Say you’ve spent months and months on your SEO campaign. You’ve done all the research, found your keywords, set out a content strategy and got your website looking visually appealing.
If you bring a visitor to your site, and they find themselves waiting for more than a few seconds for your website to load, you’ll likely lose them and possible conversion. Having poor site speed is known to affect conversions, traffic, and more.
Never fear, though! If you’re wondering how to improve your website speed, there are several things you can do in 2021.
In this technical SEO blog from our team, we’ll outline 9 key ways you can increase your page loading time, including:
- Enable Compression
- Compress Images
- Reduce Redirects
- Improve Server Response Time
- Leverage Browser Caching
- Choose the Right Hosting Option
- Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
How to Check My Site Speed
You can easily see how your website’s currently performing using Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool. It will outline your site speed on both desktop and mobile, see your site is performing against the Core Web Vitals, and even give you lab data and recommendations on how to improve performance.
If you’ve identified that your site speed is anything below 90, you’ve got room for improvement.
How to Improve Site Speed
Large files can take up a lot of your page’s loading time. Making sure that your files are compressed effectively and correctly can help free up a lot of space.
You can easily find file compression software to help ensure your files are being compressed regularly. Try out 7-Zip, a free file compression software, or even WinZip or Zip Archiver for advanced file compression.
Large images are another site speed factor that seems to be overlooked. You should first ensure your images are no larger than they need to be for your design and that they are in the right file format. PNGs are generally better for graphics with fewer than 16 colours while JPEGs are generally better for photographs.
They should then be compressed for the web. There are several websites that you can use to manually compress each image. You can even find free WordPress image compression plugins – just make sure they are updated regularly and don’t break your current website’s theme.
Another option is to use CSS sprites to create a template for images that you use often on your websites, such as buttons or icons. CSS sprites combine your images into one large image that loads all together, which means fewer HTTP requests, and then displays only the sections that you want to show. This helps save load time by not making users wait for multiple images to load.
Minification is the process of removing unnecessary files from the code without affecting how a browser processes the page.
You should also remove code comments, formatting, and unused code. Google recommends several minifying resources for each type, including:
Double and triple redirects can cause a backlog of delays for your page. Each time a page redirects to another page, your visitor faces additional time waiting for the HTTP request-response cycle to complete.
You should work through your redirects and ensure that any unnecessary ones have been removed.
Improve Server Response Time
Your server response time is affected by the amount of traffic you receive, the resources each page uses, the software your server uses, and the hosting solution you use.
Reducing your server response time is crucial to your visitors’ page experience as it affects every file that’s included in your HTML, and directly influences how long it takes for your page to load.
A slow server response time may also negatively affect the front-end of your website, as visitors may only see a blank page while the browser is waiting for a response from the server.
You can improve a few ways – first by compressing files and minifying your code, as mentioned above. Implementing server-side caching, so your resources won’t have to load every time someone visits your site, is another great way to improve response time.
If your budget allows, you should also talk to your hosting provider about increasing your hardware or memory resources if your usage calls for it. Though, if your code files are messy and inefficient, upgraded hardware resources won’t help you! So start there.
Leverage Browser Caching
Having a browser fetch resource over the network is both slow and expensive. a download may require multiple roundtrips between the client and server, which delays processing and may block rendering of page content, and also incurs data costs for the visitor.
Choose the Right Hosting Option
Web hosting comes in a variety of prices and packages. If you’ve settled for a basic, cheaper option, when it comes to site speed, it shows! Cheaper plans typically can’t handle large amounts of traffic, so you should consider your site’s size and traffic volumes before settling on the cheapest option.
There are even different types of hosting options you can choose, depending on your needs.
- Shared Hosting: Shared hosting can be the most economical option. This is where a single server hosts multiple small sites. While the price for shared hosting is low, any surge in traffic to any other hosted sites can slow down yours.
- VPS Hosting: VPS, or virtual private server, hosts many sites, but each one has a virtual “spot” – mimicking dedicated server environments. Since it’s virtual, you’ll get more resources, potentially reducing the risk of site speed issues.
- Dedicated Server Hosting: Having a dedicated server means a website is hosted on a single server. Although this is a more expensive option, it helps mitigate the risk of any issues from sharing server resources.
- Cloud Hosting: Cloud hosting is where sites are hosted on a network of virtual and physical servers that offer more resources and more flexibility. For example, If your site sees a traffic surge, virtual hosting will scale up to handle it.
You should speak to your web developers and hosting providers to see what option will work best for your website.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A content delivery network is a network of servers that are dispersed geographically and can help speed up your site locally.
For example, a user in Manchester that is visiting a site from New York, for example, would be able to access the site from a server closer to their area.
By spreading out the content on multiple servers, reduces the number of requests to your main server, which ends up slowing download times.
The above tactics we’ve outlined are an advanced optimisation guide for increasing site speed. If you have poor page speed and you’re hoping to improve it, you should seek the help of an experienced web developer or technical team to apply the recommendations above.