When your site loads quickly, website visitors are less likely to hit the back button and give you dismayingly high bounce rates. Because visitors are more likely to stick around, your site gets the chance to impress them and convince them to contact you. Your conversion rate increases, and you make more sales.
Along with the benefits to user experience and conversion rates, quick page loading gives you a powerful edge in search results. In 2018, Google announced that page speed is one of the direct factors influencing search rankings.
What constitutes a quick time for page loading? Ideally, the quicker you can get each page to load, the better off you’ll be for SEO and user experience. You should aim for the load time to not exceed three seconds; conversion rates tend to be highest with pages under two seconds. Strategies for speeding up your site include:
Streamlining your code
The process of minification makes your code more lean and your file sizes smaller, speeding up your site’s performance. This guide from the U.S. government discusses minifying page resources and recommends specific tools you can use for your site. There are also a variety of plugins designed to speed up your site through minification and other techniques.
Another issue is a reliance on too many files, such as an excessive number of style sheets. You may not need all the files you’re using, and it may be possible to combine some of them.
Reducing the amount of content loaded
When someone lands on one of your site’s pages, you don’t need everything on the page to load simultaneously. For example, images located towards the bottom of the page don’t need to load at the same time as images at the top. The bottom images can show up only when someone scrolls down to them.
Asynchronous or lazy loading means that you’re only loading the content or resources on your page when they’re necessary. There are different ways to implement lazy loading. One of them, infinite scrolling, is a feature that’s prevalent on social media. However, infinite scrolling may undermine your SEO by causing Google crawlers to miss content on your site. Other ways of implementing lazy loading can work better for SEO.
Other problems come up when your site is too cluttered or busy. The excessive use of videos, graphics, and photos may be significantly slowing you down. Unnecessary scripts may also be playing in the background whenever a page loads.
Optimizing visual content
You’ve taken beautiful photos of your work, showcasing your skill with construction and renovations. But how many potential customers will see these gorgeous photos if your site is too slow and your search rankings drop?
Similar issues come up with illustrations, graphics, and videos. You want to maintain a certain level of quality without undermining your efforts to reach quick load times.
Along with being highly selective of the visual content you display, you can use multiple techniques to optimize images. These include choosing the best formats, file sizes, and methods of compression.
Caching refers to a copy of your site getting saved so that it doesn’t need to entirely reload each time someone visits it. As a result, your site loads more quickly. As discussed in this guide for WordPress sites, there are multiple ways to implement caching, including plugins, caching systems enabled by your web host, and writing certain code.
Checking your web host’s resources
Your site gets hosted on someone else’s servers. Depending on the services you’ve purchased from them, hosting companies commit to providing your site with a certain amount of storage, bandwidth, and other resources.
To speed up your site, you may need to make changes to the hosting package you purchased. Another possibility is that your hosting company isn’t providing you with the quality and consistency of service that they promised.
Performing a site test
Even if you think your site loads quickly, shaving off another second or two can substantially improve your search rankings and your site’s conversion rate.
There are various tools for testing your site’s speed and receiving an analysis of what’s slowing it down. Two of the most popular ones are the Pingdom Website Speed Test and Google’s own PageSpeed Insights.
Be sure to run a test more than once. Also, you don’t have to rush to fix all of the potential problems. Focus on the elements of your site that have the strongest negative impact on speed. This is especially important if your load times are exceeding two or three seconds.