No one has the time to wait for a web page that takes forever to load… especially when one can easily go to a competitor’s website. As such, page speed plays a crucial role in your visitor’s user experience. Yet, most website owners place website performance on the backseat. Instead, they focus on overly-complex website functionality and sophisticated web design.
Whether your customers visit your site for its aesthetic appeal, for a tempting bargain they can’t refuse, or they simply found what they were searching for, it all boils down to landing on your website as quickly as possible. If you can shorten the process by a matter of milliseconds, you can convert potential visits to actual sales.
According to Kissmetrics:
- 1 second delay in page response will lead to a 7% reduction in conversions.
- 47% of consumers expect web pages to load in 2 seconds or even less.
- 40% of them will abandon a website that takes more than 30 seconds to load.
- 79% of online shoppers who are dissatisfied with a website performance are less likely to buy from the same website again.
- 52% of the online shoppers stated that fast page load is crucial to their site loyalty.
Use the table of contents to skip sections…
Does Site Speed & Website Performance Affect Google Search Rankings?
Site speed is one of over 200 signals Google uses to decide search ranking. While Google announced (in 2010) that site speed does not carry as much weight as content relevance, this is something that’s important.
Regardless, you should always optimize your web page speed because a faster load time…
- Relates to better search ranking (hence, you get more organic traffic)
- Gives your visitors a better user experience, which improves your conversion rate.
Nonetheless, you’ll still need to prioritize reputation, relevance and content quality of your website above everything else.
8 Factors That Slow Down a Website
Here are some of the common suspects that could be slowing down your website:
- Third-party online ad network
- Poor choice of web host
- Too many widgets and plugins
- Not using Gzip compression
- External embedded media
- Unsuitable browsers and apps
- Large image file sizes
- Not implementing expire headers
1. Third-party online ad network
2. Poor choice of web host (or web hosting set up)
When you’re running a resource-intensive website and your web host can’t keep up with the demand, there’s a good chance your site will experience slow and intermittent page load. This is especially true for those on a shared server environment. In this case, consider switching your web host or upgrading your web hosting plan.
3. Too many widgets and plugins
You might not know it, but that plugin or widget that promises more useful features could be the main slow-loading culprit. The more plugins and widgets you install, the more work it requires for it to load. In addition, some plugins can conflict with each other and further slow down (or break) your site.
Keep in mind, not all plugins are created equal. Many are no longer updated, which can not only severely slow down your site but also may compromise it’s security.
4. Not using Gzip compression
5. Too many external embedded media
The more media embeds a web page .has, the slower it is going to load. Videos, music and image slideshows are great sources of content, but they can also add more codes to the web page, affecting page load speed.
6. Unsuitable browsers and apps
As nice as it looks, Flash is notorious for slowing down a website and it’s not even compatible with most mobile devices. Browsers such as Chrome don’t work well with some plugins. Make sure to always test page speed and if it loads properly on different devices and browsers.
7. Not reducing large image file sizes
Uploading large images to your website can slow down the site when these images are loaded on browsers. The solution here is to trim their size (usually measured in pixels) and weight (measured in kb) of each image before they are uploaded.
8. Not implementing expire headers
If Cache-Control or Expire headers are not configured, it would be difficult for the visitors’ browsers to cache the content locally. This would mean additional requests for page components will be more than what is needed.
7 Ways to Optimize Website Performance
How do you speed up web page loading time?
There are several tools you can use to ensure that your website speed is operating at its optimum. Before employing any changes to your site, make sure to generate a backup. Here are some ways to speed up your site:
- Test website speed
- Optimize images
- Use Content Delivery Network
- Enable Gzip compression
- Minimize the number of plugins
- Enable browser caching
- Choose a reliable web host
1. Test website speed
If you have issues with your site speed or you want to know how your website is performing, there are free tools you can use to test and improve it.
Here are just a few that you can try:
- PageSpeed Insights
- Web Page Analyzer
- Load Impact
- Yoast Google Analytics Plugin
- P3 (Performance Plugin Profiler)
2. Optimize images
When uploading images, make sure that they are in small file sizes (preferably in kilobytes), otherwise it may take a longer time to load on your page. Use the suitable file formats as well. JPEG is optimised for photos, while PNG and GIF are recommended for icons and other web graphics. If you’re on WordPress, you can install WP Smush.it which helps to reduce file sizes without losing the visual quality.
3. Use Content Delivery Network
If your website display huge amount of data, you might want to use CDN (Content Delivery Network). CDN uses a wide network of servers strategically placed in different locations to deliver web content to visitors. The closer the CDN server is to the site visitor, the faster the content will be delivered to the visitor’s computer device.
4. Enable Gzip compression
Another way to speed up page load time is to zip or compress them. Compression cuts down your web page’s bandwidth, hence decreasing the HTTP response. You do this using a tool called Gzip which can reduce download time by up to 70%.
5. Minimize the number of plugins
Too much of a good thing is bad, so installing too many plugins will not only slow down your website, but it can pose some security risks as well. Here’s a tip: Deactivate and remove unnecessary plugins that may cause your site to slow down. First, try to disable the suspected plugin, then measure server performance thereafter. In that way, you can track which plugin slows down your site speed. If it does, delete it completely.
6. Enable browser caching
Whenever a user visits a site, the components of a web page visited are stored in a temporary storage or the user’s cache. So the next time the same site is visited, a user’s browser can load the page without sending another HTTP request on the server. Configure “Expires” from a minimum of one week up to one year for cacheable resources like JS, CSS files, PDFs, media files, etc.
7. Choose a reliable web host
Choosing the right web host plan is a smart business move to boost website performance. A cheap host plan may offer you savings at the beginning, but you may end up paying more in the long run in order to serve your website needs. Make sure to choose a trusted web host with a right variety of hosting plans to handle all your website resources.