Best Website Speed Optimization Tips and Tricks
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Website speed optimization is crucial for creating a positive user experience. A positive user experience is marketing speak for happy users. Happy users visit your site and buy things. Unhappy users leave because they are tired of waiting for your website to load. Marketers call this “bounce rate” but really, it’s just unhappy users.
Why is site speed so important?
In the early days of the web, our mantra was “Content is King”. These days, if content truly is King, the Queen is speed. They go hand-in-hand. The best content or even product or service in the world won’t get noticed on a slow website.
User experience (Usability)
As we said above, a slow website can lead to a poor user experience. This can cause visitors to leave the site and potentially lead to a high bounce rate. A fast website, on the other hand, leads to a better user experience, which increases user engagement. When people don’t have to wait for the page they want to read to slowly load, they are more likely to stick around and read it. If that page is selling them your widgets, then they are more likely to buy them because they read your page.
Ranking Factor (Visibility)
Search engine algorithms have taken into account website speed for a few years now. All things being equal, if you have two websites that have equally good content on a given topic, the faster one will rank higher. Additionally, a faster website can lead to a better user experience, which can also have a positive impact on SEO.
All search engines have announced that they now use website speed as a ranking factor for their mobile search results as well. This means that a website that is not optimized for speed may rank lower in mobile search results than a faster website, which could lead to a decline in both traffic and revenue.
Website speed optimization is critical for your business if your users are primarily mobile.
Conversion (for E-commerce sites)
When a website is slow, users may become frustrated and abandon their shopping carts, leading to lost revenue for your business. A fast website, on the other hand, can provide a seamless shopping experience, which will increase conversions and ultimately drive more revenue.
Amazon is famous for computing the price of a second of load time. The slower their site loads, the less they sell and they know exactly how much. You may not be able to calculate your loss like that, but you will see that when you optimize your website’s speed, your sales will increase.
In summary, if you aren’t getting the page views you think you should be, maybe it’s time to look at optimizing your website speed. Optimizing your website for speed can lead to a better user experience, improved search engine rankings, and higher revenue. Here are our best website optimization tips and tricks:
How to check the performance of your website
There are many good tools on the web to help you compute your website’s speed so you can tell if your site is running fast or not.
SiteGround Optimizer Plugin and Google PageSpeed
One of the best tools for measuring website speed metrics out there is Google PageSpeed. There are several tools you can use to increase your site’s PageSpeed score, my favorite is the SiteGround Optimizer plugin. I have it installed on almost all of my WordPress sites and using it, my Google PageSpeed score is only a couple of clicks away. If you already have SiteGround Optimizer installed, then just click on the menu and select “Speed Test”. If you don’t yet have SiteGround Optimizer installed, it’s free and works even if you don’t host with SiteGround.
As a bonus, if your score isn’t as high as you want it, SiteGround Optimizer will help you increase your score. After implementing the suggestions, SiteGround Optimizer had for one of my graphic-heavy sites, this is my Google PageSpeed score.
Yeah, that’s not bad at all.
The other tool I’ve been using for the past 10+ years is webpagetest.org. Whereas Google PageSpeed boils everything down to three easy-to-understand numbers, if you want to dig into the details, you need a tool like webpagetest.org. It gives most website owners more information that is easily digested, but if you spend the time to learn what the numbers mean, they can give you some deep insights into why your website loads the way it does. webpagetest.org also lets you configure things like desktop vs. mobile, where you are testing from, etc.
6 Undisputable Website Optimization Tips
Now that we’ve discussed why website speed optimization is so important, let’s talk about six things you, as a non-technical site owner, can do to make sure you are running at optimal speed.
Achieve lightning-fast loading times by choosing the right host
Choosing the right web host is one of the most important factors in website speed optimization. It is also the first decision you need to make. Honestly, if your host is slow, none of the rest of these optimization tips are going to make much difference.
Choose a website theme that won’t weigh you down
If your site uses WordPress, the theme you choose for your WordPress website will have a significant impact on its speed. A well-designed and optimized theme can help improve website speed and performance, while a poorly designed theme can have the opposite effect.
All themes can stand to lose a little weight, even the best ones. So to help your site reach its maximum speed, make sure that you have SiteGround Optimizer installed and configured. As discussed above, it can really make a difference in your site’s overall speed.
When choosing a theme for your website, it’s important to consider things like code quality, graphic sizes, and support.
A well-coded theme will be lightweight, use minimal resources, and be optimized for speed. It is important to choose a theme that is coded to the latest web standards, WordPress standards, and has been reviewed by other users.
All themes will let you use your graphics, however, some work with plugins to optimize graphic size, while others do not. If you choose a theme for your website that does not automatically optimize the graphic sizes for speed, all is not lost, you can install the SiteGround Optimizer plugin. It will not only optimize all of your existing images, but will automatically optimize any new graphic as you upload it.
Support and updates
A theme that is regularly updated and supported by the developer can help ensure that your website stays optimized. As technologies change, you want to make sure your theme changes with them to ensure it is always the fastest that it can be.
If you have a WordPress website, hosted with SiteGround, you benefit from their in-house WordPress Autoupdate feature, which automatically backups and upgrades your site each time there is a new WordPress version, along with all of your plugins, if you wish so. That helps you avoid vulnerabilities related to the old application, and you’re up to date with the latest security fixes.
Choosing the right theme is just one part of website optimization. You’ll still need to do things like minify code, and use caching to help improve website speed.
The theme you choose for your WordPress website can have a significant impact on website optimization. By considering the factors mentioned above, you can choose a theme that is well-designed, optimized for speed, and will provide a better user experience for your visitors.
Trim down unnecessary plugins
In the past, I’ve written about removing unused or deactivated plugins. One of the main reasons to do this is speed. The less code there is, the faster your site will run. Even disabled plugins force WordPress to decide between them at each page load. If you delete them, WordPress doesn’t need to worry about them.
Once a year – or more frequently, if possible – you should do a complete audit of the plugins installed on your site. Deactivate and delete any that are not actively being used. If you need them again later, then reinstall them later.
Remove unnecessary redirects
Redirects will affect website speed optimization.
They add an additional step to the page load process, which can increase the amount of time it takes for a page to load. This will negatively impact the user experience and website speed.
Search engines follow redirects to find the final URL of a page. When search engines crawl your website, they follow each redirect, which can slow down the crawling process and affect your website’s SEO. Additionally, redirects can cause the search engines to see the redirecting page and the final page as two different pages, which can lead to duplicate content issues and affect the website’s SEO.
Redirects can be confusing for users and will lead to a poor user experience. If a user clicks on a link that redirects them to a different page than they expected, they may become frustrated and leave the website.
Redirects can be useful in certain situations, such as when a web page has moved or is no longer available, or when you want to redirect traffic from a non-preferred domain to a preferred domain. In these cases, it’s important to use the correct type of redirects and to minimize the number of redirects used to maintain website speed and SEO.
To avoid the negative impact of redirects on website optimization, it’s important to use them sparingly and to use the correct type of redirect. Additionally, implementing a proper redirect strategy and keeping track of the redirects that are in place can help to minimize the negative impact on website optimization.
Cache your way to faster load times
Caching can have a positive impact on website optimization by improving your website’s speed and performance. Caching is the process of storing a copy of a web page or its resources, such as images or scripts. When a user visits a website, their browser can load the cached version of the page, which can reduce the amount of time it takes for the page to load.
Caching can be implemented at different levels, such as browser caching and server-side caching. Each type of caching can have a positive impact on website optimization.
When a user visits a website, their browser stores a copy of the web page and its resources on their device. When the user visits the website again, their browser can load the cached version of the page, which will dramatically reduce the page’s load time.
If you’re using the SiteGround Optimizer plugin for WordPress, available for free download on any hosting platform, you can use the browser caching option it provides. This feature stores the static content of your website in the users’ browsers and cache longer. If you’re a SiteGround client, this option in the plugin will be enabled by default for you.
Server-side caching can reduce the amount of time it takes for a page to load by storing a copy of the page on the server. When a user visits the website, the server can deliver the cached version instead of having to regenerate it each time. This will reduce page load time.
If you’re hosted with SiteGround, you already take advantage of their powerful caching technology – SuperCacher which includes three levels of server-side caching:
- NGINX Direct Delivery
- Dynamic Cache
Dynamic cache caches your dynamic content and stores it in the server’s RAM
An object caching mechanism designed to improve the connection between your application and its database
When all these three are in action, they improve your website performance up to 5 times!
Speed up your site with CDN
A good CDN, or Content Delivery Network, is a critical next step for optimizing your website’s speed. A CDN is a group of servers in different locations around the world that work together to deliver your website to users faster by delivering large files from servers near your users.
When a user visits your website, the CDN will direct them to the server that is closest to them. This can help reduce the distance between the user and the server, which will improve website speed.
CDNs also help to reduce the number of requests made to your server, which can help to improve website speed. This is because CDNs can store a copy of your website’s files, such as images and videos, and deliver them to users without having to request them from your server.
The less work your server has to do, the faster it will do the work only it can do.
Using a CDN will help to improve the website’s speed and that will create a better user experience for your visitors. It’s a great option to consider if you want to optimize your website and reach a global audience.
You can use a third-party CDN, which will take some time and extra knowledge to configure. Alternatively, you can ask your host to help you select one and then pay them to configure it. A better option is to use SiteGround’s native CDN. SiteGround has a one-click CDN that is already integrated and configured for your site. They offer the essential features free for all customers hosting websites on their platform. For those needing more, they offer a premium version for heavy international traffic websites.
Entire books have been written on the topic of optimizing a website’s speed. In this article, we’ve taken a look at why it’s important, discussed some tools you can use to see how fast your site is now, and then six things you can do without the help of a programmer to speed things up.
It is important that before you start tinkering with your website to optimize it, you check its speed first. Then, do one thing at a time and after each change you make, re-test. This is the only way to tell for sure that you are making things better and not worse.