7 Ways to Speed Up Your Website and Improve Conversion

Think that speeding up your website isn’t important?

Think again.

A one-second delay in page load time yields:

  • 11% fewer page views
  • 16% decrease in customer satisfaction
  • 7% loss in conversions

A few extra seconds could have a huge impact on your ability to engage visitors and make sales.

This means that having a fast site is essential — not just for ranking well with Google, but for keeping your bottom-line profits high.

How website speed optimization influences conversions

Slow speeds kill conversions.

In fact, 47% of consumers expect websites to load in two seconds or less — and 40% will abandon a page that takes three or more seconds.

This means that if your site takes more than three seconds to load, you lose almost half of your visitors before they even arrive on your site.

That alone is a huge blow to your potential conversions.

And for the visitors that decide to stick around, your slow load times can deter them from returning in the future. In one survey, 79% of customers said they would not return to a site with poor performance.

In that same survey, 52% of shoppers said that quick page loading is important to their site loyalty and 44% said they tell their friends about poor site experiences.

This survey also discovered that a one-second delay can decrease customer satisfaction by about 16%.

It should come as no surprise, then that improving site speed improves performance.

One of the best examples of this is Walmart’s improvement in conversions and revenue after increasing their site speed.

During their initial analysis, they found that visitors who converted had received pages that loaded two times as fast as the visitors who did not convert.

This showed that the faster a page, the more likely a visitor was to make a purchase.

At the end of their website speed optimization, Walmart reported the following results:

  • For every one second of site speed improvement, they experienced up to a 2% increase in conversions.
  • For every 100 ms of improvement, they grew incremental revenue by up to 1%.

In another study, the relationship between load times and conversion rates showed a 25% decrease in conversion rates with just one extra second of load time.

It’s clear that putting in the effort to increase your site speed — even by one second — could have a major impact on conversions

Still not convinced?

Consider that Google once experienced a 20% drop in traffic because of an extra .5 seconds in load time.

Along the same lines, Amazon once ran A/B tests in which they delayed pages in increments of 100 milliseconds. They found that even small delays resulted in “substantial and costly” decreases in revenue.

These are two of the most well-known and reputable sites in existence — so if users aren’t willing to wait an extra second for them to load, they probably won’t wait for you.

How your website speed influences the visibility

Now that Google takes speed into consideration when ranking sites, your load times can also influence how easily users can find you in the first place.

This is especially true now that it is rolling out its mobile-first index. As of December 2017, the search engine has started ranking all search results based on the mobile versions of pages.

Mobile searches outnumbered desktop searches for the first time in 2015, and its share of the overall search only continues to grow.

This means that it’s in Google’s best interest to cater to its search results to mobile users. They don’t want to direct their users to sites that won’t load or function well on their devices.

As a result, the mobile user experience will now play a major role in search rankings — even in desktop search results.

This is the exact opposite of how the index used to work.

User experience has long been a factor in rankings, but prior to this shift, it only took desktop experience into consideration. So even if a site provided a poor mobile experience, it still had a shot at ranking on page one.

This is no longer the case.

Now, pages are indexed and ranked based on the experience they provide mobile users.

So if you want to maintain (or improve) your rankings and visibility, it’s essential to know how to reduce the loading time of the website. You must have a site that provides a quick, easy user experience — on any browser or screen size.

Why is my website slow?

You’ve conducted a site speed test and found your load time is pretty slow. (If you don’t know how to do a site speed test, I will explain later on in this post).

There could be a number of reasons why your site load time is lagging. It could be anything from server load time to image size to the number of redirects you have.

That means there are a whole bunch of steps you can take to improve page speed. We’ll look at 20 of them. But before you start troubleshooting to improve website performance, you need to have something to aim for.

Let’s take a look at what’s considered a good load time, to give you something to shoot for.

What is a good page load time?

Before you start working on your site’s speed, it’s a good idea to set a goal for where you want it to be.

That can be difficult if you aren’t sure what acceptable page speed is.

According to Google, the best practice is for three seconds. Unfortunately, according to its recent benchmark report findings, most sites are nowhere near that.

In an analysis of 900,000 mobile ad landing pages spanning 126 countries, Google found that 70% of the pages analyzed took nearly seven seconds for the visual content above the fold to display.

Of all the industries they included, none had an average even close to their recommended best practice of three seconds.

 

The average time it takes to fully load a mobile landing page is 22 seconds, but 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load.

Plus, as page load time goes from one to ten seconds, the probability of a mobile user bouncing increases by 123%.

This means that site owners, in general, have a lot of work to do to get their sites up to par in Google’s eyes.

But on the upside, it also means that if you put in the work to get your site speed to an acceptable level, you’re well ahead of the pack in terms of user experience.

As you improve your site, you can use Google’s recommendations and benchmarks to set your goals and measure your performance.

After all — as the largest search engine in the world, Google can have a major impact on your success. So using their standards as your standards is never a bad idea.

How to speed up your website in 2019

There are tons of factors that influence how long each page on your site takes to load, so there are many different steps you can take to increase your speed and improve user experience.

In this post, we’ll go over 20 tips and best practices you can use to decrease your load times and improve your site’s performance.

And if that number sounds overwhelming — don’t worry.

While all of these tips can help you improve your site speed, you don’t need to do all of them today.

In fact, if you’ve worked on your site speed in the past, your site may already be in line with some of these best practices.

With that in mind, let’s get started.

1. Minimize HTTP requests

According to Yahoo, 80% of a Web page’s load time is spent downloading the different parts of the page, like images, stylesheets, and scripts.

An HTTP request is made for each one of these elements, so the more on-page components, the longer it takes for the page to render.

The first step to minimizing your requests is to figure out how many your site currently makes, to use as a benchmark.

If you use Google Chrome, you can use the browser’s Developer Tools to see how many HTTP requests your site makes.

Right-click on the page you want to analyze, and click “Inspect,” then click the “Network” tab. (If you don’t see the “Network” tab, you may need to expand the Developer Tools sidebar by dragging the left border to the left.)

The “Name” column shows all of the files on the page, the “Size” column shows the size of each file, and the “Time” column shows how long it takes to load each file.

In the bottom left corner, you’ll also see the number of total requests the site makes.

Reducing this number of requests will speed up your site, look through your files and see if any are unnecessary.

You may not notice anything immediately, but some of them are likely to prime candidates for combining — which we’ll get to in the next steps.

2. Minify and combine files

Now that you know how many requests your site makes, you can get to work on reducing that number. The best place to get started is with your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files.

These are extremely important files, as they determine your site’s appearance.

They also add to the number of requests your site makes every time a user visits it.

You can reduce this number by “minifying” and combining your files. This reduces the size of each file, as well as the total number of files.

This is especially important if you use a templated website builder. These make it easy to build a website, but they sometimes create messy code that can slow your site considerably.

Minifying a file involves removing unnecessary formatting, whitespace, and code.

Since every unnecessary piece of code adds to the size of your page, it’s important that you eliminate extra spaces, line breaks, and indentation. This ensures that your pages are as lean as possible.

Combining files is exactly what it sounds like. If your site runs multiple CSS and JavaScript files, you can combine them into one.

There are several ways to minify and combine files, and if your site runs on WordPress, plugins like WP Rocket make the process fairly simple.

If you have this plugin installed, go the “Static Files” tab and check the files you want to minify and combine.

This can include HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files, as well as Google Fonts.

Then, hit “Save Changes” to complete the process. You can reload your page and look at Developer Tools again to see the impact that your changes made.

When it comes to your website, leaner is better. The fewer elements on a page, the fewer HTTP requests a browser will need to make the page render — and the faster it will load.

3. Use asynchronous loading for CSS and JavaScript files

Once you’ve minified and combined some of your files, you can also optimize the way that they load on your pages.

Scripts like CSS and JavaScript can be loaded in two different ways: Synchronously or Asynchronously.

If your scripts load synchronously, they load one at a time, in the order, they appear on the page. If your scripts load asynchronously, on the other hand, some of them will load simultaneously.

Loading files asynchronously can speed up your pages because when a browser loads a page, it moves from top to bottom.

If it gets to a CSS or JavaScript file that is not asynchronous, it will stop loading until it has fully loaded that particular file. If that same file were asynchronous, the browser could continue loading other elements on the page at the same time.

Using the same “Static Files” tab of the WP Rocket plugin, check the options next to “Render-blocking CSS/JS.”

Click “Save Changes,” then test your site to make sure that everything loads correctly.

4. Defer JavaScript loading

Deferring a file means preventing it from loading until after other elements have loaded. If you defer larger files, like JavaScript, you ensure that the rest of your content can load without a delay.

If you have a WordPress site, you can the WP Rocket plugin mentioned above to easily enable deferred JavaScript loading. Simply check the box next to “Load JS files deferred,” and you’re good to go.

5. Minimize time to first byte

In addition to the amount of time it takes for your page to fully load, you’ll also want to take a look at the amount of time it takes to start loading.

Time to first byte, or TTFB, is the amount of time a browser has to wait before getting its first byte of data from the server. Google recommends a TTFB of less than 200 ms.

Unlike a lot of the front-end performance factors most site owners focus on, this is a server-side concern.

When a user visits your site, their browser sends an HTTP request to the server that hosts it. There are three steps that need to happen between that initial request and the first byte of data:

  1. DNS lookup
  2. Server processing
  3. Response

You can see how long this process takes for your site using either Chrome’s Developer Tools or a third-party tool.

If you use Developer Tools, it’s important to remember that response time can be affected by your Internet connection. So the slower your own connection, the slower your server response will appear.

To access this information in Developer Tools, click the “Network” tab and mouse over the top item in the “Waterfall” column.

6. Reduce server response time

One of the biggest factors in how quickly your page loads is the amount of time your DNS lookup takes.

A DNS, or domain name system, is a server with a database of IP addresses and their associated hostnames. When a user types a URL into their browser, a DNS server is what translates that URL into the IP address that indicates its location online.

A DNS lookup, then, is the process of finding a specific DNS record. You can think of it as your computer looking up a number in a phone book.

For example, let’s say you wanted to visit the URL ubnt.com. You’d type this into your browser — but that means very little to your computer.

Your ISP will perform a DNS lookup to find the IP address associated with that URL.

It will get an IP address like 52.40.57.158.443, which tells it where to find the site you’re looking for. This step prevents users from needing to memorize long strings of numbers to access information online.

The amount of time this step takes depends on how fast your DNS provider is. If not, it may be time to switch to a faster DNS provider.

You can check out this DNS speed comparison report, which is updated monthly, to get an idea of where your provider stacks up, and see which providers offer higher speeds.

If you’re using a slow DNS, this increases the time it takes for browsers to locate your site. Switching to a faster DNS provider can speed up the process.

7. Choose the right hosting option for your needs

Most new site owners choose the cheapest possible option for hosting. While this is often enough in the beginning, you’ll likely need to upgrade once you start getting more traffic. Don’t skimp on your host, get one that you can trust. There is a great set of reviews on the best web hosts here.

When looking at hosting, you have three different options:

  • Shared hosting
  • VPS hosting
  • Dedicated server

Shared hosting is the cheapest option and you can often get it for about five dollars per month. While it’s fine for low-traffic sites, shared hosting does struggle to keep up with traffic spikes and high-volume sites. And it is possible for your site to be impacted by traffic spikes from other sites using the same server as you.

With shared hosting, you share certain resources like CPU, disk space, and RAM with other sites hosted on the same server.

With VPS hosting, you still share a server with other sites, but you have your own dedicated portions of the server’s resources. This is a good in-between option. It protects your site from everyone else on your server without the cost required for dedicated hosting.

 

Blog Source: The Daily Egg | 20 Ways to Speed Up Your Website and Improve Conversion in 2019

 

 

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