If you are building a website (or if you have decided to optimize an existing one) you have to pay special attention to how fast your site loads. It should come as no surprise – as we live on a social media-dominated, fast-paced world – that your website’s page speed is what could make or break your relationship with your userbase. Studies show that taking more than two seconds to load is detrimental for user experience — most people decide to leave if it takes more than three. User experience is everything, but there are other important things related to page speed. What is page speed? How does it work? And what makes it important?

What is page speed?

Simply put, page speed refers to how fast a website loads, it’s a term coined by developers and SEO specialists. The right way to measure page speed is via page load time or time to first byte. The first one is determined by how long your webpage takes to fully load, the latter is determined by how long your web server takes to connect with your internet browser and deliver the first byte of information. The page load time average is an astonishing 4.7 seconds, the “TIFB” average is 1.2 seconds.

When it comes to page speed, several factors come into play — most of them intrinsically important for your website as well. How you present your website’s layout as well what’s in it can determine page speed — and whether your users decide to stay or leave before everything loads.

Why is it important?

As you know, page speed is incredibly important for user experience. But there’s another reason why page speed is crucial for you to grow and maintain your userbase: SEO ranking. Google has publicly expressed page speed importance and how it affects your website’s ranking. The fastest your page speed is, the better your website will rank within Google’s algorithm. This should be a given, due to how much Google cares about user experience. Another important detail related to page speed and SEO ranking is how many pages can crawlers visit before they leave your website. The faster the pages will loads the better crawlers will do to index several pages from your website — the more you’ll appear in Google’s search results.

How can I improve my website’s page speed?

There are several changes and modifications you can do to improve your page speed, here are the 8 most important ones:

1. Compress your file sizes

There are several tools you can use to do this. No matter which one you pick, make sure you use it to compress any file larger than 150 kb. Target anything related to HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. But do not try to compress images using the same software or you’ll lose a lot of resolution quality. How you deal with images is an entirely different subject matter.

2. Image optimisation

When it comes to images, it takes a little bit longer to optimize your content — as you want to have the perfect relationship between compression and quality. You will have to research which filetype is best for your pictures (for example, JPEG is great for photographs, but you shouldn’t use it for other things like image illustration – where you need attention to detail – that’s where PNG comes in handy). You should see how much you can compress an image before it loses more quality than it should. It’s a case by case basis.

3. Remove internal redirects

Each time your website redirects itself to one of its pages your browser becomes slower. Let’s say for example you have a website called www.domain.com and your homepage is located at www.domain.com/homepage. Your page speed is slower than it should, as your users get redirected from www.domain.com to www.domain.com/homepage before everything fully loads. Making sure you optimize this is key for page speed.

4. Make sure your server response time is right

Your server response time is not affected by one thing but by all the things you have on your website. It doesn’t matter what it is: traffic you may receive, your hosting, the software you may use and the content you have. If you want to improve your server response time, you need to check where your “performance bottlenecks” are and fix them. Server response should be always under 200m.

5. Make the most out of browser caching

Make sure you use browser caching as much as you can. When an internet browser “caches” information, it doesn’t have to download it all over again after a first visit. Make sure your website caches as much vital information as it can to improve user performance after the first visit. You should bear in mind you should program your cache to expire eventually — cache expiration cycles should be thought around how long do you take to change your website’s design and important content.

6. Use content delivery networks

A content delivery network (also known as CDN) are servers used to distribute the workload of delivering content to the user. The more you have, the faster your information will load — and the more available it will be. Using the right amounts of CDNs is crucial to have a faster, more reliable website.

7. Try to use as little scripts as possible

One of the things Google recommends is to remove (or at least minimize the use of) any script you have on your website, as it delays page speed. When your browser finds a script, it must deal with it before further loading the rest of the website. Scripts can turn a fast page speed into a slower website.

8. Check how good you are doing periodically

Once you have made the right modifications, make sure your website is as fast as it should using SEO speed checkers. There are multiple available online and you should use more than one to see if your strategy is working out or not. You should also periodically check how your page speed is doing, whether you are making changes to your website or not — remember increased traffic will also delay your page speed!

Still confused about what to do or need someone else to look after the issuers for you then a simple call to Nettonic Ltd on 01234 261385 can start the process

About the Author

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Mirko Humbert

Mirko Humbert is the editor-in-chief and main author of Designer Daily and Typography Daily. He is also a graphic designer and the founder of WP Expert.