Your website can feature the most persuasive copy and the most attractive graphics, but none of them would matter if your visitor leaves before your whole site has even loaded.
In fact, site speed is probably one of the reasons—if not the biggest reason—why you have high exit rates and low conversions on your website.
Statistics from Kissmetrics show that more than 47% of internet users expect a site to load within two seconds. If a website took four or more seconds to load, 79% of internet users wouldn’t even bother returning to it.
Pretty unforgiving, huh? You don’t even get a second chance!
Even your Google rankings can take a beating if your site loads slowly. Aside from the fact that Google’s algorithm uses page speed as one of the signals in ranking pages, it also reduces the number of crawlers it sends to your site if your loading speed is more than two seconds.
Needless to say, every second counts. A one-second delay in page response can reduce your site’s conversions by 7%.
So, if you’re making $100,000 a day from your e-commerce site, this would mean you’re losing $7,000 daily just because of that one-second lag. That’s $2.5 million a year!
It also works the other way, as a Walmart case study revealed that every second that they improved their site speed resulted in a 2% increase in conversions.
That’s why keeping your page loading at optimum speed is essential if you want to improve your website visibility, traffic, and conversions.
But how fast should your website be?
Google’s best practices recommend that you keep the size of your website below 0.5 MB for speedy loading time.
But let’s face it, that’s a rather lofty thing to aim for.
If you want a more realistic goal, Machmetrics states that the average size of a website is 1.966 MB for desktop and 1.778 MB for mobile.
So, if your website is larger than these, you might encounter a problem with your loading speed.
But fret not, because there are plenty of things that you can do to keep your site up to speed.
Check out these ten tips for a faster site loading speed:
Use tools to diagnose your site speed.
The first step to making your site faster is by knowing what your current speed is.
You can do that by using the following nifty tools that can help you diagnose your speed problems and eventually solve the causes of the slowdown.
Google PageSpeed Insights
If you want to measure your website’s performance on both desktop and mobile, look no further than Google’s very own PageSpeed Insights.
The great thing about this tool is that it provides a detailed description of your site’s loading speed on both desktop and mobile. It gives you a page speed score on a scale of 0 to 100, with 85 or higher being excellent. You’ll even see which parts of your site successfully passed the test and the parts that need some work.
PageSpeed Insights also delivers suggestions on how you can improve your site’s speed, and in turn, create a better user experience and boost conversion rates. It even specifies which ones are top priority so that you can implement the steps with the most significant impact first.
If you want to dive into the more technical aspects of your website, Google’s Lighthouse tool is your jam. It’s an open-source, automated tool that helps web developers improve a website’s quality and performance.
Lighthouse simulates real-world conditions as genuinely as possible, measures your site speed using 75 different metrics, and then gives you an overall score. Because of this, your website isn’t just fast—it also feels fast, at least based on user perception and experience.
Some performance metrics include latency, speed index, scripts execution time, and asset delivery. There are also metrics that deal with SEO, accessibility, progressive web apps, and best practices.
GTmetrix is a tool that’s easy to use, so it’s recommended for beginners. It uses information from YSlow and Google PageSpeed Insights to come up with recommendations to speed up your site.
With GTmetrix, you can customize your browser and physical location so that you can specify where your website is actually hosted. It provides you with a letter grade to show how well your site is loading. Plus, you can figure out precisely what makes your website slow and fix it.
It also sends automatic alerts that notify you if your site loading speed suddenly goes below a specific threshold.
You can use GTmetrix for free, or you can purchase a premium plan for additional functionalities.
Compress your files.
Which should you prioritize—high-quality images or page speed?
Quick answer? Both.
You don’t have to compromise the quality of your high-definition images in the name of page loading speed.
All you need to do is compress your files and resize your images.
ResizeImage.net is a simple graphic-resizing tool that you can use online. Most of the time, your site displays much smaller images than what’s on the actual file, so resizing them won’t affect their quality.
You might also want to convert and optimize your image files. PNGs are better for graphics with fewer than 16 colors, while JPEGs work best for photographs.
As for file compression, you can use GZIP. It reduces the size of your files by up to 70% without sacrificing quality.
Save your Java, CSS, and HTML scripts as external files.
If you know your way around your site’s back end, you can save your scripts as external files.
When you do this, your page doesn’t have to load your stylesheets every time a visitor clicks on a link.
Instead, you only need to load these scripts once for your website to work, dramatically cutting the loading time and allowing individual pages to load quickly.
No need to load all the hundreds of lines of code for every page!
Enable your cache.
Every time you visit a website, the elements on the page are stored in your hard drive in a temporary storage known as a cache.
When you enable your cache, your browser will be able to load a page that you have visited before without the need to send a request to the server. Thus, cached versions of your website load more quickly.
You can use plugins like WP Super Cache to save the latest version of your pages.
And don’t worry, updating your cache regularly ensures that the cached versions look and feel the same as the real-time versions.
Consider using a content delivery network (CDN).
If your site gets a lot of visitors, consider using a CDN to serve your pages and images.
A CDN allows you to cache your site on a global network of servers. When your website gets heavy traffic from different parts of the world, people get to download the files from a server that’s geographically nearby, reducing the load to your server and speeding up your site’s loading time.
Aside from faster page loading, a CDN also eliminates lags and latency issues.
Examples of CDNs you can use include MaxCDN and Cloudflare.
Use external hosting platforms.
Another way to improve site speed is to allow external platforms to host larger files like videos.
When multiple people attempt to watch a video directly posted to your site, it can result in lags and pauses. It gets worse if your server has a limited amount of bandwidth.
And you know how frustrating it can be to watch a video that buffers every five seconds, right?
So, the best thing to do is to upload your video on a third-party service like Vimeo, Wistia, or YouTube, then embed it to your site.
Do code minification.
Templated website builders often create a messy code that slows down your site.
By minifying your files, you’re removing unnecessary code, whitespace, characters, and formatting, making sure your pages are as compact and lean as possible.
Tools you can use to minify your codes are UglifyJS and CSSNano. You may also combine files using plugins like WP Rocket.
Clear up redirects.
Every time you move or delete a page, you run the risk of having a broken link. The most natural solution to that is to redirect your page.
But too many redirects can create additional HTTP requests and confuse your browser, thus negatively impacting speed—most notably on mobile devices.
That’s why it’s best to keep redirects at a minimum or get rid of them altogether.
For this, you can use Google PageSpeed Insights to know which redirects are active on your site.
Improve server response time.
The optimal server response time is 200ms.
But so many factors affect your server response time, like your site traffic, resources, server software, and hosting provider.
The amount of time your DNS lookup takes also affects your site loading speed.
Your DNS server is what translates a URL into an IP address so that a user can go to its online location. Think of it as a person looking up numbers in a phone book.
If you’re using a slow DNS server, that means it takes time for browsers to find your site. You better switch to a fast server to increase your site loading speed.
You can also look for performance bottlenecks like slow database queries, lack of memory, or slow routing. Fixing these can help improve your server’s response time.
Plugins are beneficial for your site. They can improve user experience, clean up your code, and add custom functionality.
But using too many plugins can also slow down your site considerably. They can even create security issues and cause crashes and other technical difficulties.
Clean up your plugins and remove outdated ones and those with duplicate functionalities.