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Knowledge Hub

Knowledge Hub

5 Ways to Quickly Improve Your Website's Optimisation! (Load Speed)

 A short video for you to learn 5 ways to improve your website's optimisation! (Load Speed)

“There’s nothing better than sitting back with a cup of coffee and relaxing for five to ten minutes while you wait for a website to load,” said nobody ever. Let’s face it, regardless of whether your business is focused on the B2B or B2C market, you need a fast website in order to keep customers and clients engaged and to prevent them from leaving your website before the site has even had a chance to load.

If your website takes more than four seconds to load, then you could lose up to 45% of your potential website traffic. Anyone that clicks the back button due to a slow loading website is bound to go straight to your competitors too, which not only means you lose clients but also negatively affects your search engine performance, as well as the effectiveness of your overall marketing strategy.

In this article, we go over some of the easy steps you can take to optimise your website speed and keep those customers interested and engaged. 

Need help with your marketing, web design, or improving your website speed? – Feel free to reach out to us to discuss how we can help support your business’s growth.

Why You Need a Fast Website

The fact of the matter is that people are impatient nowadays. If a site takes too long to load, then people are going to press the back button and visit a different website that’s going to give them what they are looking for quicker. Unless you’re in an extremely under-served niche, chances are your customers are spoilt for choice anyway and will, therefore, be less patient.

When it comes to your SEO, this is disastrous since they will go straight to your competitors. The bouncing from your site to your competitor’s website also shows search engines like Google that your competitor’s site is better. This can quickly make your website rankings drop if your competitor’s site is a lot faster than your site is. However, the onslaught of negative effects of a slow website speed doesn’t end there!

Advertising

If you’re spending your hard-earned money on advertising, be it PPC advertising by way of Google and Facebook ads, or traditional forms of advertising like radio ads, posters, and flyers, then your website speed is just as important. The fact that you’re directly paying for people to click your link means it’s more important than ever to ensure you make the most out of every click. If up to 45% of people are leaving your site due to the fact it’s too slow, then it will dramatically reduce the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns as fewer people actually view the website before hitting the back button.

Social Media

Social media is time-consuming, which means it’s expensive. That being said, it can bring in a lot of new clients and is extremely profitable when done right. Without a fast loading website, the chances of people leaving before they have even spent any time on your site are huge. That means at least a portion of the time or money you spend on social media are being wasted due to your website’s performance. That isn’t to say it will be completely ineffective, but you should see better results when your site is optimised.

Branding

Why spend all that time and money designing and developing a great website when the majority of people bounce due to slow loading times, without even viewing the site? Often, large issues in load times are quick to solve and ensure the money you’ve spent on your other marketing channels doesn’t go to waste. The same is true for your branding and web design.

Haven’t started working on your branding yet? – Check out our latest post featuring five top tips on positioning your brand in 2020!

As you can see, your website’s loading speed can be a huge bottleneck in your business, potentially costing you thousands of pounds per month. Your company website is often used as a point of reference for all your marketing efforts, as well as as a direct marketing channel by way of SEO. That’s what makes your website so important when it comes to your marketing. But, how do you know when you need to improve your website speed? More on this now. 

When do you Need to Optimise Your Website Speed?

In all truth, if there are tips in this blog post that you haven’t implemented, it’s worth getting them done regardless of your current website speed. This is the low hanging fruit, and even if you go from a six-second load time to a four-second load time, there are still benefits on the user’s side. Since these changes are so easy for you or your developer to implement, they’re almost always worth doing.

In general, it’s almost always worth trying to get your website’s load time down to three seconds. This holds true for both mobile and desktop versions of your site. The amount of optimisation worth doing above this mark depends on the money you are spending on other marketing channels, as well as the number of people visiting your website. Improving your bounce rate by one percent can have a huge impact on a large website, but may not make a noticeable difference on a smaller one.

You can check your website speed using a variety of different tools, some of which include GTmetrix, Pingdom Tools, Google Page Speed Insights, and webpagetest.org.

Tip: Test your website using multiple tools at different times during the day/week. In general, your website will load slightly differently depending on the current load on your server. Testing in a variety of different ways and at different times helps you to understand your website loading times better.

Another important tip is to not get too hung up on the scores these tools give. The scores help to indicate some of the changes you or a developer can make to the site to speed it up, but a low score doesn’t have to mean a slow site and a high score doesn’t mean the site is fast. Use the scores as a guideline but focus on page weight, the number of requests, and, most importantly, the load time itself!

This will also help you to check if the work done by an agency or developer is generating the right results without you needing any technical knowledge.

As with all marketing, it’s about optimising, but not over-optimising. Wasted money is just as damaging to your business as a slow website speed is, so it’s advised to consult with a professional or agency who’s in a better position to gauge how much speed optimisation should be done on your website. Even though they cost money, they can save you money in the long run!

Easy Steps to Optimise Your Site Speed

By now you’re aware of why you need to optimise your website’s speed, so let’s get into the actionable tips. Here are some easy steps you can take to optimise your website’s loading speed. Should there be any steps that you’re not familiar with or that you’d like to outsource, feel free to reach out to us to discuss the possibilities. 

Still not convinced? – Our post on why website speed is so important might be right for you!

Reduce Image Sizes

We see it all the time: a beautiful website, designed with passion but lacking performance. The most common culprit? – A huge 4MB image being used as the banner, along with multiple other huge images throughout the website. Image sizes are all-too-often forgotten when a website is created, and this can result in ridiculous load times.

A website commonly has five to ten different images, logos, and icons on their homepage, let alone blog posts and other pages. Large file sizes can slow your website down by a huge amount. We’ve seen sites go from twenty to thirty-second load times to load times under the five-second mark by optimising just a hand full of images. If the images are already somewhat optimised, then these tips will have less of an impact, but the changes in the size of a page can still be substantial in a lot of cases.

There are different ways you or a developer can reduce the sizes of your images, like compressing them, resizing them, or serving them using an external resource. Ideally, you’ll mix compression and resizing in all cases, but using a content delivery network is best to use only when you have a large website. We’ll cover each here briefly!

Compression

Compressing an image can be done without making any visible changes to the image quality. When done properly, compressing an image should almost always get the image file size to near the 100MB mark, if not less than that. It’s best practice to keep all images under the 100KB to prevent them from taking up too much of your server’s resources. Image compression can be done using various free online tools (Google is your friend), or using Paint or Photoshop. There are also various plugins available on WordPress, but it’s best to do it manually wherever possible for the best effect.

Resizing

Scaling your image to the exact dimensions you need helps to reduce file size, too. This can be done for mobile, desktop, and tablet, and keeps the image file size down to a minimum. The more that can be done directly, the less that needs to be solved using code and the fewer resources it will take up.

Combining resizing with compression helps to get the best results, and it’s rare to see an image top the 100KB file size when both of these techniques are used together.

Serving Images From an External Source

Commonly called a content delivery network (CDN), these external resources can help speed up your site by allowing images to be served from closer to the user’s location, and using a separate server which lightens the load on your own server. This reduces the load on your own server as all of the heavy images will be provided to the user by the CDN. 

It’s advised to work with a consultant or agency when going through any of these changes unless you’re well versed in marketing and development. There are a lot of other factors at stake when making changes to your website, so it’s always best to work together with someone that understands your needs and the different factors at play.

Remove Inline Styling

Put simply, inline styling means that extra code is added to a page’s HTML file instead of separately using a CSS file. Using inline styling almost always leads to more code being used to get the same effect, which means more “weight” to the file and thus your website taking a longer time to load. CSS is great for design elements as it allows you to apply changes to larger parts of your website with less code.

By removing inline style sheets and moving them to a CSS file, you can reduce your website’s load time. That being said, it’s best to contact a developer or agency to help you tackle this task to prevent anything going wrong.

Various content management systems like WordPress can help make these things easier. If you’re using WordPress, there are a lot of plugins that could possibly help you in improving your website speed, as well as removing inline styling. 

Minify your CSS and Javascript Files

Code is filled with line breaks and spaces that serve no purpose other than allowing us humans to read the code. All this white space, all comments, and all other unnecessary code leads to a larger file size. When files are minified, all this white space is removed, reducing the file size and therefore speeding up your website.

Minifying your CSS is made super easy on most content management systems like WordPress by way of plugins that can automate it for you. However, it is also easy to do manually if you insert your code into a specially designed CSS minification tool. This will then minimise your code for you and send it back without all the unnecessary extra code.

When it comes to Javascript, it’s usually very easy for a developer or agency to handle, but it’s not advised to do this yourself unless you have a backup at hand and reasonable knowledge about the CMS or technology you’re using. 

You can also minify your HTML files, which is done in the same way as minifying CSS files. 

Host Videos Externally

Embedding videos onto your page directly means that your own server has to send the video to the person viewing your website. When you host your videos on external platforms like YouTube or Vimeo, much of this load is given to them which improves load times of your own site. Since your server isn’t baring the load of these images and most video hosting platforms have extremely advanced and quick setups, it can drastically improve a page’s speed.

These videos can usually act as an extra marketing channel too since they are visible on the platforms you host them on. This helps to drive more website visitors if done right.

Important: When you embed videos from other platforms, make sure to keep an eye on the cookies on your website. Often, platforms like YouTube will add cookies to your site which may make your privacy policy and/or cookie policy outdated.

Unfortunately, with governments worldwide cracking down on online privacy, the tracking cookies third parties add to your website become your responsibility. Always make sure your privacy policy is updated and that you have a cookie notice that blocks the cookies until they have been accepted.

Only Load the Fonts You Need

If you’re using Google fonts, then the chances are you’re loading way more fonts than you are actually using, which can slow down your website considerably. WordPress themes or other content management systems may also be loading a lot more fonts than you are actually using. Since themes are often built in such a way that provide users with flexibility, it’s extremely common for them to load more fonts than you’re actually using.

To remove these fonts, first list the fonts you are actually using. Then, run a speed test and go to the waterfall chart. This is a chart provided by pretty much all speed testing tools. On this chart, you can see every single resource loaded by your webpage. Check to see if there are any fonts that are being loaded but aren’t being used and remove them from your site. You should see your website load times improve, as well as the number of requests reduce.

Remove all Wasted Resources

The tip given above goes for all other wasted resources too. Sometimes, things like social media icons, logos, and other resources which provide functionality which isn’t being used on a webpage are still being loaded. This can be a big problem on WordPress websites or other websites that use templates or external libraries. This is down to the flexibility that they want to provide their users, but is sometimes caused by plugins too.

To do this, either go through the waterfall chart yourself or consult with an agency or developer to ensure your website is only loading that which is actually being used on the page.

Enable Caching

Caching allows a browser to “remember” web pages visited previously for a certain span of time. This prevents the browser from having to get the resources off the server and allows sites that were visited previously to load super fast. Each time a user navigates to the site after the first visit, the browser doesn’t load the entire page but only that which it hasn’t “remembered” from the last visit. This saves a lot of time, and although it doesn’t always create a noticeable speed change when testing your website’s speed, it does create a better and faster user experience for your users!

Tip: Another quick fix to improving load times is allowing a developer or agency to allow for server-side caching too. This works in much the same way as browser caching, but then using your server. This reduces the time it takes your server to respond which can improve your site speed substantially in some instances.

Lazy Load Images

Although this isn’t something we recommend in all situations as it can cause some design issues, lazy loading can be a very easy way to reduce the load time of a webpage. Lazy loading simply prevents all images that aren’t visible from being loaded until the viewer scrolls down and the image moves onto the screen.

Lazy loading images can be a very easy way of shaving off some of your website’s load time but isn’t always the best solution. It’s called lazy loading for a reason!

Allow Compression

There are various forms of compression, the most common one is Gzip compression which can drastically reduce the size of your web pages site-wide. Most normal hosting companies will provide you with a Cpanel that gives you access to your website’s files. There are many great tutorials online about allowing Gzip compression, and all it requires is you pasting a code snippet into your website’s .htaccess file.

If you have no experience working with file manager, be careful to follow the steps carefully and make sure you have a backup at hand and know how to restore your website. If this isn’t the case, work with a developer or agency to prevent issues from arising. 

Conclusion

It’s no secret that website speed can be extremely important to how your website performs, but also how your other marketing channels perform. A fast website will keep your visitors engaged and improve the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. By following the tips laid out in this blog post, we’re sure you can reduce your load time substantially.

Facing difficulties improving your website’s load time? – Get in touch to discuss how we can help you to improve your website’s performance.

No Risk. Just Reward. Guaranteed!