Believe it or not, speed is one of the top factors determining a website’s success in Google Search, let it be organic or paid search. Google has been insisting on short load times for years, and experts have always agreed that speed matters.
If Google repeats something over and over for years, there must be a reason. But don’t take anyone’s word for it. We’ll explain why speed matters.
For starters, speed factors into Google’s search algorithm. Faster websites consistently outperform slower ones in search rankings.
The average load time for desktop websites is 9.3 seconds. The average load time for top-ranked websites is 1.9 seconds. The difference is more than obvious.
But this is not just Google’s whim. Long load times have a negative impact on user experience. Slower websites get less traffic, fewer page views, fewer conversions, and decreased user satisfaction.
Basically, slow speeds cause everything you should prevent. That’s why we’ve prepared a few quick tips on how to speed up your website. Let’s get to it.
Pick the Right Hosting Provider
Your hosting plan is the foundation of your website. If the foundation is shaky, the entire website suffers. If you don’t get enough server resources or if the server has poor uptime and customer support, you’re in for a lot of trouble down the road.
Make sure you pick the right hosting provider and the right hosting package for your needs.
If you’re not sure of the procedure to pick the right provider, you can get ideas from Hosting Tribunal, a site that tests rigorously all top hosts to find out which among them is best for speed, uptime, customer support, and more. Based on their test results for the last 6 months, they rated SiteGround as the best hosting option when you consider all important factors like uptime, speed, and an experienced customer support team. If you want to just choose the best host for speed, they rated Bluehost as the best.
Images tend to be the largest page element. They require a lot of bandwidth to send and thus increase the server’s response times. If you can reduce image size, the entire website works more smoothly.
Luckily, image optimization is easy. You can use any image editor with the option to optimize for the web to reduce image size before upload. Alternatively, if you use WordPress or Joomla, there are plugins that optimize images automatically.
Enable GZIP Compression
GZIP is a string of code that is inserted into the .htaccess file. It is a rather simple fix that reduces the overall amount of data the server needs to send to the client.
There are plugins that enable GZIP compression. However, if you have a custom-coded website, you should probably consult with your hosting provider’s support team before changing anything. They can usually just insert GZIP for you.
Server-side caching is a neat little technique that is very effective when your website gets a lot of traffic.
When you host a website, the individual web pages don’t exist as separate documents. Instead, every time a visitor wants to see a page, the server has to create a document from the source code.
This is not a problem if one or ten visitors want to see a page. But if 10,000 visitors want to see the same page, the server still has to create the same document 10,000 times. If it sounds like a big waste of resources that’s because it totally is.
That’s where caching comes in. Server caching stores the static content of pages – the content that doesn’t change due to visitor activity – in separate HTML files. That way, the server has a document ready whenever several visitors request the same page.
WordPress and Joomla users, again, have plugins that enable this. As for custom-coded websites, see if your hosting provider offers a caching option.
These are our tips on improving load times. Of course, there are many other ways to make a website faster. Still, these are some of the basic ones to implement if you want a fast website.