Do you have a slow website and need to improve the loading speed to turn it into a fast website that will make Google and your users fall in love? How to increase website speed?
The importance of a fast website cannot be overstated.
Improving the loading speed of your website can reduce your bounce rate and increase the interaction of your visitors. But if you don’t understand how this measurement works, it will be difficult for you to make the necessary changes to improve the loading speed of your website.
This article explains precisely why loading speed is so important and what you can do to improve it yourself.
Why is it so essential to improving the speed of your website?
The loading speed can make the difference between a successful website and one that doesn’t reach your audience.
The reason is simple: nobody likes to spend time waiting for a page to load.
40% of users abandon a web page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
That means that having an excellent web design and improving SEO web positioning will be of no use if you do not have a fast web page. Many users will visit another search result before waiting for a slow web page.
Improving the loading speed of your website will also improve your SEO. This is one of the factors that search algorithms, known as Core Web Vitals that Google considers, so improving web speed will also improve your ranking in the results lists of web search engines.
Loading speed is also one of the elements of the user experience, which affects Google rankings.
What is a “good” loading speed of a web page?
Before you get to work on improving the speed of your website, it is essential to have a clear goal.
According to Google’s recommendations, a web page should take no more than 3 seconds to load. However, most web pages are far from that measure.
A web page should not take more than 3 seconds to load, although the reality is that the average oscillates between 7 seconds.
According to a Google study, 70% of the analyzed web pages take an average of 7 seconds to display their visual content. They also reported that the average mobile web page takes 22 seconds to load fully.
When a web page takes more than 10 seconds to load, the probability of leaving it goes up to 123%.
As you can see, the outlook for most web pages is far from ideal. That means that improving the speed of your website can give you a massive advantage over your competition.
How to check the loading speed of your website?
Before you start improving your website’s load, you should know its current state precisely. Many free online tools can help you do this, and these are the main ones:
PageSpeed Insights. This is Google’s option. It’s free, easy to use, and will give you recommendations. Another article discussed getting a good grade in Google PageSpeed Insights with WordPress.
GTMetrix. This tool will give you the extensive and detailed information. It allows you to evaluate the speed of your web page from different browsers and locations.
Pingdom Tools. This tool analyzes each element of your web page and tells you how much each one affects the speed of your web page.
Google Analytics. This tool allows you to review the loading time of each page of your website and the different elements that cause problems in them.
YSlow. In addition to measuring your loading time, this tool gives you tips on how to improve it.
How to increase website speed
Opt for a good hosting oriented to improve web speed
Many businesses start hiring a hosting server (web hosting) with a free or cheap hosting plan, such as shared hosting. As your business grows, these will become insufficient.
You will need resources dedicated only to your website to handle your new content. Consider options such as VPS (Virtual Private Servers) or dedicated servers, depending on your budget and the needs of your business.
Update the PHP version of your web server
Updating the PHP version is often seen as minor, but it can affect web speed.
Make sure that the PHP, along with your theme and plugins you use, is up to date. This will also help prevent security threats.
Optimize the database to improve web speed
Use a CMS or complex plugins. Your database will fill over time with information about users, reviews, trackbacks, deleted items and other elements that slow down the loading time. Clean your database regularly to avoid this problem.
Some plugins can help you optimize the process. Remember to save a backup before doing so!
Enable the web browser cache
The cache comprises files that the browser temporarily saves on the user’s hard drive. Enabling the cache on your web page will decrease the number of requests to the server that each visit needs to make, drastically reducing loading time.
Naturally, this only works with repeat visitors. Still, its effect is significant enough not to miss.
Enable Gzip compression of the webserver
Files compressed in ZIP format take up much less space than their original version. Therefore, enabling Gzip compression on your web server from your .htaccess file can reduce HTTP response times by up to 70%.
Gzip compresses your website files in ZIP format and automatically unzips them when someone visits them.
Enable the HTTP Keep-Alive parameter
Every time a visitor downloads a file from your web page, the browser must ask the server for permission. This process can take a lot of bandwidth, especially when you have a limited number of connections.
The HTTP Keep-Alive parameter, activated from your web server’s .htaccess, reduces this problem by maintaining an open connection between the browser and the server. This reduces the load on the server caused by download requests.
If hotlinking is enabled on your server, other web pages could link your media files to theirs, taking advantage of your server and adding more load to it. Avoid this by disabling hotlinking from your .htaccess.
Also, avoid hotlinking other images. This could slow down the loading time of the images, as the external servers could be poorly maintained or have crashes.
Avoid or reduce web redirects.
Each redirect prolongs HTTP response times, so make sure you keep redirects to a minimum to improve the loading speed of your web page.
Some plugins can help you find duplicate redirects. Avoid creating unnecessary redirects when building internal links.
Meanwhile, asynchronous loading allows many items to load simultaneously, which can improve the speed of the web page.
Minimize HTTP requests
Reduce the number of external scripts
External scripts include comment systems, pop-ups, external sources, social media plugins, chats, among others. Many of these scripts may be necessary for your page, but consider that each one puts a load on the server.
Use tools to analyze which ones increase web load time and consider removing or changing them.
Compress and optimize your web images
Compressing and SEO optimizing images can drastically reduce their size, thereby taking the load off your server.
Use web image formats that can compress images effectively, such as JPEG for photos and PNG for graphics, and make sure they are the correct size. Don’t let the website scale down; do it yourself in an image editor.
Install a Lazy loading system for images
Lazy loading is a technique that only loads the images on the screen, leaving the images that are not yet visible for later. This can reduce your server load significantly and is necessary on any image-centric web page.
Improving the loading speed in WordPress is more accessible in this sense since this CMS supports lazy loading natively, but it is easy to implement to any web page.
Host videos externally
Video files tend to take up a lot of space, and if a lot of people are watching a video that you are hosting on your server, web speed will suffer drastically.
Save yourself this problem by hosting your videos on an external service such as YouTube or Vimeo and embedding them on your website.
Reduce the number of typefaces used
Although web fonts have their advantages, they increase the loading time of web pages. Like other elements, they involve more HTTPS requests.
To mitigate this problem, choose the typeface for your website well, use fewer fonts, choose modern formats, and include only the styles you need to use.
Fix broken links
The most common is to find broken links in the sources of the images, which prevents them from loading. Use tools to search your server logs for 404 errors and customize your 404 Error page.
Choose an optimized content manager (CMS)
The CMS to choose is crucial to have a fast website. You shouldn’t worry about this if you use a reliable CMS like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla.
But if you use a lesser-known service or one created by yourself, do your research to make sure that you have chosen a suitable option and meet the SEO requirements for your website’s CMS platform.
Make use of previous search techniques.
Prefetching is the process of loading part or all of the other pages in advance.
If it is very likely that a user will click on a link after taking a specific action, you can load that link in advance to increase its loading speed.
Use a content delivery network (CDN)
A content delivery network, or CDN for its acronym in English, is a network of servers spread worldwide that send content to users of a web page.
The benefits of CDNs are manifold. This service allows users to load the content of your website from the server closest to them on the network, reducing latency and bandwidth usage.
Consider switching to HTTP / 2
The HTTP and HTTPS protocols are what allow connections between browsers and servers. These two are the most popular, but since 2015 there has been an improved version: HTTP / 2. This protocol has improvements that allow improving web speed.
Check if most of your users visit you from a browser compatible with HTTP2. If that’s the case, feel free to make the switch. It is a fairly technical process; it is best to talk to a web development agency.