Won’t you agree if we said that there is nothing more frustrating than browsing a slow website? Apart from the negative feedback from the end users, it affects the website owners in more than one way as it makes your site visitors turn away from you and go looking out for the product or service at your competitor’s website. It is hence very critical to speed up website.
Studies have shown that at least 47 percent of people want a website to load in less than two seconds. Nearly 40 percent of people could leave a website if it takes anything more than three seconds to load. Further, even one-second delay in loading page can reduce the conversion rate by 7 percent. Hence, all this will lead to a decrease of 11 percent page views and decrease in customer satisfaction of 16 percent.
It was not too long ago when Google announced that site speed will naturally affect page ranking. With Google being the most used search engine, website owners must certainly pay attention to the speed of their website. There are several things that can cause speed problems.
Listed below are 9 ways to speed up your website and get more customers.
Upgrade/get a good web hosting plan
Many business owners opt for shared hosting to save money. After a while, they add more content as their website grows because of which their sites slow down. This is when you need to upgrade your web hosting plan as this will allow you to speed up your website considerably.
Moving to a VPS (Virtual Private Servers) or other dedicated option is advisable if you have shared hosting. While both can make a considerable difference in the site speed, the best option must be decided depending on your business needs.
It must be noted here that VPS hosting uses multiple servers (it might come up to hundreds) for content distribution and hence is the best option. Being a scalable solution, it works best for small and medium-sized businesses and bloggers.
The advantage of having dedicated servers is that you get complete control and dedicated resources. There is no need to share anything including RAM, CPU, or bandwidth. Besides, dedicated servers have much higher bandwidth limits. However, dedicated servers are a lot more costly than VPS hosting.
Enable browser caching
In simple language, when a visitor visits your site for the very first time, they will have to wait until all the components are downloaded. Only then can they view the content on the page.
By enabling browser caching, you will be storing some data on a visitors’ computer for a brief period. By doing so, you wouldn’t need to wait for it to load the next time they visit your site. This way, you will be able to significantly improve your site speed, thereby improving the overall user experience.
It is best to add some code to the .htaccess file on your server to enable browser caching. Use the code listed below to the top of your .htaccess file.
## EXPIRES CACHING ##
ExpiresByType image/jpg “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/png “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType text/css “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType text/html “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/pdf “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access 1 year”
ExpiresDefault “access 1 month”
## EXPIRES CACHING ##
Reduce HTTP requests
80% of a web page’s load time is spent on downloading various parts of the page, like stylesheets, images, and scripts, as per Yahoo. How it works is that an HTTP request is made for each of these elements. So, it goes without saying that depending on the on-page components, it takes longer for the page to load.
It is hence essential to minimize your requests and for that, you must know how many exactly your site currently makes. On Google Chrome, the browser’s Developer Tools will show how many HTTP requests your website makes.
After right-clicking on the page you want to analyze, click first on ‘Inspect,’ and then on the ‘Network’ tab. In the absence of the ‘Network’ tab, expand the Developer Tools sidebar by dragging the left border towards the left.)
While the ‘Name’ column has all the files on the page, the ‘Size’ column reveals the size of each file. The ‘Time’ column will display the duration it takes to load each file.
The bottom left corner will show the total number of requests the site makes.
By reducing the number of requests, you will be speeding up your site. Go through your files and see if any of them are unnecessary.
Implement a content delivery network (CDN) if required
Compress your images and content
By now, you must know that your web page will load much faster if your files are smaller. But of course, you must be careful not to sacrifice the quality of the content and images. Pages with many images and other content can exceed 100KB in size because of which they become too bulky and slow to download.
The downloading time can be speeded up by compressing them. Use GIDNetwork to run a compression audit.
Enable compression by using Gzip, a method by which files can be compressed for faster network transfers.
The most popular method of enabling Gzip compression is by adding the below code to your .htaccess file:
mod_gzip_item_include file .(html?|txt|css|js|php|pl)$
mod_gzip_item_include handler ^cgi-script$
mod_gzip_item_include mime ^text/.*
mod_gzip_item_exclude mime ^image/.*
mod_gzip_item_exclude rspheader ^Content-Encoding:.*gzip.*
Images must be optimized to speed up your website
In order to speed up your website, one of the most important things that need to be done is to speed up the loading time of your images.
In order to optimize images, there are four things that need focus: scale, size, src attribute, and format.
Using an image editing tool like Resize.it, you can crop the pictures to a suitable size. For a page that is 600px wide, the image needs to be resized to that width.
Bigger image size takes longer to load. Hence, make sure that your images are as small as possible.
If you are on WordPress, use WP Smush to help reduce the image size. Another tool that can be used to resize the image manually before uploading it onto the site is TinyPNG. It helps to compress the image size by 20 to 90%.
Bear in mind the image format:
• Do not use BMPs or TIFFs as far as possible
• The best is JPEG and use it as much as you can
• PNG is good too, but older browsers might not support
• Use GIFs only for animated images, small and simple graphics
The next is to make sure that you have the right code.
In HTML, the code for an image includes this:
Without a source in the quotation marks, the browser makes a request either to the actual page or the directory of the page. This is likely to add an unnecessary burden on your server.
Assess your web plugins
Plugins bring with it new features and functionality to your website. However, the more the plugins, the more work it will have to load. Activating too many plugins affects the website speed, causes security problems and slows down your site.
Outdated and poor plugins tend to slow down website speed to a great extent. All of this can be fixed by assessing and evaluating your current plugins and removing those that are not functional or out of date.
Removing extra space, and unnecessary line breaks in the web page among others will help in downloading and executing. This is a very simple task that can help you cut down on a lot of data, thereby helping you to speed up your website.
Be careful of using Redirects since they increase the number of HTTP requests, which in turn increases the website load time.
In fact, Google does not recommend using redirects. It has instructed webmasters to reduce the number of redirects or get rid of them completely.
Redirect mapper tool will help you check for redirects on your site apart from being able to check your .htaccess file for redirects that were added years ago for content that is no longer existent.