15 Secrets on How to Optimize Website Speed
Is your site ranking as well as it could be? Probably not, if your site speed isn’t fully optimized. In the age of the internet, the average person expects a webpage to load in 3.5 seconds. If your site isn’t loading quickly, you could be losing a lot of visitors. Of all of the Google ranking factors, site speed can be the most frustrating to optimize for. Mostly, because it’s so technical in nature. Luckily, there are precise steps you can take to optimize website speed on your blog and get found.
How Can I Measure My Website Speed?
Let’s check your initial website speed. You can do this using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. You can compare your website performance between desktop and mobile performance. Anything lower than 80% is considered slower than ideal. Google will give you specific points to optimize. Let’s go over a few of them:
How To Optimize Website Speed:
First thing’s first: Go to your Google Analytics panel. There are two very important statistics that will tell us the overall health of your website speed and if you’re losing visitors.
What is a bounce rate? It’s the percentage of users that exit your site within landing on the first page. Because you didn’t retain the user or pass them off to another page, this affects your bounce rate.
Is your bounce rate high? This could be a sign that users are dropping off before your page is loading. If your page has plenty of content to interact with, this is a sign that your content may not be loading in time before they leave the page or it isn’t very captivating. If you only have a video or image, make sure you add a quick text overview in case the other elements fail to load.
Average Session Duration
Is your Average Session Duration under 15 seconds? With such a low session duration, users aren’t staying on your site long enough to interact with your content or convert. This is usually the most serious sign that your page isn’t loading quickly enough to retain your users.
Make sure you’re using an image optimizer like Short Pixel or Tiny PNG, which yield an average lossy compression of 51%-63%. These will allow you to compress images on your website so your server isn’t forced to load the full file every time a page loads.
What is caching? Caching is the act of creating a temporary copy of your site to serve files from. That way, people are being served copies of your website from the cache instead of hitting your web host every time. There are a number of WordPress plugins that will help you cache your site instantly. W3 Total Cache and WP Fastest Cache are two of the best performing caching plugins around.
Utilize a CDN
What is a CDN? A CDN is a network of computers in localized areas that deliver content. The closer the CDN, the less time it takes to deliver the data. For instance, if you live in California, an Arizona-based CDN will be faster than a Chicago or New York-based CDN. How can you implement a CDN on your website? It’s easy. Cloudflare is one of the most popular free CDN plans around. They’ll give you a new DNS nameserver to run your site on and make sure whomever lands on your site is being served from the CDN closest to them.
The term “minify” is programming term that describes the processes of removing unnecessary characters in the source code. These characters include whitespaces, line breaks, comments, and block delimiters which are useful for us humans but unnecessary for machines. With a plugin like W3 Total Cache, you can minify your CSS and save plenty of data by sending only what the machines need to render the code.
AMP is a way to build static pages for mobile use. While your theme may not be compatible, serving your mobile pages as AMP pages increases speed tenfold. It’s one of the most important optimization features for mobile apart from using a reflexive website.
Use GZIP Compression
GZip is a free opensource algorithm for file compression that helps significantly reduce the size of data being queried. Most caching plugins like W3 Total Cache or WP Fastest Cache include GZip as one of the many types of optimization available, but you can also hardcode GZip into your site, too.
Lazy Load Images
Lazy Load is a function that allows your server to hold off on loading images until a user actually scrolls down to see the image. This means if no one is actively looking at it, your server doesn’t have to do the work to serve it. Pretty neat, right? Most caching plugins like W3 Total Cache take care of this for you, too.
Use Fewer Plugins
Have you overloaded your site with bloated plugins? You may want to check how much data your plugins are demanding using WP Checkup’s free tool. If any are overusing your site’s resources, it may be time to replace them or deactivate them.
Avoid Multiple Page Redirects
Is your page being redirected more than once? Bouncing a URL between redirects means the user has to query each individual URL before reaching its final destination. It’s fine if you’re redirecting your users to the secure HTTPS version of your page, but try not to bounce them around too much.
Minimize Third Party Usage
Are you running a lot of different tracking codes or third party code on your page? You may need to pick and choose or make sure your code is loading asynchronously to help save your server from doing extra work.
Remove Unused CSS
Perhaps its your theme that’s a bit bloated and full of unused CSS. Take a look at this handy guide to learn how to analyze and delete parts of your CSS that aren’t being used.
Optimize Your Databases
Keeping lots of junk saved in your database can really gum up the works. Routinely doing maintenance on your website’s database can help it respond faster to user requests. Using a plugin like WP Optimize can completely automate database maintenance for you. You can even schedule cleanings.
Serve Images In Next-Gen Formats
JPEG 2000, JPEG XR, and WebP are image formats that have superior compression and quality characteristics compared to their older JPEG and PNG counterparts. Encoding your images in these formats rather than JPEG or PNG means that they will load faster and consume less cellular data. You can serve your images in WebP mode by utilizing that function with the Short Pixel WP Plugin.
Upgrade to latest stable version of PHP
PHP is the language your website functions on, but if your site isn’t using the latest version, it could be affecting your performance. Each webhost will have a slightly different way to migrate your website to the latest version of PHP, or they may manage it for you. If you have Siteground, it’s as easy as selecting the version you want and clicking a button.
Using Google Search Console’s Experimental Speed Report
If you use Google Search Console like every good website owner does, you can also take advantage of Google’s new experimental feature that lets you check the number of fast pages on your website so you know exactly which pages need to be optimized. If all of your pages, including your homepage, are running slow, it’s likely your entire website, including theme and plugins, are what you need to optimize website speed.