It’s no secret that Google is now using site speed as one of the key metrics in ranking your site. Usability is what Google is aiming at so users will be more satisfied to what search engines have given them. Patience is never an option in web pages. 1 out of 4 people abandon web pages that takes more than four seconds to load. Also, about 56% of website users wait for at least three seconds or less before abandoning a site. Which means that an increase of 1 second page load time can amount to about 7% loss in customers.
So let us get started. We have 2 parts basically.
- Analyze and check your current speed using a speed check tool.
- Make necessary modifications so that your site speed improves.
Part 1. Analyze and check your current site speed. See where you are now
We can get started with checking our current speed. Also after making necessary changes, we need to verify if speed has improved. We have 2 good tools for this purpose.
This tool is more than just page speed. It checks site readiness for mobile, smartphones, ipad, iphone and other tab devices along with desktop/laptop readiness. It gives you a total score with color codes. Recommendations in Red is high priority and needs to be fixed. Check your site speed using Google Page Speed Insights
GTMetrix is another popular speed checking tool that also gives you recommendations for improving your site speed. This tool is even better. It gives you a Page Speed score, YSlow score(tool from Yahoo for site speed check) and recommendations. Visit GTetrix
Part 2. How to Improve Your Site Speed
Keep it light
When you see that your page load times seems slow, blame it on how you use the elements in the page of your site. Go through your site and check for the following:
- Do you have to many CSS in your server? Are there unused CSS? Delete them.
- Are your images too large? Make it fit exactly the way you want them to see. For example you are showing a 800×600 image, only use that resolution. Don’t set it higher because it will tend to load slower due to browser rendering the image.
- If you are using wordpress, a wordpress plugin like WP Smush It can reduce image file sizea significantly and thus improve performance.
- Are you having excessive HTTP headers? remove it.
- Are you using too many plugins? Get rid of it if you don’t need it.
Use CSS Sprites
CSS sprite is a technique where multiple images are combined into one image and is shown to the users one part at a time using CSS. CSS sprites reduces the number of browser roadtrips to make the pages load faster. It may sound complicated at first but all you need is to visit a sprite generator site, upload pictures, and you’re good to go.
Don’t use CSS @import
The CSS @import function helps load external stylesheets to your webpage. Although it is a nifty feature, it adds more browser roundtrip times; thus incrases your web page load times. To get rid of the @import in your CSS simply replace it with <link>.
<link rel=”stylesheet” href=”style1.css”>
<link rel=”stylesheet” href=”style2.css”>
Avoid Unnecessary Redirects
HTTP 300 refers to a server redirect, HTTP 400 is an authentication issue and HTTP 500 is a server error. All these errors will cause unnecessary roundtrips for the browsers. Although HTTP 300s are avoidable, you should focus more attention on HTTP 400s and 500s.
Cache everything that can be cached
Gone are the days where you have to instruct your server what you need to cache and what you wouldn’t want cached because today, with the help of CMS, you can rely on third-party plugin for caching. These plugins can cache the latest version of your webpage to reduce the needs of creating a dynamic content during a repeat visit. If your have a wordpress blog, use a cache plugin like WP Super Cache
Best and smart way: Choose a high performance web host or a CDN
If all these procedure doesn’t make your site load faster, maybe it’s your server’s fault. If you want your page to load faster, simply switching from a better web host will make it work.
Host with a CDN: Hosting with a CDN(Content Delivery Network) service like MaxCDN can give high performance websites. A CDN can not only gives high speed website, but also can handle high traffic as well. MaxCDN is a popular CDN service and has plans starting at just $45 for first year.
Host with SiteGround, a high performance web host:
SiteGround is a stable and favorite web host among developers who are looking for high performance. Plans start at just $3.95 per month.