Slow loading times are more than just an annoyance to your website’s visitors. They can have a profoundly negative impact on your business as well.
In this post, we’ll talk about why slow websites kill business, and what you can do to speed yours up to improve your bottom line.
Why Loading Speed is Important
To see how a slow-loading site kills your business, we need only look at a couple of meaningful stats. According to an article in Entrepreneur, 47% of users expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less. After just 3 seconds of waiting, 40% of customers leave the site and find an alternative.
If your site suffers from poor site speed optimization, that’s nearly half of your potential customers gone before they even get started. Search engines are also aware of how users dislike loading times and will rank slow loading pages lower in their results.
10 Ways to Increase Your Site’s Loading Speed
Now that you know the importance of the website speed optimization process, how do you go about doing it? In this list below, we’ll cover the 10 major things you can do to get the best performance out of your site. This will include some general advice, as well as popular WordPress website speed optimization plugins that can help you get better performance.
1. Test Frequently
The first item isn’t a speed-up trick in and of itself but is still an important first step. To understand whether your website speed optimization has worked, you first need to have a benchmark to compare it to. Testing your website’s loading speed as you go throughout the process will help you ensure that your efforts are working.
2. Optimize Caching
Most modern content management systems have an option for caching. This allows your site to anticipate usage and cache that data while the user is reading a page, so it loads faster when called upon. Many CMS solutions, such as WordPress, have this option enabled by default. Check the options of yours to ensure that it’s enabled.
If it is, many solutions allow you to adjust the settings to cache more data. The WordPress plugin Hummingbird can help you manage your cache settings.
3. Reduce Image Size
Lossy image formats such as JPEG allow you to set the quality level when saving them. Some images will look fine at lower quality levels and will take up less space in the process. Even lossless image formats like PNGs can contain unnecessary data. There are plenty of plugins available, such as Smush, that will compress your PNG files further. They can often save a significant amount of data, allowing your image-heavy pages to load much faster.
4. Minify Your Files
This means including a lot of white space that doesn’t help the computer understand the file at all. Every space, tab, and line break is an additional byte of data that your visitors have to needlessly download before your page finishes loading. Hummingbird is also great for minifying text files on your site.
5. Reduce HTTP Requests
This may require a bit of technical knowledge, but it will drastically reduce the number of HTTP connections your site must negotiate before it loads for viewers.
While the site won’t be fully loaded until these files are downloaded, it will provide a more responsive feel to the website, putting the important bits in front of the visitor faster.
7. Limit Redirects
Every so often, we’ve all come across a site that sends us through a lengthy chain of redirects. Some are so bad the web browser will refuse to load the page, citing too many redirects.
While few websites have the problem that badly, there are still many out there that rely too heavily on redirecting the user to another page. Each redirect adds significantly to the time it takes for visitors to the site to even begin loading it.
8. Enable Asynchronous Loading
Ordinarily, a website will load each of the files it needs sequentially, one right after the other. Another great feature that many CMS products include is the ability to asynchronously load files.
With this option enabled, multiple files will download at once, giving the appearance that the site is loading much quicker and, again, putting important information in front of the user earlier.
9. Use a CDN
While internet speeds make it seem as though data is traveling to us instantaneously, it is bound by the same laws of physics as everything else. Barring other factors, data will reach visitors to your site faster from a server that is physically closer to them.
Content delivery networks (CDNs) take advantage of this fact by distributing your data across a wide range of servers is disparate geographic locations. That way, content can always be loaded from the server that will reach visitors the fastest.
10. Compare Hosting Providers
Finally, sometimes the problem with slow loading sites isn’t anything on your end at all. Your choice of hosting provider can make a profound impact on how quickly your site loads.
While you don’t have to spring for the most expensive option, budget hosting providers are often slower and less reliable. If nothing you do gets your site speeds to acceptable levels, consider trying a different host.
Site Still Slow?
If you feel like you’ve tried everything and still haven’t gotten the speeds you want, or if you simply don’t have the time to learn and implement all these new tricks yourself, consider using our website speed optimization services. Contact Nomadic Marketing today to get started.
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