Website speed is essential for any successful online marketing strategy. If your website is loading slower than your grandmother’s dial-up modem, then your business will suffer in a couple of important ways:
First, slow load time can kill your conversion rate. A 2012 study shows that even a 1 second increase in load time can cost you as much as 7% of your conversions. Amazon too found slower loading time had damaging effects on their sales. The evidence is in. Slow loading times cost money.
Second, slow load time can slash your traffic. Since 2009 Google has incorporated website time into their search engine rankings. As well as thinking about keywords and backlinks, good website load time should be part of any SEO strategy.
A faster website is fantastic for SEO, delivers much better user experience, and will get you more hits and more conversions.
Here are 21 ways to make your website as fast as a Lamborghini Aventador:
1. Optimize your images
This is a simple, quick fix that many marketers overlook. Before chucking your images onto the server, compress their size as much as possible.
Pro tip: Instead of resizing your images using html (like WordPress and other CMS do online) instead resize the images BEFORE you upload them. Browsers still have to load the full sized images for html resized files, which can greatly slow down your load time.
2. Clean Up Your Code
If you’re not a programmer you probably haven’t spent much time looking at those messy lines of code in your webpage source code. Chaotic, unnecessarily long code can look pretty much the same as tidy code on your browser, but it will have a much slower load time.
Hire a programmer to go through your site and tidy up your source code. Freelancer.com is great for finding programmers if you’re on a budget.
3. Compress your CSS
Use a CSS compressor to streamline your CSS. The less the browser has to load the quicker your website will be. Tidy up your source code and CSS and your website speed will increase.
4. Use Fewer External Codes
All those external features – from social sharing buttons to embedded YouTube videos – force people’s browsers to load more content from more sources, which slows down your load time.
Pro-tip: This may be controversial in today’s social media obsessed world, but consider moving your share buttons to the BOTTOM of your blog posts. At the top they will delay the loading time of the page, whereas if they’re at the bottom the post can load straight away.
5. Get Better Hosting
Not all hosts are created equal. Another website I administer was constantly plagued by down time and slow load speeds. We moved our hosting to Siteground and the website speed has increased dramatically. If you’re using wordpress, Kinsta is an excellent hosting option.
6. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
People will be viewing your website from all over the world. Content delivery networks ensures your website loads quickly no matter where in the world your visitors are by delivering it to them from servers as nearby as possible. Cloudflare is an excellent CDN.
7. Use Fewer Plugins
Do you really need all those plugins on your WordPress site? Consider that each plugin can increase your load time, so only stick to those that are absolutely necessary. Be sure to deactivate any plugins that you are not regularly using.
8. Shorten your Pages
There’s a reason why top tier online newspapers spread their long articles over several pages. The more content per page the longer it will take to load. If you have a monster article or blog post consider chopping it into smaller, more loadable pieces.
9. Use Gzip Compression
In addition to cleaning up your code and compressing your CSS you can use Gzip Compression to optimize all the resources on your website. Here’s a detailed explanation from the folks at Google. Here’s a Gzip Compression Tool
10. Find a Better Theme (And Keep it Up to Date)
If you’re using WordPress a good theme doesn’t JUST mean a pretty theme. As with people, sometimes it’s what’s on the inside that counts. When choosing a theme check out the reviews and be sure to find a theme that doesn’t just look great, but that is simply and effectively coded as well. This will cause fewer bugs and decrease your loading time. themeforest.net is a great place to find good themes.
11. Disable Hotlinking
If you are hosting images and other resources on your website, other people could be using your links to these images on their own domains. This means they benefit from your content whilst you pay the cost of the bandwidth and reduced load time. You can stop this by adding some simple code to your website. See number 8 on the list here
12. Enable Browser Caching
Browser caching makes your website load faster for repeat users by storing some parts of your website on their browser. This way they don’t have to load everything from scratch every time they visit your page. this plugin can help if you use WordPress.
13. Fix Broken Links
If you have an old website some of your links have probably moved or been deleted. If you are still linking to these pages from parts of your site it will slow down your load speed by forcing people to load your 404 pages and using up resources on pages that don’t exist. Use a broken link tracker to find these links and fix them.
14. Keep Your CMS Up to Date
Updates to CMS such as WordPress are important because they often contain important bug fixes and improvements. Keep your CMS up to date and your loading time won’t suffer because of errors that have already been fixed.
15. Use LazyLoad for Images
LazyLoad is a WordPress plugin that helps you decrease load time by telling visiting browsers to only load images that are above the fold. Images further down the page won’t be loaded until the viewer scrolls down. This means that when they first hit your page it will load faster because there are fewer resources to be downloaded straightaway.
16. Avoid Redirect Links
Redirects are terrible because the browser has the perform additional functions before loading the page you are sending people to. If at all possible link directly to the page you want people to visit.
17. Use Fewer Tracking Codes
The more codes on your site, the slower it will load. Use the bare minimum of tracking scripts. Google Analytics and UsabilityTools are the perfect combination, if we do say so ourselves.
18. [For Geeks] Listen to What the Search Engines Say
Yslow will analyse your website based on Yahoo’s search criteria and give you a grade as well as tips for improvement. Use this in combination with Yahoo’s Developer Guidelines for optimising website speed straight from the textbook.
19. Use Revision Control
When you are creating a blog post in WordPress, WordPress will store each draft version of the article. This can be useful whilst editing, but all these revisions take up space. If you’re like me you’ll use 25+ revisions per post as you edit your work. Revision Control will reduce the number of revisions WP stores for you.
20. Install Google’s PageSpeed Module
Hey if you’re trying to please Google, why not go directly to the big guys themselves. Their PageSpeed Module is a great wee tool to optimize your website behind the scenes and boost your page speed.
21. Use Pingdom Test Your Speed
So have your efforts to increase your website speed born fruit? Use Pingdom to test your website speed and get useful analytics.
Apply these strategies, and you’ll have a website which loads faster. This will bring you more traffic by boosting your search engine listings, and increase your conversion rates by reducing bounce and enhancing your user experience.
Let us know how you are using these ideas!