Since 2010 Google has used site speed as a ranking factor, and in 2018 page speed became a ranking factor for mobile devices as well.
Page speed isn’t something that you need to obsess over because it only will negatively affect your SEO efforts if your site has an extremely low speed. But, when it comes to user experience, faster loading pages is an important factor.
Specifically, website conversion rates drop by 4.42% with each additional second of load time. So, if you want to use page speed to increase your conversion rate, pay attention to the quick and easy steps I’m going to show you.
Let’s get started!
How to Test the Speed of Your Website
The first step is to set up a benchmark of what a good site speed is and make the test to see how your website performs. A good rule of thumb is to aim for a loading time of below 3 seconds.
Go to gtmetrix.com and put your website, or the specific URL that you want to test out the speed. This site will show you how long your website takes to load.
Now that you know the speed of your website, let’s dive into how you can improve it.
1 - Things That Can Slow You Down
The first thing to keep in mind when working to improve your website speed is having a framework of all the things that can possibly slow down your website.
The first thing is your web hosting. When your web hosting services are not properly configured, it can hurt your website. So, it’s important to make sure that you have a reliable and fast hosting service.
The second factor is your images. The bigger the images the longer they take to load. You need to compress the image file without losing the image quality.
Using a lot of plugins and bad plugins can also slow down your website a lot. Some people’s websites look like a festival of plugins because they have so many of them.
Especially if you’re a beginner, you need to think twice before installing a new plugin. Only install it if it’s something that you really need. Adding too many plugins to your website will slow it down quite a lot.
Additionally, plugins are the number one way that hackers use to attack websites. Always make sure to delete plugins that you’re not using and avoid using shady plugins.
2 - Get Reliable Web Hosting
Web hosting is the backbone of your website. Usually, beginners choose to use shared hosting, which is the slowest form of hosting available.
Although shared hosting can get your website a bit slower, I do think that it is a good choice for beginners. If you’re starting a brand new website, don’t be afraid to go with shared hosting. My goal here is just to highlight that web hosting is a factor that influences site speed.
If you have a more established website that is already making money, it’s a good idea to use dedicated hosting.
Overall, my advice is that you start your website with shared hosting and when you start to make money and when your website starts to grow, you can move to a dedicated hosting plan. Flywheel and WP Engine are some of the most reliable web hosting providers on the market.
3 - Add a Caching Plugin
A caching plugin creates a static HTML version of your website. This means that every time someone visits your website, the caching plugin will create a replicable version of your website. The plugin creates copies of your website so that the servers don’t need to reload every single time a visitor comes to your website.
This is particularly important if you get a lot of traffic. Adding a cache plugin will save you time, it will not overload your server as much, and users will have a much better experience. A free plugin that works pretty well is WP Supercache.
4 - Optimize Your Images
Images and video content are really heavy. Oversized images can tank your website speed. Especially on mobile. So, you need to compress your images without losing quality.
I like to use the plugin Shortpixel to do this. Shortpixel removes image size a lot, sometimes reducing it by over 50%. In their free plan, you get 100 images compressed per month, which should be enough for a brand-new website.
After you install it, it’s important to change a few general settings. First, select Glossy as your favorite image type, this will give you a good balance of compression and quality.
Now, go to the advanced settings and tick the box “Also create WebP versions” and the box “Automatically convert the PNG images to JPEG if possible”.
Now you are ready to go. You don’t need to worry about your images anymore.
5 - Use a CDN
CDN stands for content delivery network. The goal of CDN is to make your website load from the country your user is accessing from. For example, if you use United States hosting, when someone accesses your website from India, your website will load from a server from India, if you use CDN.
The CDN works by taking your files that are hosted in the United States or another country and putting them into servers all over the world. In this way, it will pick the closer server to show up the data to the user.
It basically works by creating several versions of your website and spreading those versions all over the world to their servers. As a result, users around the world don’t need to access your specific server in your specific country. They can access a website version that is closer to their region.
You only need to worry about CDN if your website has a global reach. If you have a local business, CDN isn’t something you need to implement. Check out if your hosting services offer a CND or you can choose to use Cloudflare. Cloudflare is great and it’s free.
6 - Add Lazy Loading to Your Website
Lazy loading allows your website to only load images when the users scroll down to that specific image. If the user doesn’t scroll down, the website will not load the images. By not loading the images that users can’t see, your website speed will improve a lot.
This is particularly relevant for long pieces of content, such as 5,000 and 10,000 words. In this way, your website doesn’t need to load the whole page before someone starts reading the content. It will load section by section, as quickly as possible. In this way, people start reading, and as they read it, more information is loaded.
Today you learned how you can test your website speed, and that your page loading time should be below 3 seconds. You also learned how to improve your website speed with 6 tips, which are:
- Things That Can Slow You Down
- Get Reliable Web Hosting
- Add a Caching Plugin
- Optimize Your Images
- Use a CDN
- Add Lazy Loading to Your Website
Now you know how to improve your website speed. If you want to learn more about SEO and things that can improve your website, make sure to check out this Freedom Breakthrough Review, which is a course that teaches SEO and other digital marketing strategies.