When you launched your website, you likely put a lot of thought into your domain name and site design, but if you ignored your page speed, you’ve made a grave mistake. You need to think about site speed optimization, or tuning up your website to load as fast as possible.
Website speed is not only factored into Google’s ranking algorithms, which means you’ll show up higher the search results, but it’s important for user experience as well.
When you’re looking to please your site visitors, you’ll want to make sure your pages load fast. Below, I discuss why this factor is so important and how to speed up your site if it’s slow.
Visitors Will Abandon Slow-Loading Sites
The statistics are clear. Studies show that 47 percent of people expect a website to load in fewer than two seconds while 57 percent will abandon a website than takes more than three seconds to load.
That said, any loading speed above three seconds is dangerous for user experience.
Think about your own online experiences. How often have you become frustrated at slow site speeds? Have you ever abandoned a shopping cart because the page wouldn’t load fast enough?
The problem is very real, and you can’t pretend that your site visitors are loyal enough to sit through a slow-loading site, because the ones who aren’t have already ditched your site and aren’t coming back. In fact, as much as 88 percent of users are less likely to return to poor performing websites.
Furthermore, KISSmetrics reports on an experiment conducted by Google. When they compared search pages with 10 results and those with 30 results, they found that those that loaded 30 results dropped traffic by 20 percent. The difference was just half a second in page speed.
Site Speed Optimization Affects Your Bottom Line
Because slow site speeds affects user experience and causes visitors to abandon your site before they really get a chance to look around, it also affects your bottom line. People who would have otherwise purchased from you are turned off by slow site speeds and are buying from your competitors instead.
Forbes reports that a one-second delay in page speed will result in 7 percent fewer conversions, a 16-percent decrease in customer satisfaction, and 11 percent fewer page views.
Not only are fewer page views and decreased customer satisfaction costing you, but 7 percent fewer conversions means 7 percent less profit.
How to Speed Up Your Site
If you’re concerned that your page speed is affecting your user experience, don’t fret! You don’t have to be stuck with a slow website. With a few tweaks here and there, you can speed up your site to load in a reasonable amount of time to keep people browsing through it.
Start by running a page speed test to see where you’re at. Pingdom is a good place to start. Simply enter your domain name and wait a couple of second for the results.
If your page loads in one second or under, there shouldn’t be anything more you have to do. If it’s under three, you’re above average and doing okay.
If your site loads anywhere between three to seven seconds, you’re about average, but you may want to explore ways to get it to load just a few seconds faster. If your site loads in anything more than 10 seconds, then you know that something is seriously wrong, and you’ll want to find the problem right away.
Pingdom can give you a general idea of what requests are taking time, but otherwise, here are some problems and solutions you may find useful:
- If you’re running WordPress, navigate to your plugins page and deactivate all your plugins. If that speeds up the site, then you know where the problem lies. Reactivate them one-by-one until your website slows again, and then you’ll find the plugin with the issue. If deactivating your plugins didn’t speed up your site, they’re not the problem. This is also a good time to delete any plugins you don’t need.
- Choose a good theme. Again, if you’re using WordPress, you’ll want to choose a quality theme. Don’t just consider how it looks aesthetically. Also consider how the page loads since the way the theme is written behind-the-scenes will affect your page speed. Your best bet is to purchase a premium web theme.
- Consider upgrading your hosting package or switching web hosts. If you’re on a shared hosting plan, this may be the culprit behind your slow site. Although host providers advertise unlimited bandwidth, share hosting plans use numerous users on the same server, which slows down site speed. Consider upgrading to a better hosting plan with fewer users per server, or research hosting providers to switch to a faster one altogether.
- Enable browser caching. The first time someone visits your site, their computer has to download all of the elements on your site (i.e., images, plug-ins, cookies, etc.). However, if users are able to cache that data, they’ll have to load fewer elements on subsequent visits, making your site load faster.
- Minimize HTTP requests. As Yahoo reports, 80 percent of your response time is spent loading elements like images, stylesheets, and scripts. You can minimize these requests by streamlining your design with fewer elements, combining multiple stylesheets, and using CSS instead of images when possible.
- Optimize your images. Large images take longer to load, so you’ll want to upload images at the smallest size you need. For example, upload an image with a 500 px width instead of one with a 2000 px width that’s later set to a width parameter of 500 px. Also, JPEG is typically the best file type for the web as it will load fastest.
With these ideas in mind, you should have a better understanding of how important your website speed is for the user experience and your bottom line. Start with these tips for speeding up your site if you don’t feel like you’re quite “there” yet. If you still don’t fall below the three-second mark or you’re aiming for even slower speeds, you can find more tips on speeding up your website here.
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This is a guest post by Mike Wallagher, a professional blogger and internet marketer who helps beginners to make their blogs more successful. When he is not behind a computer, he is probably in the woods taking pictures of nature. Visit him online at: https://startbloggingonline.com/.