How well optimised is the performance and page speed of your website? Not many businesses take this into consideration and it’s not unusual for visual design, aesthetics and nifty functionality to take priority over performance when launching a new website.
People like fast websites in 2018 and, in fact, so does Google, who have indicated that page speed will influence search engine rankings in their mobile search index. So not only is your page speed vital for strong SEO but it is also necessary for a good user experience. A recent study published by KissMetrics indicated that 40% of visitors will abandon your site completely and go elsewhere if your page fails to load within just three seconds or less.
The top reasons why page speed matters:
- Google has indicated that website speed is a ranking signal used in their search algorithms
- A fast website is more likely to increase your conversion rates
- A fast website is proven to deliver a high-quality user experience
- A slow website will increase your bounce rate by 50%
- A slow website will increase your abandonment rate
- A website optimised for speed and performance will reduce operating costs
How to test your website performance:
At Digital Mad we like to use a range of different online page speed tests and performance tools to gain insights and metrics into page load times. We recommend using Google Page Insights, a system that grades your website from 1 to 100 on both desktop and mobile. A score above 85 is an indication that your website is well optimised. We certainly put a lot of work and time into achieving a top score of 100/100 on our own website, but we couldn’t call ourselves performance experts without striving for absolute perfection! Google Page Insights will highlight the main issues that need fixing in order of priority. For example, you can view recommendations on how to optimise your images using lossless compression as well as how to minify CSS/JS assets to reduce the page size.
Another great performance tool is GT Metrix which takes into consideration page speed and YSLOW metrics, allowing you to assign your site a grade from F to A. Sign up for a free account to accurately test the load times of your website from a server local to your visitors. Running a speed test on GT Metrix as a guest restricts you to Vancouver, so unless your visitors are in Canada you will not get accurate results. It is therefore always necessary to select a server closest to your target audience.
5 tips to improve your website speed
The following optimisation techniques can be implemented by your web developer or internet marketing agency to improve website performance:
1. Use VPS hosting over shared hosting:
One of the biggest mistakes we see businesses make is their decision to use cheap shared hosting packages over a VPS (Virtual Private Server). A shared server has more than one website, with all of them sharing the same resources. Naturally, this can result in a high server response time and slow down your website. Especially during peak hours. A VPS, meanwhile, has allocated resources just for your site. You can find a good VPS for less money than most shared hosting packages with SSD storage and advanced caching like Varnish included.
2. Avoid third party themes and plugins:
We see a lot of businesses installing third party themes and plugins that include every script and library under the sun. Having too many scripts and active plugins will slow down your site and increase requests on the server. If you’re particularly concerned about performance then it is worth considering a bespoke WordPress theme with custom features and functionality built directly into it without third-party plugin dependency. Out the box, not all plugins are well optimised for performance, so the amount of active plugins on your site should be kept as low as possible.
3. Resize and compress your images:
This is probably the easiest way to quickly reduce page size to ensure your web page can be swiftly downloaded by visitors. We advise you use a compression tool like TinyPNG to reduce the size of your images without affecting the quality. It is also helpful to resize any images to the actual display size on the website as this will make a big difference. Check your website doesn’t have resize issues using Google Page Insights tool mentioned earlier in this post.
5. Configure caching on your server:
Whether you have shared hosting or VPS hosting, adding cache control and expire headers will let the browser know whether to serve a cached version of the page. If configured correctly then caching will significantly reduce server load and decrease your page load times. If your server is using Apache then you can enable cache control and set expire headers in htaccess. With Nginx you can add cache control to your servers config file too.
Looking to improve your SEO rankings? At Digital Mad we are experts in website speed and performance. We use advanced optimisation techniques to ensure your website loads as quickly as possible. If your website is taking too long to load then call 01202 901 607 to speak with an SEO expert in Bournemouth or email us to find out how we can help grow your business.