When you think of website performance, consider how your website runs. Sure, your website design, products, and customer service play a key role in customer retention, but website performance is the gears that keep things running smoothly.
Website speed is the biggest indicator of website performance. After all, speed is officially a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm, and it affects the user experience. Every second of load time counts. According to the Aberdeen Group, a 1-second page delay could result in a 7% loss in conversions, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and 11% fewer page views. There are many things you can do to put the odds in your favor. When it comes to improving conversions and performance, even Sponsored Search can help. Whether you realize it or not, your ad performance is directly linked to your landing page performance, and therefore your website speed. AdWords states in their help files:
“Your landing page is the URL people arrive at after they click your ad, and the experience you offer affects your Ad Rank and therefore your CPC and position in the ad auction. Your ads may show less often (or not at all) if they point to websites that offer a poor user experience.”
Furthermore, another study from Akamai found that a visitor will abandon a website if it doesn’t load within three seconds. You can check your website speed for free through tools like GTMetrix, which provide a range of stats when you submit your URL for a speed test. Here are a few amazing changes you can make to improve your website performance:
Large images take much longer to load, so it’s important to keep them as small as possible without compromising quality. For basic image optimization, use standard editing tools to maintain optimum size. Always crop your images to the size of your page and reduce your color depth. For the best possible user experience, make sure your image format is JPEG, as not all browsers support PNG. Lastly, always include your source attribute, which looks like <img src=“”> in your HTML. If this is left blank, it could cause issues for you by adding unnecessary traffic to your servers.
Reduce HTTP Requests
An HTTP request is when your browser receives data from the server. The more HTTP requests your site processes, the slower your page will load. This is because as your page loads, each element, from images to stylesheets, needs to be downloaded individually. There are several ways to minimize your HTTP requests, but it’s best to start with the skeleton of your design. If possible, use CSS instead of images, use less code where possible, refrain from using third-party frameworks, and reduce the amount of scripts (place them at the bottom of the page).
Eliminate Some Plugins
Too many plugins is bad news. Not only do they thwart the user experience, but are difficult to manage and can cause major headaches. Because each one is its own entity, they require different updates at different times, can crash often, some don’t work well with others, and they can even create security issues. Conduct a plugin cleanup, and eliminate any plugins that aren’t absolutely necessary. Additionally, scour the web for new plugins that might combine some of the functions you’re currently using multiple plugins for. With each new uninstall, check your site performance to see how it improved.
A redirect is a set of instructions that sends your visitors to another location or file. In layman’s terms, redirects are harmful to website performance because they create unnecessary movement for your visitor. It’s much like giving someone the wrong directions to their destination, or having them take the long route instead of the direct route. The more you can clean up your redirects, the better your page will be. The most common redirects are 301 and 301, where HTTP is used to explain that a page is moved or no longer exists. You can use a redirect mapper tool to see where redirects exist on your page. Once you’ve located all your redirects, determine which aren’t necessary and begin the removal process.
Enable Browser Caching
We mentioned minimizing HTTP requests earlier, and by enabling browser caching, this is exactly what you’re doing. With browser caching, all elements of a page are stored on the visitor’s hard drive, allowing the page to load quicker each time the person visits the site without having to send the same HTTP requests over and over. Your resources should have a cache lifetime of at least seven days,which can shave off up to two seconds of your site load time.