed is the size of images and videos. Why? Because large images and video files take significantly longer to load.
To keep the beautiful imagery you’ve added to your website from dragging down the speed, use an image compression website. One of my favorites is Compress JPEG.
Sometimes, you create content for your website that over time becomes outdated, irrelevant, or just no longer necessary to the purpose of your website. It’s a good idea to delete that content, but when you do so, make sure that any pages you delete or URLs you change are redirected to a new, more applicable URL. This also helps to avoid decreases in traffic because people aren’t leaving your site when it doesn’t turn up the content that they’re searching for. If the redirects that you have created get too clunky – redirecting one URL to another to another, for example – then you’ll increase the time it takes for the end URL to load.
Keeping your site’s redirects organized can add a tremendous boost to your website’s speed.
Have you ever visited a website and then revisited the same site a few days later, noticing that the website loads much faster the second time around? This happens because the data on the web pages that you previously visited was stored or “cached” within your web browser.
The primary reason for caching is to allow for faster retrieval of data without requiring the system to retrieve all of the data for the first time. If your website is built on WordPress, which a majority of the websites on the internet are, then you can install one of these plugins to activate caching on your own site.
Optimize your plugins
WordPress websites use plugins to allow for certain features (like browser caching mentioned previously). While plugins provide your website with some awesome capabilities, having outdated or unused plugins can – you guessed it – lead to a slow website.
Do a scan of the plugins that are installed on your site and remove those that are unused, then click “update” on any that have newer versions.
Switch hosting providers
Most people will choose the least expensive hosting option, but this actually can lead to significant losses in revenue when it leads to fewer conversions on the site due to downtime and slow load times. As you increase your web traffic, don’t skimp on your hosting provider!
Many companies are switching from physical servers to cloud hosting providers and incurring amazing improvements in their website speed.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a framework developed by Google & Twitter that allows web developers to build improved mobile experiences through simplified HTML and CSS rules.
In recent months, sites that have enabled AMP are seeing significant improvements in organic search traffic and engagement.
Hopefully today I have imparted on you the importance of always working to improve your website speed. And while maybe I’ve made my point and impressed that upon you, you might be a bit overwhelmed by where to start, what to do first, what’s going to improve your website speed most significantly, and how?
All valid questions which is why we’re here to help. You see, website design and speed are our specialties because we understand how essential it is for each and every one of our clients (existing and prospective…) to have a website that offers a seamless user experience and converts users to customers. If that’s your goal too, we may just be a great fit for each other. Give us a call! (757) 333-3021