Search Engine Optimization

How to Optimize Your Website Speed։ All You Need to Do

The website’s low speed affects the user experience and creates the first impression about your company.  Imagine visiting a website that takes forever to load. You will get frustrated, so the next time you will search for the competitor that offers a better experience. 

A high-performing website will increase your site’s return visits, conversions, engagement, resulting in higher organic search rankings and better user experience. 

Unfortunately, increasing your website’s speed is not as easy as it may seem. You will need to cooperate with developers, web designers or hire an SEO agency. But if you want to do it yourself or just want to understand how the process works, keep reading.

Tools to Use

Firstly, let’s start with the necessary tools.

Google’s PageSpeed Insights is one of the most reliable tools to firsthand understand your website’s performance. It shows a detailed report of your webpage’s loading speed. Please note that it doesn’t show your website’s overall speed, just the web page’s which URL you have imputed. You have to check all your webpages separately. If you have a big website with a lot of content and pages, it will be hard to run the test for each of them.

The interface of the tool is quite easy, you don’t need to register and it’s completely free. 

The results will show your webpage’s speed on mobile and desktop separately.

Below the results, you can see the acceptable speed ranges, where

  • 0 – 49 means your page is in a red zone and you need to work on it 
  • 50 – 89 means your website is in an orange zone and, although you are in an acceptable range, there is room for further optimization
  • 90 – 100 congratulation, you are the best!

 

If you scroll a little bit, you will see the issues that your website has and their general explanation.

Pingdom’s website speed test is a free tool that allows you to check your webpage’s speed by entering the URL. You will be able to analyze the results and get advice on how to improve your page’s performance.

pingdom
WebPageTest

With WebPageTest you will perform advanced tests and get detailed analysis, an overview of the page structure, waterfall charts and more. Although the interface is a little bit complicated, it’s one of the best tools to check your website’s performance. I highly recommend using it and then comparing its results with the other tools mentioned in this article.

Gtmetrix

GTmetrix offers two versions – the basic version is completely free and you can get access to a premium plan.

This tool provides you with enough information to analyze your site’s performance and make improvements to increase your speed.

Expert Opinion

It’s a good practice to check the speed using all the above-mentioned tools. This will help you to better understand what’s going on with your website. Please note that different tools calculate the website speed using different methods, so you will get different results and numbers. Just analyze the collected data and try grouping them.

Attention Please

If you are not a developer, before starting to delete EXTRA/NOT USED JS/CSS/HTML code, please contact your developer and try to understand how the action will affect your website. The tools merely give you recommendations but they can’t actually know what parts of your script are useless or if they are useless at all.

Be Aware

Please note that website speed optimization can impact your website’s design and interactiveness. Which, in turn, can affect your visitors’ user experience.

What Are the Key Steps in Boosting Your Website’s Speed Metrics?

Use CDN (Content Delivery Network)

Your website’s speed depends on your server’s and user’s location distance. The farther away the users are the greater is the time needed to process the request and because of this, the load time increases. 

When using CDN, the nearest server will serve users’ requests. CSS and JavaScript files, images and fonts will be delivered to your visitors quicker and your website will load faster. 

 

You can choose a free CDN or try the paid ones with more benefits and functionality:

Optimize Web Caching

Caching is the process of saving the current version of your website in temporary storage to present it as fast as possible when required. This solution is one of the best ones for the website’s fast loading speed. But be aware that it will cause issues if you have a dynamic website or provide real-time services.

Be careful when implementing caching, because if done wrong, the user will keep seeing the older version of your website.

 

If your website runs on WordPress, you can use one of the following plugins:

Choose a Faster Host

When building a website, the first thing you do is buy hosting. If you don’t have money to invest in your website and want the cheapest options for everything, you will probably choose shared hosting.  But keep in mind that this way you will share your space, your CPU and your RAM with other sites. It’s like renting a home with numerous other people. Although it’s a cheap and fast way to push your website live, your website’s load speed will depend on it greatly. If the other websites have high traffic, then your website will load slower and slower. 

Although many people advise buying premium hosting, I understand that there may be circumstances when you just don’t have enough funding for that. So, I would advise you to start with shared hosting and only after promoting your website and growing your traffic switch to a premium one.

If you have enough money, go with VPS (Virtual Private Servers). In this case as well, you share your hosting with other websites, however, you have your private virtual server where you will not be affected by other websites’ traffic spikes.  

If you can afford to invest sufficient money into your website to make it one of the best, my advice is to choose a dedicated server. In this case, you pay rent for your own server and hire a system administrator. Although it is quite expensive, you will have your own space.

Optimize Images

Images are a vital and most interactive part of your website that affect user experience. However, high-quality images will greatly decrease your website’s speed. 

Many websites use only high-resolution images even when it’s not necessary. 

Please note that for eCommerce websites the conversion rate depends on the amount and quality of product images. 

So, what can you do to optimize your website’s speed but keep it interactive at the same time: 

 

  • Add Images of The Right Size

Add the exact image size or maximum twice as large as your website’s design requires. The best thing that you can do is just crop your image before uploading it. Don’t add an image that is too large and then set the desired width size. This will slow your loading speed because your website will load the full image and then resize it.

 

  • Compress Images

Compress all your images before uploading them to your website. And when I say all images, I mean each and every image you have on your website. You can use online compression tools like:

 

  • Lazy Load Images

Use lazy loading practice – it’s when an image is not downloaded until a website’s visitor scrolls down to see it. A great way to do this is by adding a very low-resolution image as a placeholder and then loading the original one when a user scrolls. 

For a WordPress website, you can use its native browser for lazy loading images or add plugins like the free Lazy Load plugin or WP Rocket.

Reduce the Number of HTTP Requests

HTTP request happens when a web browser requests information from your server. When there are too many HTTP requests, your website loads slower. Check your developer tools to understand how many requests your website makes and try to reduce them:

  • Reduce clutter
  • Simplify your website’s design
  • Decrease the number of unnecessary redirects
  • Fix broken links

 

Keep your website as clean and neat as possible.

Optimize CSS and JavaScript

Extra CSS and JavaScript codes make your website heavier and slow it down, affecting user experience and your website’s accessibility. Here are a couple of ways to optimize your static files:

  • Remove whitespaces
  • Remove comments
  • Shorten functions and variables names
  • Reduce line breaks
  • Remove unused code
  • Combine separate CSS and JS files

Implement Gzip Compression

Gzip Compression is a fast and effective way to minimize the size of your website files up to 70%. It compresses the files/data before sending it to the browser. A browser then unzips the files to present the content to the user. If you want more detailed information, check the detailed article about enabling GZIP compression.

Reduce the Number of Redirects

If you are an SEO, developer or website owner, you already know that sometimes it is not possible to avoid redirects. Sometimes you need to migrate whole websites. This leaves you with tons of redirects and redirect chains which create extra HTTP requests and negatively impact your website’s load speed and SEO efforts. So, you need to identify the redirects that are necessary and the ones that may cause more harm than good.

Optimize Database

Your website’s CMS may store “garbage” content like outdated posts, comments, draft pages and other unimportant data within a single database. With time the database gets loaded more and more, which causes slow query time. Removing this useless data is an effective way to increase your website’s performance. Another option is migrating to a faster database system. 

If your website is running on WordPress, consider using plugins.

Reduce the Use of Custom Fonts

I know, I know we all want our websites to be the most amazing ones with outstanding designs. We want to use different fonts to highlight certain parts of our web pages to catch the visitors’ eyes. But too many font types may affect your website’s performance. So, what you can do is:

  • Compress or convert the fonts to a more efficient format
  • Only keep the characters that you are going to use
  • Choose the needed styles
  • Understand the benefits and the negative impact 

404 Errors

Too many 404 errors will negatively affect your SEO and may slow down your website. Make sure you detect 404 errors on your website and correct them. If they drive traffic, consider setting redirects.

Use Prefetching, Preconnecting and Prerendering

Optimize your website’s performance by suggesting to the browser the recourses needed for rendering the page. Here is what we can do: 

  • Prefetching – decrease the waiting time by loading a resource before it is required.
  • Preconnecting – the browser sets up early connections before even an HTTP request is sent to the server.
  • Prerendering – speed up your web surfing experience by preloading all elements on the web page to prepare for a web crawler.

Defer JavaScript Parsing

Let your HTML load first before executing the JavavaScript file. This way the large and heavy JavaScript files will load only after other on-page elements are loaded – allowing your website to load without delay.

TTFB (Time to First Byte)

TTFB is the time between the moment the browser requests a page and when it receives a response from the server. It’s a very important metric, as it impacts the website’s overall loading time and performance and, as a result, affects LCP (Largest Contentful Paint) – one of the Core Web Vitals metrics. The most common reasons impacting your TTFB are:

  • network issues
  • dynamic content creation
  • web server configuration
  • traffic

 

You should reduce TTFB to improve your web page’s load time.

Reduce DNS Lookups

For improving your website’s performance, you should reduce DNS lookups:

  • Use a faster DNS provider
  • Use ANAME records and CNAME flattening
  • Change TTL values 
  • Optimize DNS caching

 

If you want to learn more, check what is  DNS

Flash of Invisible Text (FOIT)

When the browser loads a web page, the text content can be ready before the used fonts are fully loaded. As a result, your text may be invisible to visitors, who will only see a blank page for a little while. To prevent this issue, you should։

  1. preload web fonts
  2. use font-display attribute  
  3. For Google fonts use &display=swap parameter at the end of the font URL.

Takeaway

Congratulations, you’ve made it and you survived! I hope you found this article insightful.

If you want to dive deeper into SEO and learn more, read these articles:

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Narine

Narine

Narine Nazaryan is a digital marketing specialist with more than 5 years experience in the field and more than 10 years experience in the banking and finances spheres. She is an obsessed reader and content writer. Her hobbies include coding, astronomy, physics and following the latest scientific discoveries. As it is obvious from this short bio, she doesn’t like bragging at all and is a very modest and pleasant person.

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