Why website speed is important
Google understands that users want fast access to information, products, and services. Their algorithm is designed to display websites that offer a great user experience and they use site load speed is an important factor, along with other performance indicators, to decide which order to rank web pages in their search results. In other words, Google likes to reward websites that load quickly. Increasing your website speed can put you ahead of your competitors and improve your search engine rankings, while a slow website can put users off and negatively influence sales. 25% of visitors tend to abandon a website if it takes more than 4 seconds to load.
If your website is loading slowly, it is time to look for issues that could be causing this and to resolve these problems so that visitors have a more enjoyable user experience.
Choose the right hosting option for your needs
The hosting company and plan that you choose will have a considerable impact on your website speed. It is worth investing time and money in researching good quality web hosting services and to make sure your web hosting plan meets your needs.
Testing your current website speed
There are a number of free tools that will test the loading speed of your website and offer recommendations for improvement.
GTMetrix is a free tool that gives detailed recommendations about how to improve your website speed.
Google Pagespeed Insights is another free tool that is really useful for helping you diagnose problems that may slow down your website. It gives you a separate score for desktop and mobile speed loading and suggests how to make it load faster.
Optimising images to load quicker
There are various tools that you can use to identify large images, such as Screaming Frog and Internet Marketing Ninja’s online tool Image and Link Analyzer. Optimising images involves using the correct format, using compression to reduce the Mb size, and resizing images to the appropriate dimensions before uploading them.
1. Reduce the Mb size of your images
High-quality bulky images are usually the largest contributors to web page size. Using images on your website are necessary to improve user experience, but they can greatly slow down your page loading time. For a ‘full page’ web image, try to keep the image less than 80Kb-100Kb. Try experimenting with various quality settings for your images.
2. Resize your images to the dimensions you need before uploading them
For a blog, images may only need to be 600px wide. Any images that are larger will be displayed at that width but are not fully optimized to load quickly.
You can use a simple tool like Preview on a Mac or Microsoft Paint on Windows to easily resize images.
3. Use the most appropriate image format
After the images are compressed, you’ll want to make sure that you’re saving them as the right file type. Often JPG will be the best option. PNG files take up more space but are best for transparent images.
Other website speed improvements
The Facebook like box
This is another feature that can often slow down a website.
Use a cache
Whenever users visit a new website, the images and other elements that need to be loaded get stored in a temporary storage area or cache on their hard drive. Taking advantage of using caching means that your website speed will be faster for returning visitors.
Use a CDN
CDNs consist of a network of servers hosting cached copies of web pages.
WordPress specific tips
Here are a few basic tips to speed up your WordPress site and decrease page loading time.
Plugins – less is more
Plugins that can use a lot of resources and slow down your site so use widgets and plugins sparingly – don’t use more than you need.
Go through all your plugins. Ask yourself if you really need each one. If the answer is “no,” deactivate and delete the plugin right away. You can always re-add it later if it becomes necessary.
In particular, the following ones can be heavy on resources:
- Broken Link Checker
- Contact Form 7 (try Ninja forms or WP Forms)
- NextGen Gallery (try using Envira)
- Wordfence Security
Try using a faster slider plugin, such as soliloquy.
Only have essential widgets in your sidebar
Useful plugins for speed optimization
Some plugins are useful for speeding up your website. For example, you should use a cache plugin such as WP fastest cache or W3 total cache.
More page speed optimization can be achieved using plugins such as PageSpeed Ninja and Autoptimize plugin.
The WP Smush.it plugin can be used to automatically compress your images.
If you are using WordPress it can help speed up your website by choosing a fast loading theme, for example Neve, Hestia, GeneratePress, Astra, Zakra, OceanWP or Vantage. These are light on resources.
Turn off Pingbacks and Trackbacks
Pingbacks and trackbacks are often enabled by default. To turn them off – from the WordPress dashboard, Settings -> Discussion. Find the checkbox that says “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) on new articles” and ensure that it is unchecked.
Avoid Hosting Videos on Your WordPress Site
It is best to upload videos to YouTube or Vimeo and copy the link into your WordPress website
Check with your hosting provider whether you are using the latest version of PHP – WordPress is faster with PHP 7.
Website users are less tolerant than ever of slow websites – if your website’s page speed is slow then often your visitors will hit the back button and never come back. Furthermore, the move towards mobile devices means that if your website is not loading quickly enough, it will not even be displayed in the search results.
My advice is to start with whatever is within your capabilities. Even small changes can make big difference.
Hopefully you found this article useful. Why not check out 13 blog tips to improve SEO
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