How you ever visited a website and had to wait an eternity for the webpage to load? What did you do when the seconds kept on ticking and ticking? The majority of people will lose patience and move on to another website. And unless you have the patience of a saint that’s what you’ll do as well. In this blog post we will explain that the need for website speed is not only important but vital for your websites user experience and performance in search engines. We will give you practical tips on testing your website speed, diagnosing issues and implementing the changes necessary for your website to run at an optimal level. But before we get started with the technical procedures here are the reasons why you should consider investing in website speed optimization.
Why You Should Optimise Your Website Speed
As we described in the introductory paragraph, a slow web page speed can have a detrimental effect on a websites user experience. With 47% of consumers expecting a web page to load in 2 seconds or less, if you don’t’ meet your visitors expectations they will go elsewhere. Results of a slow web page can include:
- Bounce rate can increase.
- Conversions can drop.
Both of these will negatively affect the bottom line of your business, sales.
On the flip sign of the coin, if your website has been optimised for speed you will be providing an excellent user experience for your visitors. Your website will load faster, customer journeys will be smoother and conversions rates will increase.
Google considers over 200 different signals as SEO rankings factors; website speed is one of them. Therefore, having your websites speed performance running at an optimal level will also have a positive effect on your search engine result rankings. This alone should be a goal that you should want to achieve.
How to Conduct a Speed Test
At this point we hope you are on board with us and understand the benefits of having a fast website. The next step is for you to examine the speed of your website and determine if it runs like a snail or a cheetah.
The software we recommend to using is called Web Page Test. The following steps outline how you test your webpage speed .
First, go to www.webpagetest.org
- Enter the URL to test in the first field.
- Choose where to test from.
- Choose the browser to test on.
- Press start test.
Once you have pressed “start test” you will be brought to another page with the results.
In the screengrab above you can see that the load time for first few is five seconds. This could be improved by the Webmaster’s with the use of progressive JPEGs, caching static content and the effective use of CDN.
How to Implement Speed Optimization
Once you have tested your website the next step is to improve its performance. Remember, you are aiming for a webpage load time for of 2 seconds or less! You can start by finding a suitable hosting company. Shared hosting can be slower as there are 100’s or even 1000’s of sites running on the same server. By using a dedicated or cloud hosting solution your website will run faster and more secure.
The top 5 tips for optimizing your website speed include:
- Load JS files in the footer where possible.
- Use a Caching plugin. For WordPress there is W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache.
- Updated your .htaccess file to include expires headers, enable browser caching and enable gzip compression.
- Use a CDN either MaxCDN or Cloudflare.
By now, we hope you are a speed optimization convert. If not, here is our final thought. When Walmart (Giant US Supermarket Franchise) realised their website speed was slow compared with their competitors they decided to do something about it. They implemented speed optimization on their website and found that for every 1 second of improvement they experienced up to a 2% increase in conversions. Pretty good result don’t you think?