The internet is a fast-paced place, and people are impatient. So if they have to wait too long for your page to load, they’ll leave and go somewhere else. We know that doesn’t sound like much of an issue – but if you’re not getting the customers you want and your bounce rate is sky-high, it can be a big problem!
That’s why we’ve put together this list of tips on how to make your pages load faster so that more people will stay on them longer. By following these simple steps, you can give yourself the best chance at converting visitors into paying customers by making sure their experience with your site is as smooth as possible.
What Is Page Speed and Why Does It Matter?
First things first, let’s take a look at what page speed is since it’s often confused with website speed. Simply, page speed is how fast a single page loads on your website. In other words, it’s how long it takes for your page to go from the visitor hitting enter in their browser to having all content fully loaded, images displayed, and links functional.
Multiple factors go into page speed, but the main elements are:
- The size of your code and how many individual connections there are to load it.
- How many elements the page has (images, videos, graphics, and other media files). The more there are, the longer it takes a visitor to load them all in their browser.
- Themes and plugins you use on your site.
That’s all great, but what’s the importance of page speed? Actually, page speed affects several different metrics that can either help or hinder your ability to convert a visitor into a customer.
That’s because it directly impacts UX, which itself impacts your bounce rate, visitor session duration, and your overall conversion rates. In short: it affects how long a visitor stays on your site, which is absolutely critical to the success of any website.
Did you know that every extra second your page takes to load makes a difference? That’s right! According to Google research, if your page loading time increases from one second to three, your bounce rate probability increases by 32%! And that number increases by 90% if your page takes 5 seconds to load.
Not to mention, page speed also impacts SEO. For example, if your site loads too slowly, Google may rank you lower in search engine results, whereas a speedy site is more likely to rank highly.
Finally, poor page speed can hurt your brand perception. If you’re trying to create a good first impression about your business, but people are leaving before your page even finishes loading, how do you think that will affect their opinion of your brand?
Measuring Page Speed
With that being so, you’ll first want to check your current page speed to see how it stacks up. We recommend using Google’s PageSpeed Insights as it features a number of useful tools for further testing and is relatively easy to use.
Simply, by entering your URL and clicking Analyze, you’ll have a readout of your overall score on a scale of 0-100, along with your individual page speed scores for mobile and desktop. It will also provide suggestions for how to improve your page speed.
What’s more, since it’s by Google, you can also use it as a way to optimize your pages and improve your SEO.
9 Ways to Boost Your Page’s Load Speed
Now that you know how important page speed is, let’s talk about all the things you can do to improve it.
1. Use a Quality Hosting Provider
Your site’s hosting server plays a big role in how fast it loads. Investing in quality hosting is one of the most valuable things you can do to improve your page (and website) speed for many reasons, the most important being your server’s technical specs.
If you choose to go for a low-cost, traditional web host that’s shared among a high number of websites, you essentially have to compete with everyone else on the server for resources. As a result, everyone is fighting over a small amount of bandwidth – which puts a major strain on your site, having to handle all those different visitors at once.
In contrast, a web host that uses cutting-edge hardware and software may run much faster than one that doesn’t and will be designed with speed in mind. Most of these don’t even provide shared hosting anymore since they know the value of providing you with your own resources.
2. Clean Up Unused Plugins
Plugins are great if you’re trying to extend the functionality of your site. However, they often come with many bells and whistles that you just don’t need. As a result, your page speed suffers when your site has to load all the extra resources each plugin provides.
Plus, plugins can often become a security risk because they’re not updated as frequently and may create a vulnerability on your site. Malicious hackers will look for these types of vulnerabilities to inject malware into your site.
So, what should you do? There are two solutions.
Firstly, reduce the number of plugins you have installed by either disabling or deleting them, and only use the ones that provide the most value to your site. Also, keep them updated as often as possible.
Secondly, attempt to identify the particular plugins that may be causing your loading speed problem. You can do this by disabling all of your plugins at once and then turning them on one by one and seeing whether your page speed improves (if it does, one of the plugins is likely the issue).
Tools like PageSpeed Insights can help you identify which plugins are impacting your site’s speed the most.
Following that, once you’ve identified which plugin is causing the problem, consider replacing it with a similar one that doesn’t slow down your site as much or trying an alternative solution.
3. Leverage Browser Caching
Browser caching is a feature available in most web browsers (like Google Chrome and Firefox) that stores resources your site needs on the device to speed up page loading, especially when visitors request them for the first time.
For example, every time someone visits your site, they’ll download all of the images, scripts, and stylesheets you use to display it. Then, for subsequent page views, your browser will use the cached version of these files instead of downloading them again, making for a much faster viewing experience.
To take advantage of this feature, you should enable browser caching on your server by adding a header to your site’s configuration file (usually located in the .htaccess file). There are many plugins that can help you do this as well if your website is a WordPress one.
4. Allow Page Caching
Page caching is another technique similar to browser caching that stores page content in memory for faster retrieval by search engine crawlers, users with bookmarks, and visitors who return to your site.
Mainly, caching web pages significantly reduces Time to First Byte (TTFB) because the cached version is served to all users instead of being regenerated each time. This means that your server will have to do less work and use fewer resources when serving your pages, which results in faster page speed for everyone!
To enable page caching, you can contact your web host and ask them to enable the feature (most web hosts will provide this for you when you upgrade to a high-end plan).
Alternatively, you can resort to modifying your .htaccess file (if you’re using Apache) or your Nginx configuration file (usually located in the /etc folder). You can also install a plugin like WP Super Cache if you’re using WordPress.
5. Optimize and Compress Your Site Page’s Images
One of the biggest things that slow down most websites and pages is images – especially if they’re not appropriately optimized for web viewing. According to the HTTP Archive, images comprise over 75% of a website’s total size. Crazy!
Accordingly, you have to remember that every image your site uses takes up space in visitors’ browsers and increases load time – especially if it’s bigger than it needs to be.
But you can fix this easily! Just optimize and compress your images before uploading them to your site. That includes possibly amending their file formats for optimal web viewing, allowing lazy loading, and reducing image sizes through lossless compression.
6. Minimize Redirects
Redirects are often used to fix broken links or take users to pages they may have missed. However, if not done correctly, redirecting too many URLs can slow down your site speed for visitors and search engine crawlers.
That’s because, with every redirect, your server has to process an extra HTTP request (aka do more work) and serve a new browser window or tab.
To avoid this, make sure you only redirect when it’s absolutely necessary – once from the old page location to the new one, and again in the opposite direction if needed. Otherwise, it could be time to reconsider your web architecture and find a solution that eliminates redirects completely.
If you’re unsure where or how you’re using redirects, you can use tools like Google Analytics and Screaming Frog to crawl your site and find out. These should allow you to identify all your redirects. Then, go ahead and delete the ones you don’t need anymore through your site’s .htaccess file.
But loading them asynchronously allows for faster rendering since the visitor can see a page while scripts are still being processed in the background. It also lets visitors go to other pages on your site without having to wait for those scripts to finish loading.
To allow asynchronous loading, you just need to eliminate render-blocking resources.
8. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Therefore, by using a CDN, you can cache your site’s static files and cached pages among chosen data centers and servers, which will reduce load times significantly.
This speeds up load times for repeat visitors since they don’t always have to download these assets from the origin server. It also means that your web hosting provider isn’t bogged down with serving these types of requests.
To start using a CDN, you can either sign up for a host like Amazon CloudFront, MaxCDN, Cloudflare, or KeyCDN – which are all affordable, or you can easily implement your own using open source options.
Minifying simply removes any unnecessary characters in code that aren’t required to be understood by the browser. This includes things like whitespace, new lines, comments, extra semicolons – anything you don’t need for it to function properly.
Minifying saves a website’s load time by reducing the number of bytes it takes to download resources from your server. And as mentioned before, this is how you reduce HTTP requests and speed up page load times.
The faster your page loading speed, the better for everyone.
By following these techniques, you’ll make sure that visitors get the best experience possible. And as a result, your website’s online presence will be enhanced, whether through higher SEO rankings, more traffic, or a more positive user experience at large.