How to improve your site speed

by Angelo Zanetti: Co-founder and Managing Director at Elemental Web Solutions.
The speed with which your website loads is crucial to website visitors, to Google and ultimately to your conversions.

A lot of website owners aren’t aware of the importance of having a speedy website. Having a fast-loading website is essential to the success of your website and ultimately your bottom line.

What is the impact of website speed on users and conversions?

A conversion is deemed when a website visitor completes a successful action on your website.

Simply put, a slow website frustrates users, causing them to have a negative experience which could result in them abandoning the website entirely.

How your website speed influences Search Engine visibility

Google and other search engines take website speed into consideration as a factor when ranking sites in the search engine results pages (SERPS). Your website load time can influence how easily users can find you (or not find you) in the first place.

Over the last few years, there has been a large surge in people using mobile devices as their primary device. In that, Google shifted its focus to a mobile-first indexing approach.

This all combines to show search engines that your site doesn’t provide a positive experience to the user and thus rank your site lower on the results page.

What is a good website speed then?

According to Google, the best practice for a really good site speed is between three and five seconds.

There are many factors that influence this such as the size of the website’s pages and the content on the page, how the data is loaded and where it’s loaded from.

While this is Google’s recommendation, almost all sites will fail to load within these times.

Here’s how you can improve your website speed

Now that you know that having a fast website is crucial to your business, search engine visibility and conversions, you most likely want to know how you can make it faster?

To name a few, below are a number of factors that can improve website speed and improve your site’s performance.

1. Optimise images

Images are part and parcel of any website. They’re crucial for showing users your products and other aspects of your business in a visual manner. However, they can also play a major role in slowing down your site. Images can often be very large in size, meaning that they take longer to load, in turn making pages load slower.

Obviously, removing these images is not an option, therefore optimising the images is the only real solution here.

2. Minify your Javascript and CSS

Your website loads many different files behind the scenes, which can contribute to slowness especially if these files are big and bulky. Some of these types of files are Javascript and CSS files.

A technique to make these files smaller in size is to “minify” them. Minifying a file involves removing unnecessary formatting, whitespace, and code.

3. Remove unnecessary libraries and plugins

Libraries and plugins can be useful to a project by adding extended functionality. This however does come at a price in terms of the speed it takes to load these additional libraries and plugins.

It is recommended to evaluate the plugins and libraries you have installed on a regular basis, removing ones that are not needed will improve the overall speed of the website and make maintenance easier too.

4. Enable Web Browser Caching

The first time you visit a website, the web browser downloads the HTML document, stylesheets, javascript files, and images before being able to view and use your website’s page.

Now that the website is loaded, many elements on the website’s pages are stored on your hard drive in a cache or temporary storage. Meaning that the next time you visit the same website, only a few elements need to be downloaded.

5. Redirects

Redirects impact site speed in that they are having to use additional resources to download and serve the correct page. The more redirects are found on a page/website the slower it will become over time.

6. Using embedded video

Websites that house videos should consider using a 3rd party video service like Vimeo or Youtube, to speed up the performance of the website.

Using a third party service allows you to save on space as you don’t need to host the video files, it’s fairly easy to implement the embedded video players from these services and will load the video faster.

To end this off

Having a fast website is good for your visitors as it provides them with a great user experience, as they can interact with it and find the information they need quickly.
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