Here at LoudCrowd, we understand how integral it is for your website to be optimised for conversions. This comprehensive guide will teach you how to improve your website speed and explain how this will help propel your website higher up the search rankings!
Are you frustrated by your Google Analytics? Are you wondering why your website conversions are low? If so, it might be time to think about what action you can take to improve your website speed.
Generally, the average bounce rate of user visits is between 41 - 55%, meaning around half of all visitors are likely to land on your web page and leave. However, have you considered how your website's page load time and overall website speed can impact site performance?
Research has shown that 40% of visitors abandon websites that take longer than three seconds to load. Consider this with the average bounce rate - if the load time of your pages is too long you could be losing out on a massive amount of leads. Ultimately, this means less conversions and lower revenue for your business.
The importance of website speed and fast load times
If you are a small or medium sized enterprise, you may be underestimating the impact page load time can have on site performance, leads and conversions, and the part it should play in your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
Not only can your site's speed directly impact upon the user experience and bounce rate, web page speed and responsiveness has a massive impact on overall website performance.
Google and other search engines use algorithms that take speed into consideration when calculating the SEO rankings of websites, meaning it has become more important than ever to optimize your web page speed criteria to enable you to you appear on the first page of search results.
It is especially important for you to optimise your website for users of mobile devices. Google will give preferential placement to sites with a faster mobile page load time.
Mobile users want to access their information quickly and easy. If you cannot offer this, Google won't rank you highly in an effort to provide mobile users with a better experience.
Speed up your website now
Could page speed be impacting upon your website performance and hurting your bottom-line? LoudCrowd are here to offer you a quick yet informative guide to help you improve your website speed.
If you are not familiar with aspects of web development some of the content discussed in this blog can be quite complex to understand.
Wherever possible we will provide useful analogies to help you conceptualise key points. We make these approaches to speed optimisation so simple, you could explain them to a 10 year old!
Don't worry though! If you can't get your head around a particularly tricky topic, don't hesitate to get in touch with the LoudCrowd team and we will be happy to assist!
Website speed testing tools
Google provide two easy tools that you can use to conduct a speed test and measure your site speed.
Google PageSpeed insights
One free tool is Google PageSpeed insights which allows you to input your website's URL. From here, the programme will run a site scan and speed test to give you a quick overall score falling between 0-100.
As well as this, it provides suggestions for changes you could make to decrease load time and sorts them by priority so you know where to focus your efforts.
Another free tool you can use is integrated into Google Analytics. Following a speed test, you can discover ways to increase your website speed here and then track the extent of any improvements you make using statistics Google measures for you.
WordPress - an open source content management system - have developed numerous site plugins you can use to do a speed test and measure site speed, including MonsterInsights, IsItWP, and Lighthouse.
How reducing your number of plugins can improve website speed and performance
What is a plugin?
A plugin is a component of any website that adds specific features suggested by third parties. Unfortunately, the more plugins you install, the more resources they take up.
How can plugins negatively impact page speed?
If your web hosting package only provides you with limited resources, if you are using too many plugins, or you have a large build up of old unused plugins, this could be putting unnecessary pressure on the server, decreasing load speed. A large amount of plugins can also raise security issues.
Identifying problem plugins
Problem plugins can include those which run a lot of scripts, load multiple files or frequently generate database queries. These problem plugins can be identified by conducting performance tests on your pages and should be removed in order to optimise page speed.
How on-page optimisation and caching increases website speed
What is on-page optimisation?
On-page optimisation a.k.a on-page speed optimisation refers to the actions that can be taken directly on a website in order to improve the website speed and search rankings.
As discussed previously, your page speed matters. If your page load times are too long, you can expect a much higher bounce rate. This can cause you to lose leads and miss out on conversions.
Below are some techniques you can use to optimise your page speed.
Optimising images on your website
If images on your site aren't in an optimal format or the correct size, they could be having a significant impact on page speed and performance.
Converting image files into next-gen formats
Website imagery is a powerful way of conveying messages, so removing them can be a difficult decision. However, converting them into next-gen formats such as JPEG 2000, JPEG CR, and WebP help to compress images further without sacrificing quality. This way you get better content at higher speeds - have your cake and eat it!
What is minification?
Website code should be written so it is as compact as possible. Any unnecessary whitespaces, indentation, line breaks and comments should be deleted as they can slow websites down.
This process is called minification.
How does minification help increase page speed?
Whilst this will make website code harder to read on the backend, it will reduce the number of HTTP requests, helping the site to run much faster and improve user experience.
Add-ons and plugins can be used to make this task easier for beginners.
Clearing old media files
Overtime, it is likely that your media library will become cluttered with old media files that are no longer of use. Delete these, as well as any unnecessary image files to decrease your average site load times.
What is lazy loading?
Lazy Loading is a method used to increase load speed without having to delete of any of your resource-heavy content.
Examples of this content that can cause a web page to load slowly are high-resolution images - the additional quality results in a larger file size which puts strain on the server.
How does lazy loading work?
With Lazy Loading, the loading of non-critical information, resources, and objects is delayed until they are needed by the website user. For example, assets on the second half of a web page won't be loaded until the user scrolls down to view them.
What are the key benefits of lazy loading?
Lazy Loading images and video reduces initial page load time, initial page weight, and system resource usage, all of which have positive impacts on performance and will reduce the time it takes visitors to access your content.
How to implement lazy loading?
Lazy loading can be done using relatively simple coding.
When these changes occur, the code assesses whether any image files are in the user's view. If there are any in the viewport, it triggers the loading of the image.
A new alternative method of doing this includes the use of an intersection observer API, which operates in a very similar way.
Here at LoudCrowd, there's no room for procrastination. However, lazy loading is a similar idea. Delaying carrying out a task in order to save your energy or resources.
What is browser caching?
Web developers can enable browser caching to improve the users browsing experience.
How does browser caching help to increase page speed?
The advantage of browser caching is that the server needs to transfer much less data when a returning visitor comes back to the web page, reducing load time for frequent users.
This is the first time you've attempted to make lasagna.
What have you been missing out on!?
Chances are that you won't have all the required ingredients on hand in your kitchen, so you'll have to take a trip to the shops to buy them first.
However, the second time you make this meal, you will still have a large majority of the ingredients left over to make it for the second time without the need to waste a lot of your time shopping!
How the right technology and infrastructure can speed up your website
Websites are hosted on servers which store all the different components, elements and data which make up each webpage.
A server is run and maintained by a server hosting provider.
If you want to have a fast site speed, you need to choose the right server hosting provider for the needs of your website. Your site needs to be running on a reliable server, with good uptime scores and high levels of security.
There are multiple types of web hosting to consider.
Shared hosting is cost-effective and the ideal choice for small or entry-level websites. As the name suggests, your website will share a server with other websites.
This is ideal for most online businesses as not many sites need entire web servers of their own to run properly. However, the amount of resources you have is dependant on your agreed package with the hosting provider, so be sure to do your research.
The downside of this method of hosting is that the spike in traffic of another website which shares your server will often result in performance issues for yourself, for example, poor server response time.
Shared hosting can be compared to a house share scenario.
You and a bunch of other people are renting one house under a joint tenancy agreement. Depending on the size of the house and the amount of housemates you have, your routine could be disrupted.
For example, there could be times where you have to wait to use the bathroom in the morning, making you late for a meeting at work!
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
A VPS is a "server" within a main dedicated server or "bare metal" server. A VPS has containerised resources, and is in essence a mini server, built within a bigger one.
This option is best for when your website has outgrown a shared hosting package.
The main difference between a VPS and shared hosting is "root access" which allows developers to access all files on the server - shared hosting does not allow this.
A VPS also comes with more resources as standard than shared hosting, and as web developers have full root access, this means they have more scope to optimise the performance of the backend using software such as MySQL, Apache, Ngnix.
Whilst VPS hosting is a great option for those who need more resources and can't risk website downtime, it is often involves a more complex setting up process.
You can imagine VPS hosting as renting a flat in a large building.
You have your own self-contained space and more resources to yourself, however you don't own the full building and you still have to share certain facilities like car parking, laundrettes, and green spaces with other occupants.
Depending on the behaviour of other occupants, there could be times where your experiences are impacted.
A dedicated server is a single server, not shared with anyone else. The resources provided are always plentiful and available whenever they are needed as there are no other websites using the server.
Because of this, a dedicated server is one of the best hosting options for your website, allowing for the fastest page load times, the most useful customisation options and top tier security - the most optimal website performance.
However, there are huge costs associated with this hosting option. You will likely need a system administrator to set up the server, and optimise it in the same way as a VPS.
A dedicated server is perfect for large sites, who often have huge spikes in traffic, or high bandwidth usage as they often come with dedicated 1GB/s port speed to manage this.
You've made it - you've done so well for yourself that you can afford a mansion!
You have 6-8 bedrooms and bathrooms, a massive kitchen, a gym/spa, a wine cellar, an outdoor pool and even a home cinema. You have all the amenities and luxuries that come with the success of someone of your stature! Do with the space as you please.
We'd recommend a games room.
Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A content delivery network (CDN) is a network of nodes (the technical name for servers) located all around the world that work together to deliver your web content globally at lightning fast speeds.
Because the servers in the content delivery network are geographically dispersed across the globe, there's always one server in close proximity to almost all internet users. This works to cut down on the time it would take for your content to reach your user's browser.
A CDN will often use advanced compression techniques, such as minification, which help your content load faster (more on this later).
This offers better content availability and redundancy, allowing for heavier traffic without disrupting your site's performance. Many huge content-heavy sites that rely on super-fast load times, like Netflix, Facebook and Amazon, use CDNs.
A CDN shines when global visitors are accessing the site.
Imagine a visitor from Australia is attempting to access your website hosted in the UK, this request has to travel around the world, and then access content from the UK - this can be a very slow process which impacts upon your site's page load time.
However, when using a CDN, database queries are still needed to be sent to the the main server in the UK.
Supermarkets have a few huge megastores, but also scatter multiple smaller express stores across a geographical area.
Due to their frequency, express stores are often the closest options for most people. Both kinds of stores stock largely the same products, yet express stores allow customers to access certain items more easily and efficiently with less travel time required.
Reducing HTTP requests
The more on-page components, the more HTTP requests, the longer your loading times. CDNs can be helpful when trying to reduce HTTP requests as global nodes will store static files and content, meaning that they're ready to be requested by nearby users at all times.
The impact of a CDN
If you use a CDN, you can expect a dramatic increase in your site speed - a reduction in load time of around 50%. This could be mean the difference between a bounce and a lead conversion!
How can LoudCrowd help to increase your website speed?
At LoudCrowd, our creative team deliver bespoke web solutions that are crafted to deliver remarkable results and create harmonious experiences for your customers, generating valuable traffic and high quality leads for your business.
We don't mess around when it comes to SEO - we will complete a free audit of your website, identify how we can help you rank higher on all search engines and keep you there.
Let us do the hard work for you.
If you think you need to speed up your website, get in touch with us today and we will transform how your site performs and lay the foundation for online success.