Basic Tips and Tricks That Can Boost The Speed of Your Website

When people come across a slow website, be it a static page, a WordPress, Joomla or any other website, the first thing they think about is that their internet is slow. They never really think about the possibility that the website itself may not be loading fast. In this age where most websites are designed with content management systems (CMS) with lots of applications, modules components, plugins and widgets running on the site, failure to take steps to address a speed problem can reall cause lots of visitor loss.

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Why Website Speed is Important

  • It Reduces Bounce Rate

A test with Google reveal that up to 24 percent of visitors are lost when a web page takes about 6seconds to load. That means out of every 100 visitors, 24 visitors are lost as a result of slow speed. This can be very costly as the value of lost visitors cannot be predicted. To mitigate these loses due to slow website seed, you need to boost your website seed. The bottom line is that good speed will reduce your website bounce rate.

  • Speed is a Google Ranking Factor

One other reason you have to take speed seriously is because it is a significant Google ranking factor. According, to recent updaate by Google to its mobile search algorithm, speed will play more role in website ranking for mobile search.

Google has recently announced a major update indicating that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking signal for mobile searches. Page speed has been a ranking signal for some time, but only for desktop searches.

According to Google, "People want to be able to find answers to their questions as fast as possible — studies show that people really care about the speed of a page. Although speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches. Today we’re announcing that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.

Check the speed of your website with Google's Page Speed Insights tool and Google's mobile speed test. It's likely that your website has 'average' speed. If the Page Speed Tool shows that your website is 'slow', you should act now to avoid possible ranking losses

You will also want to read:

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WordPress Maintenance Tasks You Need to Perform Regularly

Useful Tips and Tricks for WordPress Search Engine Optimization

SEO Effects of Changing a WordPress Theme

A Guide on How to Reduce the Downtime on a WordPress Website

9 Common Problems of a WordPress Website

  • Impacts User Experience

Google is increasingly concerned about the experience of users in the assessment of website value. Page speed plays a significant role in how people relate with your website and enjoy navigation. Back in 2010, Google determined page speed was such an important aspect to how people experience a website and included it in their ranking factors which now greatly affect how your website appears in the search engine result pages (SERPs). Nearly half of all consumers on the Internet expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less; while the experts at Google believe an optimized website worth their top ranking should load in under half a second.

These figures are backed by countless studies that show page speed can lead to serious losses in transactions solely due to the extra time in which people become frustrated and abandon a purchase.

What Factors Determine Page Speed?

Generally speaing, html ages load faster than CMS websites. The average website owner may not be aware of why a page is not loading optimally. There are actually numerous factors that come to play and we will look at them in greater detail below:

  • Web Hosting

    Some web hosts actually run crowded servers and offer very cheap web hosting. If you are coerced by a cheap offer it could be the first mistake in regards to slow page speeds. Avoid this mistake by hosting your site on a fast server like Todhost!

  • Large Images and Poorly Optimied Images

Images account for reason some websites load very slowly.. If you manage a website, you need to distinguish between necessary resolution for print and screen based imagery. For most purposes 1000 pixels at 72 dpi should suite your needs. Larger file sizes can be compressed to strip unnecessary data.

  • Too Many Images

Despite optimizing your images it is a good practice to reduce the number of images on a web page as they actually affect web page speed signficantly. Use iamges lightly wisely and only when necessary. You may want to read details in an earlier post we did on image optimization for the web.

  • External Media

Videos are a great way to pass on messages and adding videos had been one way to keep visitors on a site for a long time and reduce website bounce rate. Videos have been known to produce more learning results than texts. So, embedding YouTube videos and other content is a great idea but make sure it’s only as large as you need it to appear in terms of frame size.

  • Not optimizing for certain browsers/devices

Optimization is a key aspect of your website performance which you need to take very seriously because your website will behave differently on every web browser and device and so must be optimized to be compatible with these browsers and devices. If your website does not work well with certain browsers, that can be a problem and can lead to devaluation on the search engine result pages. Remember that Google takes user experience vey seriously and want high uality website to rank top on its SERPs. Browser compatibility is a component of this quality assessment which you must take seriously to avoid any penalties.

  • Too many ads

Google has sounded it clear that it will penalize websites that run too many ads and the adverts affect user eperience, blocking users from understanding website content and having access to useful information when they visit. Too many ads can make your speed drag so only use them if they’re worth the extra processing.

  • Your theme or template

Themes or templates play very critical role in determining the speed of your website.. If you’re running a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress Joomla Drupal or any other site builder, the theme you chose may have complex coding which adds to your load times. Poorly coded themes can be a problem and when the theme is poorly coded, much of the efforts you put in to optimization won't produce the desired results.

Also read: SEO Effects of Changing a WordPress Theme

  • Widgets

The widgets powering your website also play a significant role in determining its speed. Some widgets can be coded very densely requiring significant processing power.

  •     Code

For content management sstems, there are complex coding involved. The back-end comes down to the coding and some are really very heavy requiring good optimization efforts. If your HTML or CSS is too heavy it will lower your page speed.

Test your website speed here with Gtmetrix!

 How Do You now if Your Website Is Loading Slowly

There are tools with which you can test your website that can provide a good guide to the issues that could be affecting your website negatively.

Our first recommendation would be PageSpeed Insights from Google. Page speed insights from Google is very important because it is Google that leads and the one everyone wants to impress..

The other is Google's mobile speed test For similar reason as with page insights, you need to use this tool to checkk your page speed and take action if our speed is poor. You also need to note that your speed will not always be excellent for every site. Even Todhost has some red flags because not everything can be fully optimized.

Some additional resources for analyzing your page speed include:

Page Speed Best Practices for SEO

In order to comply with Google’s Best Practices for page speed, it is recommended that you implement the following best practices:

  •     Enable Compression

Compression reduces the load time and file size. This is how compression affect your web page speed. When you click on a link and a web page comes up in your browser, there are a few steps which take place in order for that page to become visible to you. First, your browser sends a request to the web server.. The web server searches for the file and responds by sending that page to the browser. Once the user's browser receives the page, then it can be viewed by looking at his computer screen.

The faster these steps take place, the faster the page is loaded into the user's browser and the less time to wait for that page to “load.”

Web page load time is becoming more and more important to the search engines when it comes to determining how well optimized a website is..

This means if the page is very big it will take longer to load. But with file compression like GZIP, you can reduce the size of your web page files by up to 70%, which equals faster loading time. n the end equals better status with the search engines.

You can accomplish this by compressing the file before sending it to the user's browser. You can do that by using Deflate or GZIP or using zlib module.

  • Deflate ,GZIP or zlib module

Deflate is an option which comes automatically with the Apache server and which is simple to set up. GZIP on the other hand needs to be installed and requires a bit more work to install. However, GZIP does achieve a higher compression rate and therefore might be a better choice if your website uses pages which have a lot of images or large file sizes.

However, there has to be some caution. If your site has over 1,000 unique visitors a day, deflate is actually a better selection because it requires much less energy to compress files, which means your high volume of visitors won't slow down your site due to the increase in GZIP compression.

zlib module on the other hand does not need much installation and configuring tasks , but it should be enabled in your web server and your pages must be written in PHP.

File Compression with Deflate

Setting up file compression for your website will depend on type of server you use. If you are running on Apache, then you can enable compression by adding a few codes to your .htaccess file.

This file can be found by accessing your websites control and command (CNC) panel and is located in your main directory.
Then, you simply add the codes to your .htaccess file which will compress your site's files by types.

For example,add the following code if you want to compress all of the .txt and HTML files on your site:

<ifModule mod_gzip.c>
mod_gzip_on Yes
mod_gzip_dechunk Yes
mod_gzip_item_include file .(html?|txt|css|js|php|pl)$
mod_gzip_item_include handler ^cgi-script$
mod_gzip_item_include mime ^text/.*
mod_gzip_item_include mime ^application/x-javascript.*
mod_gzip_item_exclude mime ^image/.*
mod_gzip_item_exclude rspheader ^Content-Encoding:.*gzip.*
</ifModule>

  • Minify CSS, Javascript, and HTML

To minify your CSS is simply to make it smaller. This is a rather very technical aspect of site improvement and we recommend you do not attempt to tamper with codes except you really now what you are doing. If your themes are loading all that CSS and you are not using it, it makes sense that much of it can be deleted. That is what minification involves. If you have bought a theme from someone else, then you will have to ask what CSS is repeated for different customizations that you are not using.

  •     Reduce Redirects

Redirects are known to make sites slow. Using redirects a lot os not recommended. For us, instead of redirecting ever url that we changed or even folders that we renamed, we leave it for Google to detect that they no longer exist and remove them from the SERPs subsequently.

  • Leverage Browser Caching

Browser caching is one good way to speed up your website for repeat visitors. Each time your web page loads, it has to download all the web files to properly display the page. This includes all the HTML, CSS, JavaScript and images.

The large files take longer to load especially if your internet connection is slow or loading on a mobile device.. Because each file will make separate request to the server, the more requests your server gets simultaneously the more work it needs to do,

When you enable browser caching, some of these files are stored locally in the user's browser. On repeat visit, the page will load from the file stored in the user browser. This means the amount of data the user's browser will have to download will now be less and that can make your page load faster.

To enable browser caching you need to edit your HTTP headers to set expiry times for certain types of files.
On an Apache server, simply add the code below to your ,htaccess file:

## EXPIRES CACHING ##
<IfModule mod_expires.c>
ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType image/jpg "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/gif "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/png "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType text/css "access plus 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/pdf "access plus 1 month"
ExpiresByType text/x-javascript "access plus 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash "access plus 1 month"
ExpiresByType image/x-icon "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresDefault "access plus 2 days"
</IfModule>
## EXPIRES CACHING ##

Other Improvements that will speed up your web page are:

  •     Improve Server Response Time
  •     Use A Content Distribution Network
  •     Optimize Images - we have treated this extensively in the article on image optimization.

Now you now the basic steps to take to boost our speed.. If your follow these recommendations diligently, you are sure to enjoy more traffic from users and also to enjoy some reward from Google.

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