Just like slow service at a restaurant can result in a reluctantly-small tip for the server, website loading speed can make or break a great user experience for the visitors.
At Signa Marketing, we know first-hand that reducing page loading times can positively impact marketing and sales processes, - but what steps can you take to achieve faster pages and overall website improvement? Keep reading to learn practical tips on how to improve website loading speed.
Importance of Website Speed Optimization
Page load time is a web performance metric that evaluates the time necessary for a page to display on the user screen fully. Ideally, your website pages should take at most to load.- conducting regular website health checks and benchmark testing to keep this metric low can benefit your website in several ways:
- Usability. Website speed and load times determine how “usable” or responsive your website is, thus impacting the overall user experience and customer loyalty. Simply put, the better your website performs, the more satisfied the customer will be.
- Visibility. Website speed is one of the numerous factors the Google algorithm uses when ranking websites in organic search results. This means faster websites are more likely to deserve better rankings and, therefore, attract more visitors and conversions.
Conversion rates. In the digital marketing world, the term “conversion” describes an event when a user has done what you wanted them to do. For example, they subscribed to your newsletter, bought your product, or downloaded a guide. Conversion rates are an essential factor in the overall business success and a key driver behind any website improvement efforts.
10 Practical Tips on How to Improve Website Loading Speed
User expectations concerning loading speed continue increasing, and it is essential for any webmaster to keep their sites from falling behind. Follow these tips on how to improve website loading speed to keep your website up-to-date and your users more satisfied:
Choose a Better Hosting Solution
When deciding where to host your website, you have three general types of hosting solutions to choose from:
Shared hosting. Shared hosting is the most popular type of hosting worldwide, and not without reason: it is cheap, easy, and it will get your website up and running in no time. With this type of hosting, you will be sharing disk space, CPU, and RAM with other sites that use the same server, which can slow down your website’s performance.
Dedicated server. Hosting a website on your dedicated server will improve your website’s loading speed, but it can be pricey. If you are running your own physical server, you must pay server rent fees and hire a system administrator to maintain it.
VPS hosting. Virtual Private Server, or VPS hosting, uses multiple servers for content distribution. This means that you will be sharing the server with other users.- however, you will still have your own part of the virtual server, where your configurations won’t affect other clients.
Most of the time, VPS hosting provides faster website loading speeds than shared hosting, while being more affordable than running a dedicated server.
If your website has average traffic or you run an eCommerce website with periodic traffic spikes, VPS will likely be the most optimal solution for your website improvement needs.
Compress Your Website Images
Images can enhance the appearance of any website, but they are an absolute necessity for eCommerce sites.
Plentiful high-quality images and graphics on your product pages can improve user engagement and stimulate sales. However, on the flip side, large images can weigh down your website and delay its loading times; this is when you have to get to optimizing your website.
The solution to optimizing your website’s speed while keeping beautiful graphics is simple: you can compress website images.
Some image optimization techniques include enabling lazy loading, changing file formats, and compressing images with dedicated tools like Kraken, ImageOptim, or JPEGmini. Compressing your pictures should give you a noticeably better ranking in benchmark testing.
Enable Website Caching
Caching is one of the simplest and most effective tricks to learning how to improve desktop or mobile website speed.
When multiple users try to access the same website page, servers can get overloaded, taking more time to deliver the page to each user.
Caching enables you to save the current version of your website, thus minimizing the work needed for the server to display the pages to your visitors.
A cached web page doesn’t need to send database requests each time it is accessed.- instead, the saved version of the website is presented to the user until the site is updated.
The exact way to cache your website will depend on the platform your website was built with. For example, with WordPress, you can use dedicated plugins, such as W3 Super Cache or W3 Total Cache.
On the other hand, if you use a dedicated or VPS server, you can set up caching within your general settings. Unfortunately, the caching option isn’t typically available for shared servers.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A Content Delivery Network, or CDN, is a network of servers that can be used to improve website loading speed. CDN servers are distributed all around the globe, providing web content to end users based on their location.
Suppose you are hosting your site on a single server. In this case, all user requests will be directed to the same hardware, increasing the time required to process each task. If users are located physically far from the server, the page load times can improve even further.
So how will CDN speed up your website? To combat the issue and optimize the website, a Content Delivery Network will redirect all user requests to the nearest servers, leading to significantly faster load times. While this approach can be expensive, CDN is an efficient website speed optimization technique.
Of course, combing through each line of code is not practical - instead, you can use dedicated minification tools such as WillPeavy, or Grunt.
Reduce the Number of Redirects
Whenever a web page redirects to a different page, it extends the HTTP request and response process times. This means that having too many redirects on your website can negatively affect loading times and should be addressed as quickly as possible.
While having some redirects on your website is normal, eliminating all the unnecessary ones can significantly improve page loading times.
As such, avoiding adding redirects when building menus and internal links is a good practice. It is also recommended to make sure that your Top-Level Domain resolves with a maximum of one redirection.
If you need help identifying all the redirects already set up on your website, you can use special tools such as Screaming Frog or SiteAnalyzer. Next, check whether the identified redirects serve a critical purpose and remove all the unnecessary ones.
Detect 404 errors
A 404, or “Page Not Found,” error is a response a host provides to search engines or browsers that try to access a web page that no longer exists. Not only can 404 errors affect your website’s overall search engine performance, but they can consume server resources, thus slowing down your site’s loading speed.
Several error detection tools can help you identify and correct 404 errors associated with your website.
For example, you could use Google Search Console or Xenu’s Link Sleuth. If you are running a WordPress website, installing a particular plugin, such as 404 Redirected, can make your life easier.
Once you have identified all the 404 errors, you need to evaluate the amount of traffic they generate. If these broken links no longer bring any visits, you may leave them alone. However, if traffic is still coming, consider fixing the link addresses for internal links or setting redirects for external ones.
Use Prefetching Techniques
Prefetching involves reading and executing instructions before the user initiates them. Manage to anticipate user actions and load some links or content in advance. You will be able to significantly speed up the page loading times and improve user experience.
The good news is that most modern browsers allow for prefetching by default. To make the process more effective, web developers and UX specialists can include specific “hints” for browsers to work with.
The three main types of prefetching include:
- Link prefetching. Link prefetching can be used for stable user journey actions - for example, to anticipate that a user will navigate to a shopping cart after adding one or more items.
- DNS prefetching. DNS prefetching involves resolving domains into IP addresses in advance.
- Prerendering. Finally, prerendering is a prefetching technique that entails rendering some elements of a page or the entire page in advance.
While prefetching is a highly effective method of optimizing a website, it requires deep knowledge of user behavior. It is better to be left to a digital marketing professional like Signa Marketing.
Implement GZip Compression
GZip is a form of server-side data compression that can effectively reduce the size of your website’s files and improve its loading speed.
You can enable GZip on your website by adding a few lines of code or using a unique tool like GNU Gzip. Note that if you are already using a CDN, it is likely to have GZip compression enabled by default, taking the task off your hands.
Clean Up Your Database
Over time, your site’s database can quickly become bloated with unused information like outdated files, unused photos, and other garbage data. Cleaning up old files and optimizing the database is another effective technique for improving website loading speed.
Depending on the Content Management System (CMS) your website is equipped with, the exact steps required to clean up your database may differ.
For example, if WordPress powers your site, it will automatically save blog posts, comments, and other information that takes up much storage space. You could use a special plugin like WP-Optimize to organize and optimize this data.
Optimize Your Website with Signa Marketing
Without a doubt, a slowly-loading page is one of the most frustrating things one can stumble upon when browsing the web. A slow website can cost your business money and a damaged reputation while learning how to improve website loading speed can lead to lower bounce rates, higher conversions, and better organic rankings.
If website speed optimization and other SEO techniques still seem too challenging or time-consuming, don’t fret: we are more than happy to help at Signa Marketing.
Give us a call today to schedule a Free SEO Strategy Meeting with our team and learn about our page speed optimization services.