Last year was a year for website speed. Google’s speed update and the announcement of mobile-first indexing really made people take website optimization to seriousness. According to Google’s research, mobile load times went from 22 to 15 seconds in 2018 alone. That’s a significant step forward speed optimization. That doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement. Load time recommended by experts is 3 seconds at most. Most websites don’t fulfill this standard yet.
That’s good news if you haven’t optimized your website, you still have time to boost your website speed and get ahead of the competition. Slow websites get less traffic and fewer conversions as it stands. If you want success, you definitely don’t want to be the last one left with a slow website. Websites will only get faster in 2019. Google will not cut slow websites any slack and as the web gets faster, slow websites will only suffer worse drawbacks.
The time to act is now.That’s why we’ve brought you these five simple tips on improving website speed. These are simple and can be done by anyone. Implement them and you’ll immediately notice an improvement in your site’s performance.
#1. Optimize Images
Images might not seem like a complex thing but image optimization is one of the most important parts of improving website speed. Implementing proper image optimization can speed up a website by 70%.
The main problem with images is that webmasters often upload an image to their site and just use the width parameter to change the image size. This makes the image appear physically smaller but doesn’t change the file size. The client’s browser still has to download the full image and then resize it. This sometimes means the client has to download megabytes worth of images to see kilobytes of content. This means waiting longer to see the same web page.
Luckily, anyone can easily optimize images. A lot of visual editors like Photoshop have an option to optimize for web. Here you can set the desired image size. If you want an image to appear as 1000 pixels wide, set the width to 1000px and save the image.
Alternatively, if you are a WordPress user, there’s an array of plugins that take care of image optimization automatically. WPSmush and WWW Image Optimizer are both good plugins for this purpose.
Before we move on, we should mention a couple more things about image optimization to look out for. First, note that image size is not the same for mobile devices and desktop computers. You should optimize images separately for mobile and desktop browsing.
Mobile websites are important, especially when you consider that most internet traffic comes from mobile devices. Mobile pages will be the difference between good and great websites in 2019. Don’t miss out on optimizing images for mobile browsing too.
Also, it is sometimes necessary to include a high-resolution photo on your website. You can do this without uploading a large image that bogs down your load times. Here’s the trick. Upload an optimized image. Then have it link to the high-resolution one. Visitors can open the image to look at it in high-res and your load times remain short.
Image optimization is a necessity for all modern websites. If you haven’t done it already, you now know how to. Don’t waste time and optimize images as soon as possible.
#2. Add Caching
Server caching is another big point in speed optimization. The thing is, servers don’t always deliver pages to the clients in the most efficient way. That’s why we need caching. Here’s what we mean. Even though clients see individual pages in their browsers, the pages don’t exist as separate documents. Still, the client gets an individual HTML document containing the web page, so where does the document come from? When a visitor wants to see a page, the server retrieves info from the source code, generates the page as an HTML document, and sends it to the client. No problem yet.
When one client requests a page, the server generates it. When another client requests the same page, the server generates it again. When a thousand clients request the same page, the server has to generate it a thousand times. You get the idea.
It’s a huge problem if the server wastes resources generating the same file, sometimes a thousand times in one day. It would be much simpler to store pages as individual documents, especially the static parts of the content. Your website has content that never changes like photos, text, and videos. This is static content. The only way it changes is if you yourself edit or delete it.
However, there is also dynamic content. This is the content that can change without your interference. Let’s say somebody leaves a comment on your web page. The comment section is dynamic content. Even though the static content is the same, the web page has changed and you can’t deliver the same HTML document as before. You need something that accounts for the dynamic content.
This is where caching comes in. When you enable caching, the server stores only the static content of pages in separate files. That way, the server needs to generate only the dynamic content and not the entire page. As a result, it can deliver the page to the client much faster. It’s a simple solution, but it subverts many potential problems.
If you’re a WordPress user, plugins like WP-Rocket and W3 Total Cache make it easy to enable caching. You only have to open the plugin options and tick the checkbox next to the option to enable caching. If you own a custom-coded website, contact your hosting provider. They probably have a caching option and can enable it for you. If they don’t, jump to the last point of this article.
#3. Include GZIP
GZIP is simple but effective. It is a snippet of code inserted into the .htaccess file of your website. Once inserted, it locates the redundancies in your code. Code typically has a lot of sections that repeat. GZIP replaces these sections with shorter code before sending the page to the user. This way the pages take a lot less time to send and no data is lost.
GZIP was released in 1992, but it is just as relevant in 2019. In fact, most web developers today consider using GZIP a standard practice when building a website. For custom-coded websites, contact the technical support of your hosting provider for info on the best way to insert GZIP. Inserting GZIP is not extremely complicated, but you need to do it properly. Also, don’t forget to back up of your site before making any changes.
Again, WordPress users can do this through numerous speed optimization plugins, some of which we have already mentioned.
#4. Use a CDN
Content delivery networks work similarly to server caching. The difference is that a CDN stores the static content on several physically distant servers. Say your origin server is in Europe but your website gets a lot of traffic from Asia. If you hire a global CDN, you can store static content on a server in Asia. That makes it much faster to deliver content to remote audiences.
A CDN can also help with traffic spikes. Sometimes your website gets too much traffic during peak hours. If you use a CDN, the other servers in the network can help out when one server gets too much traffic to handle. If you want to try out a CDN, CloudFlare is the most popular option right now. Some hosting providers offer free CDN services with their hosting plans. It might pay off to look out for them.
#5. Choose the Best Hosting Provider
In a way, this section should be at the top. With bad hosting, you have a much tougher time implementing any of the above techniques. Still, your choice of hosting ties the rest of the speed improvement techniques together so we moved it to the end.
The hosting provider impacts load times more than you might think. If you don’t get enough server resources, you’ll have a tough time getting even the most basic website to work properly. Also, your need a professional customer support team from your provider. Quality customer support is essential for resolving any issues that come up. If your
hosting provider is not fulfilling their obligations, don’t be afraid to find a better one.
Look at some hosting reviews and find a provider that suits you. Keep an eye out on the basics like speed, uptime, and quality of technical support. Also, remember that not every web host is good for every type of website. If your website runs on a content management system, you can go with managed website hosting.
Hosting is not extremely expensive, but it can make or break a website. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other hosting providers if your current host is not working out. If you’re just starting a website, this is even more important. Better to find a good hosting provider from the get-go than to have issues down the road.
You now know 5 simple yet effective ways to make your website faster. Even using one of these can make a noticeable difference. Implement all of them correctly, and your website speed is guaranteed to skyrocket.
Good luck with making your website faster and conquering the internet.