Many people are overwhelmed with the advice that automated speed checkers such as Google Pagespeed Insights provides, and they give up. But the good news is that for almost any site, there are 10 easy things you can do to make your site faster without giving you headaches.
The important of page speed on trust
A consumer has seen your Instagram post and has begun to follow you on Twitter. They’ve liked you on Facebook and are now following the blog articles you’re posting and responding to your posts in the comments.
You’re slowly building their trust with carefully honed articles about concepts relevant to your brand, images you’ve commissioned for your social media and curated articles that your team has chosen as informative and useful to your consumers.
Bit by bit, you’re establishing contact with this online shopper and becoming a part of their day. You’re interacting with them. Finally, they decide to make a purchase on your website. They’re on their smartphone.
They have a 30-minute lunch break at work and they’re standing in line to get a sandwich and would like to have the purchase completed before their food arrives, so they have time to eat. There’s one problem: Your website keeps crashing or the page load times are incredibly slow.
When it does finally load, one of the close-ups of the item is broken, though the others give the customer a good enough idea of what the product looks like. They try to complete the purchase a few times and the purchase finally goes through, but they’ve used up half of their precious lunch break trying to make the purchase.
Back at the office, they complain to a few colleagues about how long it took them to purchase your product. They continue to follow you on Facebook and Twitter, as they don’t necessarily have time to unfollow, but you’ve lost their engagement. They don’t like or share posts anymore.
The next time they go to buy a similar product, they go with another company, just in case your website takes forever to load again. Even though the purchase did go through, the time it took for the customer to purchase the item was longer than it took in real life for their sandwich to be made and paid for.
This was too long, costing you all that trust you’d built up with this consumer over time. Site speed is a serious issue that needs to be addressed to ensure good user experience. This includes download speeds, upload speeds, web page content, and site load speed, as well as the overall server response times.
The average user expects a fast website
Though this sounds like a daunting task, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be too difficult to fix to maximize the performance of your website. Site speed is critical when it comes to closing sales that you make sure your website is updated, there are no broken links, and that the page load time is as close to two seconds as possible—the amount of time the average 18 to 24-year-old will wait before moving on to a different site.
In other words, by the time a youngster has typed your URL into a browser like Internet Explorer or Google Chrome, they are already thinking about the next web page. In addition, faster server response times also maximize search engine optimization (SEO), which, in turn, will help improve traffic to the site.
When you’re running a business, you don’t have a lot of extra time and cash to put into improving your website. But there are a few low-hanging fruits you can go after to make sure your site is running as well as possible. Try these first, before sinking a ton of time and money into your site.
Remember, the website is the face you’re showing the world; it’s more official than your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media pages and this means that it should be operating smoothly. If it isn’t, you’ll see a huge impact on your bottom line.
According to Hubspot, 80% of consumers who aren’t happy with how their online purchase went were unlikely to return to that site again when making a similar purchase. And a delay of just one second can result in 10% fewer page views on average.
The 10 quick fixes to speeding up your site
So, what can you do to make your site fly faster?
- Shrink your image dimensions. Many times you upload an original image but when viewing it you’re only looking at a smaller version of it. It’s squeezed down to fit within your page design. Taking a 1000 x 1000 pixel image down to 500 x 500 usually makes the file size about 4x smaller, and your users won’t notice the difference.
- Compress your images. The average image is saved in formats that aren’t meant to be sent over the web, and have extra data in them such as when and where they were taken. By using a service like TinyPNG you’ll quickly reduce the size of your images, thus speeding up your pages’ load times. The last image I did this to went from 180KB down to 28KB – with no noticeable change in quality. It’s like free page speed!
- Consider your web hosting. Are you still using GoDaddy as a host? Well, think again. This hosting service won’t be able to keep up as your web traffic increases. Invest in a better host like WP Engine, Liquid Web, or Rackspace. These will cost more than the cheaper hosts, but the price tag is well worth it. Managed hosting is best if you’re not sure what you’re doing in this arena, as you’ll get the peace of mind of extra website security as well as some guidance when it comes to maintaining and backing up your site against any missteps.
- Remove unneeded code. Remove any fancy little add-ons that you don’t absolutely need. It that fancy image gallery widget worth the extra 700 KB of bandwidth that it uses? Or could a simple image collage take its place?
- Keep an eye on your redirects. When these sites change, they can cause broken links, which doesn’t look good. Have too many and it’ll be like playing whack-a-mole trying to keep up with the 404 pages.
- Don’t go crazy with the WordPress plugins. A lot of people don’t realize that too many of these can really slow the load time on a page. Try reducing these to the ones you absolutely need.
- If you’re using WordPress, use a caching plugin. It’s simple and really helps with minimizing RTTs (round trip times) since your server isn’t running the code to generate your site every single time it’s accessed. The code runs periodically, and then it’s saved as a static file so that the next time someone views the same page it doesn’t have to be recomputed – saving crucial seconds.
- Use a premium DNS provider. The DNS server that your host provides works, but is not optimized for lots of traffic. Using a professional DNS host like DNSMadeEasy will ensure your domain name is translated to an IP address much faster, and from all over the world.
Some of these tips can be done in as little as 5 minutes, and can have huge effects on your web performance. Trust me, your visitors will thank you for it.
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