Is Your Website’s Speed Up to Snuff?

The speed at which desktop sites load has long been a factor in Google’s ranking algorithm, but recently Google announced that the page load time of mobile sites are now also going to be factored in when ranking sites in its search engine pages. We have previously mentioned that website performance, especially slowly loading pages, can have a detrimental effect on your online business. Now, not only are your desktop site’s page load speeds going to affect your Google rankings, but your mobile page load speeds may affect your rankings as well. While slow load times aren’t as detrimental as full-blown website downtime, in the cut-throat world of ecommerce, these speeds can and do play a factor in the success of your website.

It is also important to remember that Google isn’t the sole reason you should be minimizing your site’s page load times. Not only does Google care about your page load times, but website visitors care as well. More than 80 percent of website visitors expect a page to load in less than 3 seconds. About 40 percent of website visitors will leave a web page that takes more than 3 seconds to load and nearly 80 percent of those who have trouble with the performance of a website won’t come back to that site in the future. A mere 1 second delay in the load time of a website page can result in a 7 percent loss in conversions. So how can you improve the page load times of your website? Here are some ways to ensure your website is operating at peak performance and pages are loading quickly.

Consider a CDN (Content Delivery Network)

In some cases, a CDN can help you with slow-loading website pages. With a CDN, you are able to transfer static files to servers that are closer to the users who are requesting the files. This definitely helps to improve page load times. While smaller websites won’t usually benefit from the use of a CDN, larger websites hoping to decrease page load times can often benefit greatly from such services. The good news is these services are becoming more affordable and less complicated to use.

Image Optimization

We have discussed image optimization in previous posts and the stance is still the same. If you want fast load times for your site’s pages, you need to optimize the images on your site’s pages. This goes for both desktop and mobile websites. Make sure you are using the right format (never use TIF files) and be sure to utilize tools that will help you compress the file size of the images your site displays. You can also use sprites. A CSS Sprite is a way to combine a number of images into a single image file. This can save server bandwidth and decrease your page load times.

Never Self-Host Videos

If your website incorporates videos, don’t self-host them. Video files, by nature, are quite large in size. Getting those videos to load on your website can be a nightmare in terms of page load times. Instead, be sure to utilize the services of a third-party video hosting service and then put the code the service provides you with into your webpage.

Don’t Use Too Many Plug-Ins

Plug-ins can be a great tool, but you can have too much of a good thing. Using too many plug-ins will slow down your site’s pages. Make sure you choose only the plug-ins you need and use. Any plug-ins that are unnecessary should be deactivated and deleted. Doing this can drastically improve your site’s page load times.

Improve Server Response Time

Sometimes you may need to switch hosting providers if you want to minimize page load times. Some hosting providers just can’t provide your site with the load times your pages need. You might also consider removing any render-blocking JavaScript and making it asynchronous. Also remember that parsing JavaScript for mobile browsers can increase your mobile site’s page load times. Decrease mobile page load times by deferring the parsing of unnecessary JavaScript tags.

Avoid Redirects

Redirects may be convenient, but they aren’t an effective way to optimize your website. Redirects almost always require extra processing time, which equates to pages loading at a slower rate. Be sure you serve your mobile site directly to your visitors rather than using redirects to do the job.

Monitor the Performance of Your Site

Be sure to partner with a quality website monitoring service. A quality website monitoring service will not only notify you of any website downtime your site may encounter, but it will also help you keep an eye on the performance of your site in general. If your website is facing performance issues that result in pages that don’t load quickly enough, a quality website monitoring service can help you understand what may be causing the performance issues so you can correct those issues before they have a significant impact on your business’s bottom line.

The Bottom Line

While website downtime is something you should be avoiding at all costs, performance issues and slowly-loading website pages have just as much of an impact on the reputation and success of your online business. Be sure to partner with a quality website monitoring service to help you mitigate damage from either one of these website disasters.