In today’s society, everyone is moving so fast and has to-do lists longer than a CVS receipt, so when it comes to your website loading the faster the better. If a potential client clicks on your website from Google and it takes too long to load it is almost a guarantee that they will click away and you will lose that sale. On top of that, based on years of experience, Google has shown us that the speed of your website is a critical factor for your Search Engine Optimization.
Why Load Speed is Important:
A big reason speed is important is what we already discussed which is the risk of losing potential clients. However, this is not the only reason you should make sure your load speed is as fast as possible. Google will actually penalize you when it comes to ranking if your website has poor load speed. This can be a frustrating thing if you are working hard to improve your SEO. If you want to bring in more business you need to make sure you are on the first page of Google (and shoot for that top spot of course) which means you need to have all the pieces of your SEO working together. So don’t forget to check your load speed and improve upon anything you can.
How to Test Load Speed:
So how do you test your load speed? Don’t worry you don’t need to sit down with a timer and manually check every page. Google has a tool called PageSpeed Insights that tests your page. All you have to do is input the URL of your website (it will check all of the pages on the site so you just need to input the homepage) and then click “analyze.” Google will then go through your website and give you a score out of 100 for not only your desktop speed but also your mobile speed. Depending on the score you will also be given Google’s suggestions for what is wrong. However, these suggestions are not always the most simple so we have put together a few easy fixes to help improve your score.
Tips to Fix Load Speed:
As stated above the PageSpeed Insights tool will provide its input on what is wrong but it tends to be hard to understand so here are a few simple things you can do to try to improve your speed.
1. Image Compression
One piece of your website that may be affecting your load speed negatively is your images. Visuals are always an important part of any website; however, if you use too large of an image it can actually slow down your load speed. One way to quickly compress images if you use WordPress is by using a plugin called WP Smush Image. This plugin will go through your site and let you know of any images that it is able to compress and it also allows you to upload a bunch of images in and compress them all at once. If you do not use WordPress your site may have its version of WP Smush Image or there are plenty of free tools on Google that allow you to upload and compress images. There is also another plugin that helps with images called Imagify. Imagify quickly optimizes any of the photos you have to help cut down on their size which in return speeds up your loading time. The plugin plans start at no charge but then require a small fee per month depending on how many megabytes your website requires. When compressing your image keep an eye on the resolution to make sure you don’t compromise the image quality.
2. Website Cache
When you utilize browser caching on your website you will notice a significant increase in page load speed. This is because the caching allows users’ computers to remember specific pieces of the website such as an image so that the computer does not have to load every piece of the website every time the user goes to it. Again there are plugins that can be installed to help with this. The ones you can use depend on which platform your website is built on. Below are two plugins that work well for WordPress.
One of the popular WordPress plugins is called NitroPack. There is a free version of this plugin if you don’t mind having a little banner on your website; however if you don’t want the banner and you need more features you will need to pay. The plugin actually claims to speed up your site in less than 5 minutes and does not require other plugins. On average websites actually see an increase of 69% in their page load speed when using NitroPack.
WPRocket is another plugin to help speed up a WordPress website. This one does not have a free plan so it requires users to choose between three of the paid versions. This plugin claims to be “the most powerful caching plugin in the world” It helps improve page load speed and does not require any coding which is great for those trying to fix their speed without a developer. It actually is the only caching plugin that the top Managed WordPress Hostings accept.
3. Server Response Time
The speed at which your pages load are also affected by your server response time. There are a few different ways to help this. First, you need to check your hosting. If your hosting site cannot handle your traffic then this will slow you down. Three platforms that we recommend for hosting are Namecheap, Bluehost, and Siteground. Once you have your chosen server you will want to go through the settings and optimize them for your specific needs. Many people will choose to use default settings when they are starting out; however, this can cause issues if your site doesn’t fit those specific parameters. If you need help deciding what settings will work best for you please reach out to our team. Lastly, as you add to your website you will want to check back and see how the new additions have affected your server response time. Just because you have a good response time when you first set up your website doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way. When adding new pages and images make sure to optimize them to keep your server response time low.
Page load speed isn’t always as easy as just fixing these three things; however, this is a solid start to helping you improve. When trying to optimize your website the load speed might not stand out as much as other components. However, don’t forget it because you will lose out on a lot of potential clients if your site is slow.