We have all experienced a situation in which we type something into Google and click on a page, only to be met with a loading time that lasts way too long. And what do we do? We click away in a matter of seconds and choose something else among the search results. With all the information of the world readily available at our fingertips, we have grown quite impatient. Statistics show that the average user expects a page to load in 3 seconds or less. The majority of users will abandon a page that has a slower loading speed.
While this need for website performance does not affect users that much, it can be quite detrimental to businesses due to higher bounce rates. A slow website can result in losing most of your potential customers before they even see what you have to offer. In order to stop unnecessary losses and increase conversion rates, it is essential to improve website page speed.
What is Page Speed?
Page Speed is the amount of time it takes for your page’s content to load. Speed is measured as either page load time or time to first byte (time required for the browser to receive the first byte of data from the web server).
If you are interested in knowing what your website’s current page speed is, visit Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a great tool for speed testing. It takes data from the Chrome User Experience Report and shows two vital speed metrics – First Contentful Paint and DOMContentLoaded.
It will give you an overall score of a web page, both on desktop and on mobile. If you have a high score, then you have nothing to worry about. If you have a bad rating, don’t worry. PageSpeed Insights will show you what to fix to speed up your website and what parts already speed optimized.
Importance of Page Speed
There are two important reasons to pay attention to your page speed.
- Visibility – Play By Google’s Rules
The first one is related to search engines and Google’s preferences. Google does a lot to provide an exceptional user experience to everyone. They do this by offering quality websites first. These are the pages that will appear in the first SERP.
Many wonder what makes some pages rank higher. The answer lies in Google’s ranking factors. They use complex algorithms that assess many ranking factors. One of the most critical factors is site speed and, consequently, page speed. This means that page speed is a vital factor for determining where you rank. If you are not performing up to the high standards of Google, then you will have a hard time showing up in people’s searches.
- Convertibility – Cater to the User
The second reason why you need to improve page speed is conversion. If you want to have a chance at converting your visitors into customers, then you want your website to load quickly. The best design and product cannot sell if it is never seen. You only have a few seconds to capture attention, and if those seconds are spent waiting for a site to load, then you will lose a lot of business. Every second a page takes to load can reduce the number of potential conversions.
How do you Improve Page Speed?
There are numerous factors that affect the loading time of your pages and your overall website speed. This means that there are numerous steps you can take to reduce your load time and improve user experience. These are some of the most important areas to focus on for improving site performance and increasing site speed.
Image files are an essential part of any page. They breathe life into the text and visually communicate to the reader what the page is about. However, many people forget image optimization when it comes to their website. Poor image optimization results in files that are large or in the wrong format and require more time to load. One of the best ways to speed up your site is to pay attention to the image size and files you use. Make sure to use compressed images when uploading to your website.
CSS sprites are an excellent image tool that is frequently used on websites. Buttons and icons can be combined into one large image that only needs to be loaded once. It will then allow you to show the ones you want to display where you want to display them, reducing the amount of time it would take to upload several separate images.
Utilize Browser Caching
Browser caching is another method of making a big difference in your page speed. Fetching the necessary resources to load a site takes a lot of effort. It requires loading each image and element on the page and then dealing with the HTML and coding that accompanies it. Every time someone loads your page, the process needs to happen again. This is a lot of website load time that can be avoided with browser caching. It works by memorizing the previously loaded elements and resources so that it does not have to load them with every visit. When someone explores your site, they will not have to load elements like footers and logos.
The good news is that browsing cache is easily implemented on WordPress sites. W3 Total Cache is a great plugin that will enable you to increase site speed. If you do not have a WordPress site, then it is best to speak to your developer and see what course of action is best.
Enable Gzip Compression
Remove Unnecessary Plugins
WordPress sites tend to have a lot of plugins added to make them more functional and efficient. However, it is important to take the time to remove plugins that you are no longer using.
Make Sure There Are Fewer Redirects
Every time your page redirects to another page, your visitors will face additional time waiting for the HTTP request-response cycle to be completed. Make sure you work with a competent developer that can reduce the number of redirects and improve your page speed.
Keep on Testing
When you take the time to create an online presence that represents you and your brand, it is important to optimize it fully. Every part of your site needs to be on point to improve the overall speed and user experience it provides. People cannot stand a slow website. Nobody wants to wait 15 seconds to see what you have to offer. These are just some ways you of speeding up your website and pages. Make sure to try them out and test other ways that can help you shave off valuable seconds of load time and improve your website’s overall speed.