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Website Speed Optimization: 11 ways to improve your page load time to increase conversions

Website Speed Optimization: 11 ways to improve your page load time to increase conversions

We are the creatures of right here, right now and nobody likes to wait.

Everybody (including me) wants everything with a click of a button and done now!

Can you think of the last time when you actually waited for a website to load for more than 10 seconds?

I go straight to the close button within 7 seconds.

Google understands this completely.

They know that users want faster websites and that’s exactly why they have included web page speed as their user experience and ranking factors for websites.

Before we start, let’s understand what is website speed optimization, how to improve the site speed and how it helps you increase the conversion.

What is Website Page Speed?

This is pretty standard, website page speed means how fast your web page loads when somebody tries to log on your websites.

The loading time of your website or blog depends on various factors like server speed, page size, images size and more.

Why Page Speed is Important?

Because people don’t really like waiting.

Also, page loading time or page speed on your website is an important ranking factor of Google search engine.

A fast loading website adds to the user experience and will result in higher ranking as well as conversion.

And by default, a slow running website can affect your SEO negatively.

Google aims at offering the best of user-experience to their users and thus will never rank a website that takes more than 2-3 seconds to load.

How website page speed helps you boost your website conversion?

A slow loading website will frustrate the visitor who will bounce back from your site and look for better options. This means you get fewer visitors and even lesser conversion.  

As website speed or page loading time is a Google’s ranking factor, your website is less likely to receive a higher page ranking if it loads slowly.

How to find website page load time?

The Pagespeed Insights tool offered by Google is a great way to optimize your website.

Even though Google officially hasn’t announce that this is how they measure the page speed, it does offer a good explanation on how you can improve your website speed.

Another tool I recommend is webpagetest.org. I personally use these 2 tools when I optimize my blog site or client websites.

Both of these tools help me optimize the website page speed.

Google Pagespeed Insights

Go to Pagespeed Insights > Enter web page URL and click Analyze.

Once the test begins, you will see reports on different parameters including First contentful paint, first meaningful paint, speed index and more.

If these words seem too technical, don’t worry, you don’t need to understand all of it. But it’s always nice to know things.

Just focus on pagespeed insights. Out of 100 if your score is on the lower end, you need to work harder to reduce the page loading time of your website.

Note: Don’t worry if you find things too technical understand. You need to work only on a few aspects that are easy to understand and will help you improve your website speed.

Here are some of the best practices that improve your website page speed.

  1. Reduce HTTP request
  2. Image Compression
  3. Minify and combine files(HTML,CSS, JS)
  4. Update the hosting plan for a high-end server.
  5. Use Browser Caching
  6. Use CDN
  7. Enable Gzip compression
  8. Use Lazy loading for images
  9. Remove unnecessary plugins(WordPress)
  10. Resolve 404 errors
  11. Implement AMP

Reduce HTTP requests

HTTP requests are nothing but files that links on the web page like images, stylesheet, and javascript.

When a page loads, all these resources are downloaded by sending requests to the server. More requests we send to the server, more the time it takes to load the web page.

Take a look at your page and try to reduce the number of linked resources on your web page. This will lead to fewer HTTP requests and a faster website.

You can find out the requests on webpagetest.org

Image Compression

Images on your website and blogs are crucial for creating a visual impact on your visitors. However, images are to be used wisely on the web page as they affect your page speed.

You can reduce the image size and still maintain the quality of images by using tools like tinypng.com.

Don’t go with the name, it reduces the size of both jpg and png image types.

You can even use other tactics like using smaller images in a single image which is called the CSS Sprite technique.

And lastly, use icon fonts so you don’t have to use images for icons. It again depends on your website design so use it as per your need.

Minify and combine files(HTML,CSS, JS)

Reducing and combining file size of HTML, CSS, and JS will help you improve your website and blog speed.

Suppose, you have 3 CSS or JS files, you can simply combine the code and add one file into your HTML. That will reduce the number of HTTP requests to the server.

You can even reduce the file size by minimizing the code. You can use WordPress Plugin Fast Velocity Minify to optimize your code.

Here is the example of CSS code:

Before minifying the code

body{
   font-size:14px;
   color:#000;
}
h1{
   font-size:32px;
}

After minifying the code

body{font-size:14px; color:#000;} h1{ font-size:32px;}

Update hosting plan for high end server

Most website creators choose to opt a cost-effective way of using a shared server. The space on a shared server is enough for most of them, at least in the initial stage.

However, with time, you should upgrade your plan to a higher server in order to increase website speed.

Do remember that a high end hosting service will be expensive, so opt for it only when necessary for your business.

Use Browser Caching

As the name suggests, it helps you store your webpage resources on your local hard drive or temporary storage through the browser.

This way whenever a user loads the website for the first time, it stores the data into the browser’s temporary storage. And when the user surfs the website and goes to other pages, they will experience better site speed.

If you are using WordPress, you can use Wp Total Cache plugin. Just enable the option in setting and the plugin will do all the work for you.

Use CDN

Content Delivery Network(CDN) is a great way to speed up the website. CDN is where your resources like HTML, CSS, JS, Images will be stored in multiple servers in different regions like Asia, US and more.

So, if a visitor from the US is loading your website, resources are pulled from the nearest server. This way the website loads faster than loading from Asia’s server.

You can use the free CDN service like Cloudflare to help you speed up your website. Opt for Free plan to start with and if required, you can upgrade to a paid plan.

Enable Gzip compression

The Gzip is another file type. You can enable Gzip compression to compress the file delivery.

If you have Gzip enabled, it locates your file and temporarily compresses the file delivery.

It works very well with HTML and CSS file as they have more whitespace in them

Most of the servers support Gzip compression so it compresses the file before downloading. As a result, less bytes are downloaded and eventually the page loads faster.

If you are running a WordPress blog or website, you can use Wp Total Cache plugin which will help you with Gzip compression.

If you have static HTML or PHP site, you can do it via .htaccess file. You can find the compression code on HTML5 Boilerplate.

Use Lazy loading for images

Lazy load enables loading of images as and when the image appears on the screen of the user.

Assume, you have 10 images on the web page or your blog post. When a user visits your page, on first fold there might be only 1 image. So you have to load only one image at the time of web page loading.

Rest of the images will load as the user scrolls down and reaches that particular section with other images.

The simple Lazy Load plugin is an effective tool for lazy loading of images on your blog/ web page. It will significantly reduce your web page loading time as you are loading only 1 image at a time and other images are not loaded yet.

Remove unnecessary plugins(WordPress)

Plugins though are very useful, can sometimes add stress to the website and cause it to load slowly without you realizing it.

You can test the plugin effects by following this technique.

Disable one plugin and measure the site speed.

Note it down.

Do the same for all other plugins and find out which plugins are affecting loading time the most.

It’s a little time consuming but one of the surest way to single out the plugin affecting the speed.

You can then find an alternate plugin for that functionality or try the premium plan for that plugin. Most paid plugins are very well optimized for site speed.

Resolve 404 Errors

It often happens that a file or an image is removed from the server but the link to that file is still available on the web page.  

In such cases, whenever the web page is loaded it results in a 404 error.

And when the file is not available on the server, it takes more time to load that file as the system keeps trying to locate the file.  

You can easily identify these link via the Chrome Developer Tool.

Open the website in a Chrome browser > Press F12 or Right Click and select Inspect Element > Go to Network tab and Reload the page.

You will see the names of the files with a status column.

If it’s 404 error and in red color, take the recommended action and remove the link of that file and upload that file on the server.

Implement AMP

Accelerated Mobile Pages(AMP) is an open-source framework by Google which helps building a website that loads quickly and easily on mobile devices.

It’s an optimized framework specifically designed to give better user experience which helps you build web pages that load at warp speed resulting in enhanced User Experience.

If you are using WordPress, you will also find an AMP plugin. It’s pretty straightforward and doesn’t require a lot of input from your end. Simply install and make necessary changes as advised.  

Conclusion

Achieving the ideal speed is not that easy.

You will face hurdles and difficulties on the way.  

However, start implementing these 11 points and I am sure you will see results.

You don’t need to implement all of them at once. Take one step at a time and try to optimize the speed.

You can check your speed on Google Page Speed Insight or webpagetest.org.

Both the utilities will guide you on the errors and we have already discussed how to fix them.

Some of these points might seem small and unimportant but they impact your web page speed a lot.

So try to work around them and test the results.

Once you achieve this, I am sure you will notice a positive impact not only on web page speed but also in SEO and the conversions on your website. However, it will take time to reflect it as SEO is a long term game.

Incase, you are not in a position or are too busy running your business, you can alway request a  web designer or developer to help you with the webpage speed.

Well, that’s it then.

Leave a comment if you have any suggestions or if you have tried, I would request you to share your experience below.

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