In 2019, your website’s speed remains one of the most crucial characteristics you must have a handle on to be found on the internet. Your website could have a sleek design and robust functionality, but if it is slow, people are going to leave. Even intuitively it makes sense. Just remember that one time you were browsing for something important and clicked on one of Google’s many results. But instead of loading immediately it took more than three seconds for the landing page to load. Now, suppose the load time is more than 5 seconds, what are you going to do then? Most of us are simply closing the tab right away.
Statistics seem to back this up as well. According to widely cited 2017 Google’s page load time study, there is a direct correlation between page load time and the probability of visitors bouncing. In layman’s terms, “a bounce” – or as it is more frequently called bounce rate – is the percentage of visitors who enter the website and immediately leave without checking any other pages. So the lower the bounce rate the better. In this context, what aforementioned Google study uncovered was that the longer the page loads the higher bounce percentage is:
Additionally, in our latest article about SEO developer, we mention how ranking high on Google can significantly contribute to your bottom line. In light of this information, it is important to know that loading speed by the Google team’s own admission is one of the ranking factors. Therefore, if you want to get anywhere close to Google’s first-page rankings your website ought to be lighting fast. Furthermore, not only does loading speed affect direct rankings, but it is also critical when it comes to conversions too. Cloudflare has found that a decrease in page load time of a few milliseconds increases conversions, just to mention a few examples:
- Mobify found that decreasing their homepage’s load time by 100 milliseconds resulted in a 1.11% uptick in session-based conversion
- Retailer AutoAnything experienced a 12-13% increase in sales after cutting page load time in half
- Walmart discovered that improving page load time by one second increased conversions by 2%
With all of this in mind, you must be wondering – “What can I do to improve my website’s speed?”. There are numerous tweaks you can do with various degrees of complexity to boost your speed. But here are three simple, fundamental things you could implement to see immediate results.
Figuring out an appropriate hosting plan for your website is one of the best ways for you to increase your website’s loading speed. You rely heavily on your hosting company for speed, which means it is in your best interest to select one carefully. It goes without saying, the hosting company is supposed to have stable, reliable hardware as a bare minimum. Apart from that, the first thing to consider is the location of your target audience. Ideally, you want to be as close to them as possible. Unfortunately, sometimes it is not possible in a practical sense. For instance, it could be that your target audience is spread across the globe.
In that case, switching to a content delivery network (CDN) could improve your load times significantly. The idea behind CDN is to solve the already mentioned proximity issue. It is achieved through spreading proxy servers and their data centers geographically closer to the end-user. Forming a kind of network around the globe(hence the name content delivery network). So say when a person in Hong Kong, China sends a request for a Latin America’s website, it is served by a nearby CDN server, as opposed to retrieving data from Western Hemisphere.
Another important consideration is the size of your company. It could be you began as a small, scrappy start-up, but then grew with time. It was okay to have a pretty basic hosting plan back then. Now, however, you have to consider something more appropriate for your size. Here are some options you might have in this scenario to improve your load speed:
Cloud-Based Web Hosting
Cloud-Based Web Hosting utilizes various grouped servers(clouds) making them work together to appear as one big server. In essence, you would be using the multiple resources of said clouds to host the entirety of your website. Certain advantages come with that.
You could pull more cloud resources from the hosting company when the need arises. Therefore, cloud-based web hosting is a perfect solution for firms that have to deal with sudden spikes in traffic. Going with this option will enable your website not to crash after unexpected traffic surges.
Virtual Private Server
Virtual Private Server or VPS for short is a slightly more advanced option. It is a single server divided into separate virtual machines with their own operating systems running custom configuration. This option is great if you need more power and stability to handle increasing traffic, yet you don’t want to overpay for a dedicated server.
Dedicated Web Server
With a dedicated server, you buy full control over one physical server from the hosting company. This is the most expensive option. On top of paying for the server itself, you would also need to hire a system administrator to handle all technical aspects of having it. In return, you get to not worry about the traffic period. This option should be considered by companies that grow at a rapid pace with ever-increasing volumes of daily traffic.
Choosing a suitable hosting plan is half the battle, but there are other avenues you could explore to improve your website’s loading speed.
Caching is all about providing faster loading speed for returning visitors. The principle behind it is rather simple. Whenever a visitor enters your website for the first time some of the data, with that person’s permission, of course, is stored on his/her’s hard drive in the so-called cache. Then upon this visitor’s return said data can be pulled out and then served faster. Resulting in improved load speed.
Is it worth going through all the trouble configuring both browser and server caching you ask? If you want to boost your website speed it is. According to YUI research caching can increase a website’s performance by up to 300%.
This one is a low hanging fruit. And should be self-explanatory. The smaller your files are the faster they load. Sometimes pages rich in content pages could go over 100KB in size. Which in turn leads to slower download time. If compressed, however, the situation is drastically improved.
First, you would need to perform a compression audit though. To get a sense of what files could be downsized without compromising the quality. It could be done with help from tools like – https://www.webpagetest.org or many others like it. Type in your website’s URL. The tool will perform an analysis showing your problem areas where compressing could be used to reduce the page size.
- Ensure consistency in CSS and HTML code with the following techniques:
- Consistent casing – mostly lowercase.
- Consistent quoting of HTML tag attributes.
- Specify HTML attributes in the same order.
- Specify CSS key-value pairs in the same order by alphabetizing them.
- Enable GZIP compression. GZIP finds similar strings and code instances, replaces them temporarily with shorter characters. Browsers decompress gzipped files, bringing them back to their original shape.
Following these tactics should help you reduce your page size thereby enhancing your loading speed considerably.
In our day and age, it is vital to have a lighting fast website to succeed. Now you know there are fundamental ways to improve your website’s speed. If you want to know more technical ways of doing it, feel free to contact us today, we would be delighted to hear from you and talk about how we can improve your website speed.