Make Your Website Faster in 2019
Everyone wants to have the best website possible, but it’s easier said than done. There are a million things to do when maintaining a website. In all the hustle and bustle, you’re bound to leave something out.
For many site owners, this is website speed. Stats show that the average desktop page loads in 9.3 seconds while the average mobile page loads in 22. You don’t have to be a professional web developer to realize that 22 seconds are too much.
The Google speed update from July this year might be a wake-up call for website owners. Since 2010, speed has been a ranking factor for desktop searches. Now, Google’s ranking system takes it into account for mobile pages as well.
But how fast should your pages be? Experts recommend keeping your load times at 3 seconds or fewer for the best results. It might sound difficult, but the stats put together by the Hosting Tribunal show clearly that slower sites drive away visitors. Longer load times also reduce the number of recurring visitors and conversion rates.
So it’s in your best interest to keep your load times low. Now is the best time to speed up your website if you want to get ahead of the competition. With that in mind, we have prepared several useful tips to reduce your website’s load times.
The larger the web page, the longer it takes to load. So the best policy is to reduce your pages’ size as much as possible without compromising quality.
Images are important here as they often take up the most space. And there’s a difference between loading 22MB and 300KB worth of images. How much of a difference? In the latter case, the visitors can interact with a page 70% faster.
Note that using the width-restriction parameter to set the image size doesn’t work here. It just makes the client’s browser load the full image and then resize it to fit the specifications.
If you want to change the actual size of an image, you can do it manually. Photoshop, Gimp, ImageOptim or any other visual editor with an “optimize for web” function will do. You can also compress images one by one by using Compressor.io.
Alternatively, you can use a tool that resizes all images on your website. If you’re a WordPress user, you can install WP Smush. Besides compressing existing images, you can set it to resize new images automatically.
Enable GZIP Compression
Here we can mention GZIP. Unlike image compression, it doesn’t change the website on your end. Instead, it finds redundant pieces of code and temporarily replaces them with shorter instances. Shorter code takes up less space so you can send it faster. The browser then decompresses the page at the client’s end. This is faster than sending the uncompressed document.
GZIP is a must-have since it can reduce load times by 70%. If you’re not sure if you have enabled GZIP compression, you can enter your website’s URL here and check. And if you didn’t enable it, do it as soon as possible.
For WordPress users, this is as simple as ticking a checkbox. Plugins like W3 Total Cache and WP Rocket support GZIP.
Otherwise, you must insert the GZIP code snippet into your .htaccess file. There are different variants of the code, but your safest bet is to contact your hosting provider’s support team. They can insert it for you without any trouble.
Enable Server Caching
Caching is another useful way to save time and server resources. Normally, web pages are not separate files. So, whenever a visitor wants to see a particular page, your server has to retrieve it from the source code. This means that if a hundred visitors all want the same page, your server has to generate it a hundred times – an obvious waste of resources.
You could store pages separately and have a ready response every time. The problem is that page content can change. Let’s say there’s a comment section underneath your blog post. That means users can change it without your control. If your server sends the same HTML document, visitors won’t see the new content.
So caching saves only the static, unchangeable, content as separate documents. It happens on the first visit to a page. Afterwards, the server has a ready response for every visitor. This dispenses with any unnecessary delay.
Again, WordPress users can try WP Rocket or any other caching plugin. Custom-coded website owners can, once more, contact their provider’s support team. Many hosting providers give you an option for server caching; you just need to ask.
Use a CDN
Content delivery networks are like server caching. But where caching stores your content on your server, a CDN stores in on a network of different servers.
Think of it like this: if you have a visitor from the other side of the world, the data has to travel a long way. This takes time. But with a CDN, they can access your content from a server closer to them. The whole process is easier and faster for everybody.
Another benefit of a CDN is that servers can share their workload. If your origin server can’t support the traffic its getting, other servers can lend it their resources. Traffic spikes can be a problem if you don’t have enough computing power and CDNs do a good job of solving this issue.
So together with the usual benefits of caching, CDNs also reduce latency issues and improve security. If you’d like to employ a CDN’s services, CloudFlare is user-friendly and is the first choice for many users.
Website speed matters. Both Google’s search algorithm and internet users dislike slower websites. If you want to avoid penalties, experts advise keeping your load times below the 3-second mark.
Luckily, there are things anyone can do to improve load times. Here we’ve covered some of the most common. Putting what you’ve learned here into practice will give you immediate results. Search engines will favor your website and your visitors will thank you.
And if you are interested in more details about website speed and its effects, don’t miss out on reading this comprehensive infographic.
Catherrine Garcia is a passionate blogger and a freelance Web Developer. She along with her group of freelance developers, are experts of creating Websites on CMS.