How to Make Websites Load Faster
Nowadays, website speed is everything and knowing how to speed up a slow site is worth the struggle.
Think about it. When was the last time you visited a site, and it loaded super slow? What did you do?
You went to a different website, of course!
If you’ve put a lot of time and effort into creating, researching, drafting and perfecting your website analysis, don’t let it be slow! You want visitors to explore your site and make it easy to navigate, right? Well, website speed plays a huge role!
However, improving website speed can be frustrating because there are a lot of moving pieces. On top of that, when you don’t know what else to do to fix it, it can get downright depressing.
So How Fast Should Your Website Be?
Google wants e-commerce sites to load in 2 seconds. 2 seconds! While most websites on the internet take 22 seconds for a mobile landing page to load over a 3G connection and desktop sites are averaging over 3MB for a single page. Ultimately, it can take anywhere from 6 to 18+ seconds to load over a broadband connection (either phone or cable connection). As for standard websites, I would recommend getting page load time under 6 seconds.
5 Areas of Focus for a Website Speed
1. Website Hosting
The first thing to do is check to make sure that you have a web host. Not sure if you have one or not? Well, web hosting isn’t free, and it’s usually a separate fee vs. your annual domain renewal.
However, many domain name registrars who also offer web hosting packages! For example, three popular registrars/web hosts are Bluehost, HostGator and GoDaddy. Ever hear of them?
Also, sometimes a web host package deal is included at a lower cost when you purchase a domain name.
Why aren’t web host packages included with all new domains?
Well, website speed is pricey! However, with a little research and knowing what to look for, you should be able to find a great deal. (Like this one through GreenGeeks!)
2. Cache Memory
Cache memory is one of the fastest types of auxiliary memory out here! Why does that matter? Well, it’s super beneficial when it comes to loading a website. Using cache to load your site can decrease loading times up to 300%, which is huge and can also save you on bandwidth!
Many small business owners overlook cache memory for obvious reasons other it being something that’s super-duper exciting to research. (Kidding!) However, it also requires a little bit of code that needs to get placed into a file located in your Cpanel (also known as a control panel). How do you access the Cpanel? Well, if you don’t have a host, then you…don’t.
See why I listed website hosting as #1?
You are probably thinking, “that is great and all but how can I do it?“
3. Image Optimization
If you’re a first-time reader, you’ve probably noticed that we mention image optimization quite a bit and for a good reason! Images have the potential to take up A LOT of data on your site before they are optimized. Why does that matter? They can slow down your website significantly and well, unnecessarily if you don’t optimize them!
For example, having to load images that use up 500kb (P.S. pictures taken with mobile devices can easily exceed 2.5MB!) of data slow things down on their own. Also, having multiple images on a single page adds to lag.
So what can you do? Well, manually resizing images can take a while depending on how many you have to do. The better option is to use a plugin like Smush Image Compression and Optimization. It simplifies everything and can save you a lot of time!
4. Content Delivery Network
Using Content Delivery Networks (also known as CDNs) are becoming super popular (and extremely necessary) for any website! If you sell online, offer tons of content that anyone can use, have a brick-and-mortar company or even entirely remote, you need a CDN! Why? Because you want to deliver content to viewers at a consistent speed, no matter where they live.
CDNs are how you do that!
Oh, and they also help with SEO. How so? They improve website speed, which is an SEO factor!
So How do CDNs work? In general, a CDN service has multiple servers distributed throughout the world. Those servers then communicate with your web host (another reason web hosting is #1 on our list!) to keep the site’s content up-to-date. Then when someone visits your site (no matter where they live), they automagically access your site quicker via the nearest server.
In a nutshell, without the help of a CDN and the further away your visitor is from your web host’s physical location, the longer a site takes to load.
I suggest using either Cloudflare and MaxCDN to get your site consistently loading faster. (I’ve used them both before and had no complaints!)
Disclaimer: I saved the “scariest” thing for last. (kidding!)
Many people lack experience with programming, even if they have a website. And guess what? Lots of those sites do just fine! Nowadays we have tons of testing tools to help us with coding. No longer are the days where you have to memorize dictionary-size amounts of code and then frantically type it all out before you forget. That’s not how it works anyway! Except for maybe in…Hollywood?
Here are a couple of options:
- Combine files to lower the number of server requests. (NOT recommended if you aren’t familiar with programming since it could break your site.)
- Enable minification on your CDN! It might take a little bit of time for your CDN to process the info (depends on the size of your site). However, it’s way easier and A LOT less time consuming than the manual routes.
- If you don’t have a CDN, use plugins or add-ons within your content management system (WordPress, etc.). If this is the case, you can use WP Fastest Cache or Autoptimize to help minify (remove unnecessary data) from your code.
Your site’s speed is essential when it comes to website optimization, SEO, and your online success. The key to keep in mind is always to provide a good user-experience when optimizing.
Side note: You don’t have to use all of these techniques to make your website run faster. However, the most significant improvements will most likely come from cache, image optimization, and using a CDN.
More info on Website Analysis and Optimization
So there you have it, five ways to improve that all-important website speed! If you’re looking for more website optimization tips, check out these posts:
- How to avoid over-optimizing a website
- Tools to help you improve website speed
- How to solve duplicate content issues
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