One of the things that website owners need to be more aware of is their site loading speed. Most websites owners intuitively know that it’s an important aspect of their website. However, they don’t understand to what degree that website loading speed affects their business. Here is how much it can have an impact.
- A Google Analytics study showed that 53 percent of mobile users abandoned websites that took longer than 3 seconds to load. This means your sales are potentially cut by more than half.
- Loading speed has been a ranking factor for desktop searches. Earlier this year, Google announced that it would become a ranking factor for mobile searches as well. So if you have an existing SEO campaign, it’s essential to optimize for faster load speeds.
- Loading speeds go beyond the homepage. An Optimizely study showed that a four second delay in loading time resulted in an 11.02 percent decrease in page views. Also, with every few additional seconds, page views continued to decrease. If high engagement and a positive user experience are one of your goals, you need to focus on the entire site.
So How Can You Improve Loading Speeds?
Start with figuring out where you stand and how you can improve. Google has a free tool called PageSpeed Insights that will analyze loading speeds for both desktop and mobile devices. It will also give you recommendations and instructions on how to improve your site’s loading speeds.
Now that you know where you stand, how do you go about reducing loading times? Here is a list of several things that you can do to take a few seconds off:
- Reduce image file size: Compress your images or work with your graphics designer to reduce file size without sacrificing quality. TinyPNG is one of many free and effective image compression tools you can use.
- Use Gzip compression: This method compresses all of your server files which will result in faster downloads for users. Here is a helpful guide for enabling Gzip compression.
- Leverage browser caching: By caching static files, users won’t have to download the same files on the next page view or site visit. Here is Google’s helpful guide on browser caching.
- Use a CDN service: CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. CDN delivers files from servers that are close to where users are located. This results in faster loading time while also preserving resources for your servers. Some popular CDN service includes Akamai, Cloudflare, and Amazon AWS.
- Prioritize above the fold content: Content and media dense websites do come across a plateau where it becomes too difficult to reduce load times. In this case, it’s a good idea to load the above the fold content first. This helps users ease into the site while the content further down finishes loading.
- Switch to faster servers: The easiest way to reduce loading time is to switch to a faster server. This might mean switching from a shared hosting plan to a dedicated server. You may have to switch service providers as well.
- Disable or replace plugins: You’ll also want to disable plugins that you don’t use or don’t add much value to your users. If you have plugins that you absolutely need, look for alternatives that are smaller in file size.
That’s a quick list of things that you can do to shave seconds off your website’s loading times. Therefore, you want to use every single optimization tactic to see results with a big improvement. Some other ideas you should look into is to redesign your website using a mobile first approach or switching to a leaner theme if you’re using WordPress.
However, this isn’t an option for many businesses because a redesign can be costly and all the changes can take up a lot of your time. But if you’re starting out with a new site, it’s the ideal approach. You’ll be able to build and design a website for high conversion rates. Also, your site will have strong engagement, outstanding user experience, and potentially higher search rankings.