Website speed is the crème de la crème of site optimization.
Make no mistake, the visuals and content on your website also play an integral role in making your site that much more attractive to visitors, but if your website takes forever to load, those elements will have served no purpose.
However, when you think about it, those very elements may be the reason why your website is taking more than the golden 3 seconds to load. Should this be the case, you may be losing visitors and you’re certainly decreasing the experience of the visitors your website does receive.
If you recall, I wrote about the relationship between website speed and user experience at the beginning of 2018. This article will be an extension of that post, offering 5 tips for optimizing your website’s load speed.
Before I get into 5 ways to make your website load faster, let’s look at a few of the straightforward benefits of having a fast website (less than 10-second load time):
- Better user experience (my favorite, and perhaps the most important)
- Higher search engine ranking (equally as important)
- Increased conversion rates (this is usually the goal of every site owner)
- Improved website performance (this is just all-around good)
- No penalty from Google (if Google can be for you, who can be against you?)
So, how can you make your website load faster?
Great question. Below are five website speed optimization tips.
Optimize Your Images
There are fewer things that take more of a toll on website speed than images.
Which is why having the images on your website optimized correctly will be the difference between a fast site and one that has visitors waiting 10, 20 or even 30+ seconds for it to fully load – that is, if those visitors actually stick around.
That said, you need to take the proper steps to ensure all the images on your site are optimized. In other words, you’ll need to reduce their size as much as possible without compromising quality.
Here’s three ways you can optimize your website’s images:
- Compress your images: You’ll find that some of your images may be carrying a few more kilobytes than they need. But no worries! Using a compression and resizing tool or software will help knock off those unnecessary kilobytes, without hindering the quality of your images.
- Size your images properly: Take the time to make sure your images aren’t bigger than what they actually need to be. Using the right size (width and height) each time will ensure that there’s no extra weight.
- Optimize the format of your images: Believe it or not, .jpg may not be the most optimal format for your website’s images. Play around with a few other types to see what provides you with the smallest file size (while maintaining quality) and use that on your site.
Optimize Your Website’s Code
Your code may be a culprit in your website’s slow load time.
Admittedly, understanding the relationship between website performance and website code is not a common goal for many website owners.
However, improper or less-than-optimized code keeps your website on the slow side by resulting in things like slow-rendering design and waiting for the site to make room for images (e.g., images) that don’t have space already allotted for them.
So, what’s the solution?
Well, that’s easy: optimize your code.
By fixing and optimizing your code, you’ll be able to remedy a handful of website response and performance issues that are contributing to your site’s slow load time.
Invest in a Dedicated Server
There’s no shortage of server options out there.
What there is a shortage of, however, is the ability to achieve optimal website speed when you’re hosting your site on a cheap (excuse me, “budget-friendly”) server with shared resources.
If decreasing your website’s load time is a serious goal for you, you’ll want to consider investing in a dedicated server for your site. As you’ve probably suspected, this option is more expensive than a shared server
But, when you think about it in terms of the business you could be losing based on slow load times, then the budget-friendly shared server you’re on may be costing you a lot more money than that $2.99 per month.
Host Larger Files Elsewhere
This is the age of media, so chances are you have a video or two plugged into your website. And that’s cool.
The only thing you need to be aware of is that larger files (like videos) will put strain on your website, thereby slowing it down to some degree.
If you do have larger files on your site, consider hosting them elsewhere to ensure the content isn’t too heavy for your site, causing you to lose in the long-run because your site’s load time will be horrible.
For instance, you can put your videos on external sites like Vimeo or YouTube.
Pay Attention and Test Regularly
I know what you’re thinking: “Well, duh. This isn’t really a tip.”
…oh, but it is.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen website owners take the one-and-done approach to website speed optimization.
Meaning they take all the steps to optimize their site, then test their website up until the point where it is at the load speed they want (usually 3 seconds or less). After that, they never test their site again.
Don’t be that website owner.
Speed optimization will require you to be consistently and intentionally paying attention to your site, and part of that effort will be regular speed testing.
Performing speed audits regularly means that if an increase does occur in your website speed, you can promptly address the issue.
How to Measure Your Website’s Load Speed
Okay, so you’ve implemented all of the tips above and are now ready to test your site’s load speed…where do you go?
There are hundreds, if not thousands of website speed tests out there, all of which use certain criteria (some similar, some unique) to test the speed of your website.
But, when it comes to website speed analysis, I keep it simple and recommend the tools within Google Analytics to all of my clients.
Google Analytics will provide you with a “site speed report” that gives you all the details about what content your website visitors are seeing and interacting with, total traffic over certain increments of time, and of course, load times among other things. All of the data yielded from Google Analytics will give you what you need to optimize your site’s load time.
If you’re just starting out with decreasing your website’s load time, start with these tips. Of course, there are plenty more things you can do to get your website speed down significantly, but you’ll find these tips to be effective in your journey to speed optimization.