One of the most common questions we get after doing an SEO audit of a client’s website is this: “How do I speed up my website? It’s not like I can access the server it’s hosted on!”
Slow site speed is an incredibly common issue among experienced online entrepreneurs and beginners alike.
It can also be far more damaging to a company’s online presence than most people think.
Here’s how you can optimize your website for maximum speed – and why you should do that right now.
The Importance of Site Speed
Nobody likes a slow site – not you, not your customers, and certainly not search engines.
Slow websites kill conversions, sales, and organic search traffic. All it takes is one extra second of loading time.
That means less money in your pocket – and fewer returning customers.
79% of customers say they will be less likely to make a repeat purchase after encountering issues with website performance, such as slow site speed.
Amazon calculated that a 1-second slowdown would cost them $1.6 billion per year.
How much money is a slow website speed costing you?
What Is a Good Website Speed?
According to 2018 data by Google, three seconds is a good goal to strive for, as many websites are nowhere near that.
As your page load time goes from 1 to 3 seconds, the bounce rate increases by 32%.
However, once you hit the 5-second mark, it shoots up by 90%.
Keep in mind 47% of customers still expect a page to load in two seconds or less.
If yours takes three, you risk losing almost half of your potential customers before they even arrive on your site.
Before moving on to the rest of the article, make sure to go check your site speed with a tool like Pingdom!
It will help you figure out how much work you’ll need to do to optimize your website.
8 Easy Ways to Speed Up Your Website
1. Optimize images.
If you do nothing else after reading this article, do this.
Optimizing your images is the low-hanging fruit of page speed optimization.
Also, check your file format: JPEGs work better for photographs, while PNGs are great for graphics with less than 16 colors.
If you are a WordPress user, you can also use an image optimizer plugin like WP Smushit.
2. Implement browser caching.
Browsers cache information so that, when a visitor comes back to your site, they don’t have to reload the entire page.
If you are a WordPress user, you can use plugins like WP Super Cache to easily configure your cache settings and improve your website’s loading time.
3. Optimize your code.
The smaller your files, the faster they will load.
You should also remove comments, formatting, and any unused code, and combine any files that can be combined into one.
This is what’s known as “minifying” code.
4. Enable compression.
After optimizing your code, you can reduce its size further by using a file compression service like Gzip.
According to Yahoo, Gzip reduces response size by as much as 70%.
5. Improve server response time.
The optimal server response time is under 200ms.
It is affected by how much traffic you receive, the resources each page uses, the software your server uses, and your hosting provider.
To improve server response time, look for issues or bottlenecks in these areas, like slow routing, slow database queries, or lack of memory.
One of the biggest issues in this area is the amount of time a DNS (domain name server) lookup takes.
If your site is slow, consider switching to a better DNS provider.
According to TechRadar, OpenDNS, Cloudflare, and Google Public DNS should be your top choices.
6. Reduce redirects.
Redirects come in handy after moving or deleting pages on your site, as they help eliminate issues with broken links – which are a major SEO red flag.
However, more redirects mean more HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) requests, which can negatively impact loading times.
You can use a tool like Screaming Frog to identify and analyze your redirects.
While eliminating them entirely is not realistic for most website owners, make sure every single redirect serves a necessary purpose.
7. Use a content distribution network (CDN).
Users who are physically further away from your site’s original server would normally experience slower load times.
Using a CDN is a quick and easy solution to this problem.
A CDN stores a copy of your site on multiple geographically distributed data centers to improve accessibility and load times for users across the globe.
TechRadar ranks Cloudflare and Fastly as the best choices in the CDN department.
8. Try lazy loading.
Lazy loading loads the main elements of your website before loading images and videos.
For example, if you write a blog post with 10 images in it, a user will not have to wait for all of those images to load before reading the post.
If you are a WordPress user, you can use a plugin like Lazy Load to implement lazy loading.
How Handmade SEO Can Help
Site speed is a major website performance factor that affects everything from your search traffic to your sales.
Do you know if yours is up to par? What about other factors that affect your website’s SEO and conversion potential?
Check out our free Digital Marketing Assessment to find out!
It includes a complete SEO audit of your website that will show you exactly how you can improve your website’s ranking in Google and convert more visitors into buyers.
Did we mention it’s completely free?