Because you can alter how quickly your website loads, and if you aren’t aware of it already, the faster your website loads, the higher up the SERP you’ll be, meaning an increase in traffic to your site, and more conversions for you.
Don’t believe us?
As far back as 2006, 13 years ago, Amazon said that for each 100 milliseconds they shaved off their website loading time, they reported a 1% increase for their profits.
It was that simple. And still is.
For something as routine as a fast loading website, there is a lot of reward to be had, for not much work.
If you aren’t sure how fast your website loads try out WhichLoadsFaster (a loading speed comparison site that will compare how quickly your website loads, with how quickly your competitors’ websites loads). If you’re in the top grouping, well done. If you’re not, well, you’ve got some work to do.
Or to establish individual pages speeds, check out Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
As a rough guide:
- Below 1 second – awesome, you’ve nailed this
- 1-3 seconds – Ok, but still above average
- 3-7 seconds – users are pretty unimpressed
- 7+ seconds – they’ve hit return, life is just too short
In bounce terms that’s the equivalent of:
Why speeding up your website helps SEO
Quite simply, Google has indicated there are a number of factors that its algorithm uses to determine your position in the SERP, and one of those factors is website speed – or how fast the content on your web pages takes to load.
In order to assess your site, Google autobots have to crawl it, and if your site takes ages to load, the number of pages the autobots can get around are limited.
Because believe it or not, the autobots have a set amount of time they spend on each site. So if they’re still stuck on page one, waiting for it to load, whilst they’ve been all around your competitor’s site in the same time, guess who is on page one and guess who is relegated to page ten?
How website speed affects conversion
If you hadn’t put two and two together yet, here you go – if users have to wait ages for a page to load, they aren’t hanging around, they will bounce. Meaning no conversion because if your page takes this long to load, how long will the rest of the process take?
So what is it that is actually slowing your website down?
- Image sizes
- Number of redirects
- Server loading time
There are countless reasons why. So here are our pick of 10 easy ways to speed up your website.
10 easy ways to speed up your website in 2019
- Reduce the number of HTTP requests
Did you know that 80% of the time it takes to load a web page is spent getting all the different parts of the page downloaded?
An HTTP request has to be made for all of these individual elements, so the first thing you have to do is figure out how many HTTP requests your site has to make, and look to reduce that number.
It’s pretty easy to find out the number of HTTP requests. If you use Google Chrome, simply right click on the page you want to analyse, click on the ‘inspect’ tab, then the ‘network’ tab. You’ll see a table in front of you, similar to the one below.
Under the ‘name’ column, you’ll see all the files on that specific page that have to load. In the very bottom left hand corner you’ll see the number of HTTP requests that your site has to make. This is the number you want to reduce. Go through all the name files on the column and remove any that you think are superfluous to requirement.
- Don’t host your own media files
Use a content delivery network (CDN) to host your media files and you will instantly halve the number of HTTP requests your website makes.
These networks are a series of servers all around the world that cache your media files, so wherever in the world your visitors are, there are files stored locally to them, meaning faster loading times.
A free CDN to use to get you started is Cloudflare.
- Change your web host
Not all web hosts are created equal, with some being faster than others. There is a reason WordPress is universally loved, yes it’s expensive, but it’s fast. Sometimes you’ve got to pay for convenience.
- Combine files or shrink them
However, these files can be shrunk, or they can be combined. You shrink these files by removing any unnecessary code, formatting or even whitespace, including line breaks and indentations. Whittle your pages down so they’re as clean and lean as you can get away with.
If your site runs on WordPress, use a plugin such as WP Rocket to help you with this shrinking and combining process. The fewer the elements you have on your page, the quicker it will be to load.
- Choose to load your files simultaneously
If you’re using the WP Rocket plugin, go to the tab saying ‘Static Files’ and scroll down to the Render-blocking CSS/JS section. Then, tick the box that says ‘Load CSS files asynchronously’. Save changes.
- Use Expires Headers
Consider installing Expires Headers and take advantage of browser caching. If you have repeat visitors to your site, this plugin will work in their favour. Because Expires Headers lets a browser know whether it needs to request an HTTP file from the server, or whether to simply use an existing version of the page already cached.
Browsers cache a lot of information about a webpage, and so if a visitor has been to your site before, there will be all this existing information and versions of your site already there, cached, meaning a significant increase in website loading time, as it drastically reduces the number of HTTP requests.
Make sure you set the Expires Headers for how long you want information to be cached for. As a guide, if you don’t alter your website design frequently, a year is a suitable length of time.
- Choose a clean theme
When you’re building your website, opt for a simple, clean theme in the first place and you won’t have to deal with shrinking files and tidying up the site’s appearance, because it will be minimal to start with.
Plus, if you use a CDN from the off too, and host the site on WordPress, you will be miles ahead of the competition.
- Optimise your images and compress them
The great thing about WordPress is that there is practically a plugin for everything. And one of the most common ways to slow down a website is by including lots of huge image files.
So optimise your images to ensure they’re in JPG format and compress them using a plugin such as Smush.it, which reduces the size of your images, without altering their quality. Win-win.
Plus, you don’t need to run your images through the plugin everytime you upload new pics, the plugin runs in the background, ensuring nothing escapes its shrink ray.
Also, you can use it to reduce the size of all your images stored in your media library without having to remove them and start again.
- Cut down the number of redirects visitors do
If you have set up a series of redirects for your site, for example when you delete pages, or move content, everytime someone comes along, for every redirect you’ve set up, there are additional HTTP requests that have to happen, which slows the whole thing down.
Use Screaming Frog to help you identify all of the redirects you have on your site, and if they’re unnecessary, remove them.
- Clean up as you go
If you use WordPress it can quickly get cluttered behind the scenes, with saved drafts, deactivated plugins, old themes etc. Install a plugin such as WP Optimise that will clean up after you, speeding up your site loading time as it deletes anything that you no longer use, such as deactivated plugins as they take up a lot of bandwidth, despite not being in use.
Speeding up your website is one of the best things you can do for both conversions and SERP. Remember though, whilst these 10 tips will help speed up your website, you don’t have to do them all today. Start with one or two and monitor your site’s loading speed.
If you’re not sure where to start, run a speed test of your site and analyse where the biggest choke points are, and work on fixing those first. The rest can wait.