Why Improving Site Speed Is Important
When it comes to running an effective website, website speed is a very important factor. Having a low site speed is very important but it can also be a very frustrating process. There are many factors to consider, and all of them interact with each other in different ways. There are also many different strategies for achieving high speed for each aspect of your website.
Most people will not stay on a website if it takes too long to load. People are used to getting the information they need as fast as possible. If your website is loading slowly, users may click the back button before they even see your website.
Website speed is one of the factors that affects your search engine optimization. Search engines are less likely to rank pages that load slowly. While search engines may not constantly test your speed, they can see if users are leaving your website quickly. In general, a better user experience leads to better SEO.
Common Factors That Affect Site Speed
Having optimized images on your website is one of the biggest factors in your website speed. Images on the internet come in many forms, and some will load on your site faster than others. As of right now, the preferred image extension for websites is WEBP. However many image editors do not allow you to export in WEBP.
If you are using WordPress, there are a variety of plugins that optimize and convert your images into WEBP format. At Effective Nerd, we use ShortPixel Image Optimizer. However, there are a lot of other great resources for achieving image optimization.
When somebody loads your webpage on their browser, they aren’t always pulling information directly from your hosting server. Most websites have codes that are pulled from a variety of sources. For example, if you have custom fonts on your website or have live social media feeds, then your website has to pull information from those sources before your webpage can be fully loaded.
When you are building and maintaining your website, it is important to keep in mind the number of requests that your page makes when it is loaded. It is kind of a balancing game. You want your website to be as full and robust as possible, but at the same time limit the number of page requests.
There are many site speed tools on the internet that will help you determine the amount of page requests your site has. They will show you how these page requests are affecting your load time (see below).
At the end of the day, most of your site speed comes from the speed in which your hosting server can deliver the information to the user. Having the fastest server possible is important. However, faster hosting servers are also more expensive.
Many bloggers, artists, and creators start off with shared hosting. This style of hosting is very affordable for independent creators. As your website and your audience grow you may want to consider moving to a faster server.
Caching is an important part of maintaining your website speed. Instead of loading your website from scratch every time, caching allows users to load a prebuilt version of your website. This helps maintain your site speed because it doesn’t have to load every element every time. It is loading essentially a copy of your page.
There are many cashing resources available. Cashing can be achieved through the use of a WordPress plugin, your hosting provider, your ad manager, or any other entity that you work with that offers a cashing service.
CDN, or content delivery network, is similar to caching. However, it works a bit differently. Instead of users loading a cached copy of your website from your own server, they are loading a cached copy of your webpage from a server that is closer to them. Content delivery networks upload a version of your webpage to a variety of servers across the world. Whenever a user goes to load your website, instead of sending the request to your server, the request comes from the closest server to them geographically.
For example, if your server is located in Utah in the United States and the user requesting your webpage is in the UK, your will load a cached copy of your webpage from a UK server. Closing the geographical gap between server and user helps increase sight speed. There are many CDNs available, and most of them charge a yearly or monthly fee.
Tips To Improve Site Speed
- Test both your homepage and specific pages. Our homepages are often set up differently than the rest of the pages on our website. Our homepage is not always the best indicator of our overall website speed. Test some of your other pages as well to gain more insight into how your website loads as a whole.
- Don’t get frustrated. Improving website speed is a fickle process. While there are best practices for improving loading times, every website is different. What works for other websites may not work for your own. Take your time and do what is best for your brand.
- Use Multiple Analysis Tools – There are a variety of website speed tools available for free (see below). Each tool has its own method for analyzing your website. By using multiple analysis resources, you can get a more well-rounded view of how your website loads.
- Find A Balance Between Speed And Functionality – A webpage with basic text is going to load faster than a page with multiple widgets and features. While it may be tempting to strip down your site to make it load faster, the aesthetic may put off some of your audience. Try to strike a good balance of speed and functionality.
- Perform Regular Maintenence – As you continue to change and develop your website, your site speed will change as well. Site speed maintenance is an important part of running a great website. You should check and adjust your website a few times a year to improve site speed.
Resources To Help You Improve Site Speed
Google PageSpeed Insights – This is Google’s tool for measuring website speed. It will give you speed ratings for both desktop and mobile. It will also tell you ways you can improve your site speed.
Pingdom Tools – Similar to PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom Tools will analyze your website and give recommendations for increasing your site speed. What I like about this tool is that it lets you test your website from different servers. This can give you some insight to how people across the world load your website.
GTMetrix – GTMetrix is an awesome resource for analyzing website speed. In my opinion, it gives you the most detailed information about how your site is performing.
Hubspot Website Grader – While this is not solely a website speed analyzer, it will still give you a lot of important information about your website as a whole.