Improving the performance of your website: Five top tips
Website performance is a big deal. Slow sites aren’t just a turn-off for users – they’re the enemy of page one rankings, too. The likes of Google and Bing will penalise websites that don’t perform well. Sluggish load times can have a significant impact on rankings as a result. It doesn’t matter how good your content is – if the site doesn’t respond quickly enough, your rankings could still be affected.
When users do land on your site, they may well leave shortly after if they find it to be loading each page too slowly. It’s common for sluggish websites to experience high bounce rates, shorter session times and lower conversion rates, as users quickly get frustrated that they’re not able to find the information they need quickly. Even if the desktop version of your site works well, the mobile version might not: if it’s not optimised for every device, the SEO and CRO penalties can be severe.
Site speed is a big deal. But what can you do about it? Short of building a new website from the ground-up, are there any techniques you can use to cut down on loading times?
Happily, there are – and we’re going to run through five of them below. If you’ve checked your site speed and it’s not where it needs to be, here’s how you can improve it.
Switch to a different host
The reason for your website’s extended loading times may have nothing to do with the website itself. It could have something to do with the hosting provider instead. If you’ve been with the same provider for a number of years, it may be worth searching around to see what else is out there.
Many shared hosting providers offer less than stellar performance, immediately restricting the performance of your website – no matter how well optimised it is. To rectify this, consider upgrading your hosting plan or switching to a different provider. A telltale sign of a slow host server is a poor time to first byte, or TTFB.
Check your file sizes
If you’ve uploaded images to your website without compressing them beforehand, this could be holding back your site’s performance significantly. Consider installing a plugin to your website that automatically compresses image files; the smaller the file size of each web page, the less data is required to be loaded. Alternatively, you can use a site like TinyPNG to compress each image manually – sizes of under 300kb are ideal.
Have a plugin spring-clean
Keep redirects to a minimum
URL redirects can be handy, but they also result in significantly slower loading times. Use them when needed, but try not to rely too heavily on them – the fewer redirects on your site, the better!
Streamlining or ‘minifying’ the code on your website can have a noticeable effect on its performance. By removing additional characters and code that don’t need to be there, you’ll reduce the file size of each page and improve loading times as a result. There are even minifying tools out there that will help you complete this process automatically.