The online visibility of your business is not yet at the level you expected, and you do not know what other improvements to apply to your website for optimizing it from a SEO perspective? Do you think you have already tried all the possible methods for improving your site’s SEO?
Well, in case you didn’t know, optimizing your website’s loading speed is an essential element for improving its online presence. Specifically, tests by SEO specialists have repeatedly shown that a website’s loading speed directly impacts both its placement in search engine results (such as Google, Bing or Yahoo) and the conversion rate of visitors to that particular site into customers.
So, in short we can say that ignoring the optimization of your website’s loading speed would be a mistake that can cost you the loss of at least 20% of potential customers.
Have I convinced you on the importance of speed, but you don’t know what exactly to start with, or what would be the best method for optimal results?
The methods can be different, depending on several criteria, such as the technology behind your website, but also the type of business in which you operate. But the first step in a website’s speed optimization strategy is always the evaluation.
How do you evaluate your website’s speed?
First of all, in the evaluation process it is important to know what the optimal average speed of your website should be, as well as the tools to use for measuring its loading speed as accurately as possible.
Experts say that websites generally load on average in 7 seconds, but, for good results, your goal should be a speed equal to or less than 3 seconds. Thus, you will be able to indirectly increase the number of visitors to your website by at least 20%, and they will be satisfied enough with the way they will be able to navigate it.
To evaluate the speed, there are a number of online tools that help you test various technical elements that influence the speed of downloading a site’s files. But the ones we recommend are Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix and Pingdom. The first is a free tool offered by Google, and the other two can be used for free, but within certain limits, such as times, or number of accessible features.
We recommend that you use these tools with confidence (and a lot of patience :)) to analyze your site, or any page on the site that you want to test. They will give you general performance scores, technical details about each page, and detailed speed reports. Thus, with the help of these tools you will be able to determine where exactly to focus your efforts in optimizing your website’s speed.
Important elements that can be optimized relatively easily
After patiently and carefully analyzing the current loading speed of your website with the tools mentioned above, it is time to get to work on optimizing the main elements. You’re probably wondering, “But how can I improve my website’s loading speed if I don’t have technical programming knowledge?”
Fortunately, implementing certain technical elements for optimization of a website’s loading speed is much easier than it might seem at first glance. Especially if you use a content management system (CMS), such as WordPress or other such platforms based on similar principles.
Here are some things you can apply to get good results:
1. Choose a web hosting service that ensures speed
This may be self-evident, but far too many websites are undermined by the selection of a questionable hosting service. Specifically, the loading speed of the site can be significantly affected by the response time of the server (“time to first byte” or simply TTFB). If this is a good one, then the website will load very quickly in user’s browser, but if it is a low one, then it will limit the loading speed of the site.
The lower the value of this indicator, the faster the server response time is. Google recommends that a good server records a TTFB of less than 300 milliseconds.
When a server takes longer to respond to requests from users’ browsers, this can cause a significant slowdown in the loading of a web page.
This can frustrate visitors and determine them to leave your site and never return too soon.
So, if this indicator is very high after the tests performed, maybe the time has come for your website to receive an upgrade to the current hosting service, which will meet the current needs. Or maybe you should even consider replacing the hosting provider with one that offers you a better package. Today the market is full of suppliers with the most attractive and high quality offers. So, if you run a detailed review of the market, you will surely find a convenient service.
Document yourself beforehand and carefully choose the type of service that meets the technical needs for your website.
2. Optimize the size of the images on your website
If your website contains large images, they will always lead to long download times. While deleting images can quickly solve this problem, you still can’t do that, because your website will become completely boring. And I don’t think you want that to happen.
To avoid this, what you can do is resize or compress the images used on the site. This method is very effective, and we constantly use it to optimize the images on our website. Try this, and you’ll see that your score in GTMetrix on the image optimization indicator will improve significantly.
A very useful tool that we can recommend for compressing large photos, without losing quality, is TinyPNG. Here you can compress up to 20 .jpg or .png images, up to 5 MB, at no cost. For additional optimization, there is also a Pro subscription.
If your site is built in WordPress, then you can also use plugins from the WordPress platform that are designed to optimize the images on the site. For example, one such plugin is Imagify. Once the plugin is installed, it will do its job automatically, every time you upload photos to your website.
3. Use a content delivery network (CDN) system
Wondering what such a system is and how it can help you in optimizing your website’s speed?
In short, such CDN system compresses and stores the static content of a site (such as images, videos, CSS files, and more), saving it to a network of servers that can be placed in multiple locations around the world. When a website is visited, that content will be uploaded into the user’s browser from a server that is closest to the user’s location.
As an example, if your site in Romania is accessed by users in China, then with the help of a CDN, the content of your website will be delivered from a server located in China. Thus, any page accessed will be loaded as quickly as possible, providing a pleasant experience.
This is a very important aspect for optimizing a website, but often overlooked by many developers or web specialists. If this was overlooked when setting up your website, it’s not a problem, because you can start using such a service at any time.
There are several providers in the market in the CDN services sector, one of the best known being Cloudflare, which also offers a free package. Setting up such a service doesn’t take long. You only need to implement a few settings in the backend of your site, and change the DNS servers.
Cloudflare has access to 180 data centers around the world, probably with the largest CDN network in the world.
4. Install a cache optimization plugin
This is an important element to ensure optimizing your website’s speed, and if you have a WordPress site it is even easier to implement.
What do cache optimization plugins do? They speed up the loading time of a website, improving SEO and increasing conversion rates. Specifically, a cache plugin generates static HTML pages of a site and saves them on the server. Such a tool allows these “pre-built” HTML files to run when a user accesses a website. This method is much faster than processing relatively heavy and slow PHP scripts every time a visitor enters your website.
Therefore, we recommend that you consider installing a plugin that optimizes cache memory.
If your site is in WordPress format, installing such a plugin is relatively easy. The most popular such plugins for WordPress are W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, Autoptimize or WP Fastest Cache. There are others that you can try, of course. We recommend that you test each one to determine which works best with the website theme you have installed.
However, if your site is in built on a more complex framework, we recommend that you use a web developer who knows how to implement all the necessary settings to achieve optimal speed.