As technology has made access to websites faster and more reliable, users don’t have as much patience as they once did. When a page loads too slowly, they’re likely to move on. A fast website creates a positive experience and increases the chances that a user will stay on your site and return later. It can also boost your search engine rankings, as Google takes loading speed into account when determining page rankings.
When building or modifying your website, you can take steps to make it load faster so that you don’t lose visitors and site rankings to sluggish performance. If you’re looking to reach maximum velocity, read on for Volume Nine’s tips to speed up your website.
1. Optimize images
Large images take a longer time to load. Adjust images to the page width at maximum and only make them as large as they need to be to fit your content. Do this using image editing software or online tools like Canva before putting it into your content management system or server. You can also use a compression tool like TinyPNG to reduce your image size before uploading it to your blog or website.
File type also matters, as some formats load faster the others. Images in JPEG format load fastest, followed by PNG. Use GIFs only for small, simple images or animated graphics.
2. Minimize plugins
Plugins can be incredibly useful, but they’re also notorious for causing site crashes and other issues. Keep the plugins you implement on your site only to those you need. If you have a lot of plugins, consider paring them down. Check your site’s performance before and after deactivating unnecessary plugins – you’ll see the difference!
3. Reduce redirects
Redirects increase load time by creating additional HTTP requests to load and navigate to the redirected pages. To improve site speed, only keep these in place for a limited time. Redirects are also useful for bringing mobile users from your main site to the version optimized for mobile. You can use an HTTP redirect and the link rel=”alternate” tag to send users to your responsive site in a speedier fashion.
4. Limit inline CSS
When writing the CSS markup for styling your site, consider doing the majority of it in an external file. Any CSS within your HTML page file (inline CSS) will slow load times and tends to be redundant. An external stylesheet loads before the page is rendered in the browser, making the impact on load time minimal.
5. Enable browser caching
Browser caching allows the visitor’s browser to store copies of the site’s pages to be called up automatically from the cache. The next time that person comes to the site, their browser already has the site components (HTML and CSS files, media, etc.) downloaded. The browser can thus display the page without having to send the server another HTTP request, vastly reducing load times. When enabling caching in your CMS or server-side scripting, you can set it to expire in a maximum of one year per the RFC guidelines.
6. Use file compression
Just like you might do with a set of files on your computer, website files on your server can be compressed into a zipped format to make them smaller. Large websites take a long time to load because of the total size of the files, which uses a lot of bandwidth. Employing a data compression tool like Gzip to compress the files can reduce download time up to 70 percent.
7. Take advantage of CDNs
The files of a website are stored on the server where the site is hosted. If web users were to access your site through that one server location only, site speeds are expected to be slower, especially in times of heavy traffic. CDNs – networks of servers located across the globe – solve this problem by allowing multiple points of access to your site. Web users can access a cached version of your site from a CDN server closest to them, speeding up load time and reducing the risk of the site crashing. Cloudflare, MaxCDN, and Google Cloud CDN are some of the top choices for providers.
Site speed is a key determining factor in how much traffic you get on your site. Don’t hesitate to try one or several of these tactics to improve your site’s performance to earn you more hits and better site rankings. Faster is always better, and you don’t have to compromise your site content to achieve it. Do you have more questions about how to speed up your website? Contact the SEO team at Volume Nine – we’re here to help!