In the “old” days of the internet, users wanted speed.
Nowadays, internet users need speed.
So much so that they will disregard websites that they deem too slow. And with the Google Page Experience update, it’s now become apparent that search engines are in full agreement with this sentiment.
With the Google Page Experience update shining a spotlight on page speeds and performance, now is the time to look under your website’s hood and tweak its engine.
With page and site speed becoming more of a ranking factor for search engines, now is the time to make sure your website is
What Is The Difference Between Site Speed and Page Speed?
Site speed refers to the load times associated with your entire website, while page speed takes a more granular approach by looking at the load speeds of individual pages.
You could have a site with an amazing load speed, just to have it all bogged down by a single page that loads at a glacial pace.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t work both ways. You could have a page that should load quickly, but can’t due to issues related to site speed.
When trying to improve the overall speed of your website, site speed should be your first priority. Once you have a solid and speedy foundation, then can you move onto solving your individual page speed issues.
Why Should I Care About Site Speed?
If your site doesn’t load fast enough, Google and your audience won’t think very highly of it. In fact, you’ll lose visibility and traffic if your load speeds are too slow.
And on top of all this, it is a well-known fact that visitors are less likely to engage with a site when page load times get in the way of their user experience. By having a faster loading site you can increase page views and conversions and reduce bounce rate.
How Fast Should a Website Load in 2021?
As fast as possible. In other words: under 3 seconds.
Google themselves aim to have load speeds of under half a second. That is almost as quick as blinking.
While competing with Google is completely unrealistic, you should make every effort to minimise your load speeds.
The first step in doing this is to check what your site speed is now.
How Can I Check My Site Speed?
Google offer their own site speed checking tool known as Google PageSpeed Insights.
This tool measures the performance of a page for both mobile and desktop devices. Just enter your domain into the bar at the top and click “analyze”. It’s really that simple.
Now that you have your score, it’s time to make sense of it.
Scores range anywhere from 0 to 100. Scores of over 85 are a good indication that your site is performing well. Anything below that shows that there is definitely room for improvement.
The tool also gives you a useful report that breaks down what is affecting your site speed, and steps for improvement.
So let’s get into what exactly you can do to improve your site speed score.
Tips for Minimising Page Speed
1. Minify Your Website’s Code
You can boost your website’s speed tenfold by simply minifying the code on your website (e.g. deleting spaces, commas, other unessential characters, etc).
There are tools that can help you do this, with Google themselves recommending CSSNano and UglifyJS. Although, this type of under the hood work is best left to a developer.
2. Eliminate As Many Redirects As Possible
Unnecessary redirects add a lot of extra steps that can easily be avoided. By eliminating as many of these as possible, you can reduce the time it takes for your servers to find and load the correct page.
3. Include Trailing Slashes (/) On Your URLs
This one is as simple as it gets. All you need to do is make sure you add a trailing slash to the end of your URLs.
This easy-to-implement addition tells your server there are no file directories to search, and that this page is the final destination.
To give you an example:
4. Reduce and Optimize Image Sizes
It’s no surprise that large files take longer to load. However, people tend to forget this when it comes to images on their site.
Take a look at all the images on your site and ensure that they are all compressed correctly. Typically PNG and JPEG files are the easiest format to compress, and are supported by most internet browsers. Even if you are using royalty-free stock images you should make sure that they are compressed for better performance.
As a rule of thumb, your images should never be bigger than 1MB. Your main goal should be to reduce the image size as much as possible without sacrificing quality. This can involve a bit of a trial and error, so make sure you review your images fully once they’ve been compressed. (No one wants a blurry picture on their homepage)
For more tips on reducing image file sizes, check out our guide to optimising images for SEO.
5. Get Better Hosting
If your site is all but perfect, and you have no idea what’s slowing it down, it could be your web hosting provider.
The only way to combat this would be to find a better hosting solution.
If you want to learn more about website hosting itself, then feel free to check out our Business Owner’s Guide to Web Hosting.
6. Use Browser Caching
Browsers cache a lot of what you see when you visit a website. They do this to avoid reloading the entire page when you revisit it.
7. Avoid Plugins and Extra Page Elements Where Possible
This one can be hard, as a lot of the plugins and extra elements we use on our websites are important. You’ve got to ask yourself; “can my website live without this particular feature?” If the answer is yes, then you’ve got to let go!
8. Use a Content Distribution Network (CDN)
A content distribution network (CDN) is essentially a network of servers located in different areas around the world. It works by letting you distribute “copies” of your site across these servers instead of having all of your traffic go through a single server.
By spreading out your content, your page load speeds are guaranteed to be faster.
We Specialise in Speedy Websites
There is an endless number of ways to optimize your site for speed. Some of them aren’t always for the best. You need to make some tough decisions on what’s necessary for your site’s user experience, and what isn’t.
Sometimes figuring this all out by yourself just isn’t viable. At EHD, our team of web development and design professionals are highly experienced in building fast websites for some of Europe’s biggest brands.
We know everything there is to know about site speeds and how to improve them.
So if you’re looking to jump-start the engine of your website, speak to the EHD team today about what we can do for you.