The 7 easiest improvements to speed up your website

It’s not a secret that Google PageSpeed is an important ranking factor for SEO. Google’s Addy Osmani and Ilya Grigorik said it themselves: "users want to find answers to their questions quickly and data shows that people really care about how quickly their pages load."  This is one of the reasons why SiteGuru uses (mobile) PageSpeed to measure the speed at which your website loads. In this article, I’ll summarize 7 quick wins to help you improve your website’s speed.

Why should I bother to speed up my website?

On average, you lose 7% in conversions per extra second that your page takes to load completely. It works the other way around as well. Take Walmart's website for example. While speeding up their website, the team noticed that for every second of improvement, conversions went up by 2%. Especially if you’ve got an e-commerce website, you really want to speed it up.

What is PageSpeed?

The definition of PageSpeed differs, depending on who you will ask this question too. For me, the most important part is the time it takes for the page to fully load. Others will tell you the time to the first byte, how long it takes for a page to start loading, is more important. Thankfully for SEO’s around the world, Google developed an arbitrary system that measures the speed of websites and pages: Google PageSpeed Insights. This score is anywhere between 0 and 100, with 100 being the best score possible.

The factors that influence the PageSpeed score are listed in SiteGuru’s article about PageSpeed. This blog focuses on a more practical topic. Here are 7 quick wins to improve your website’s speed.

1. Optimize images

One thing that I did not do at all when I was creating my first website, was taking the size of images into account. The better the quality, the bigger the file size, was my perspective. Unfortunately, all those large images massively increase the loading times. Try to optimize images, so they are not more than 100 kb each.

2. Cache your website

Caching is the practice of storing website content on devices, improving the loading speed of the website. This means that during a second time on a website, some elements do not have to be downloaded from the server again. They are stored on your computer. The easiest way to enable caching on your website depends on your Content Managing System (CMS).

You can use the advice of SiteGuru’s Page Speed article to improve your website’s speed right away. The SEO Academy has tons of interesting articles on improving the technical aspect of your website.

3. Go through various hosting options

Needless to say, hosting has an enormous impact on the page speed of your website. Most providers offer different hosting options. The best hosting is the one that fits your website best, there is no overall all-time best.

That being said, there is the best option for your particular website. You want to consider a hosting company from your area since this is where the servers will be located as well. It does not necessarily need to be in your city, but it should definitely be in your country at least.

Another hosting related improvement is the type of hosting you are using. Shared hosting is usually the cheapest, starting from $ 5,- per month. For low traffic websites this is usually fine, but keep in mind that traffic spikes can affect your uptime. Not only spikes on your website, but also on other pages that are on the same server.

4. Choose a content delivery network

Another very effective method for speeding up your website is the use of a content delivery network (CDN). This method comes in extra handy if you have visitors from all over the world. A CDN uses a network of servers that allow you to store certain static elements of your website, for example, Javascript, CSS, videos, images, PDF’s, etc. When a visitor lands on your site from another part of the globe, the stored elements will be provided from a local server, reducing the time it takes for the content to reach the browser.

5. Apply lazy loading

This tips works best if you have pages filled with a lot of content. Applying lazy loading to your website will make the website prioritize the loading of elements above-the-fold, in the upper part of the website. This makes it possible for your website to load just what the user sees, instead of loading all of your images already. Especially for bloggers and websites with lots of images, lazy loading could reduce loading time a lot. WordPress users can download tons of free lazy loading plugins.

6. Reconsider plugins you’re using

Speaking of plugins, while these add ons can come in very handy, they are also usually a lot of weight for your website. Going through your list of installed plugins can probably give you 2 or 3 plugins that you don’t necessarily need. By removing them, you are drastically improving your website’s loading speed.

Some of the most popular plugins are also notorious for slowing down your website. Take AddThis, Contact Form 7, Divi Builder, Facebook Chat and Jetpack for example. Other plugins, like Yoast, come with selectable features. I’m a big fan of Yoast, but don’t use some of the features. These can be easily disabled, to improve site speed some more.

7. Add site speed to your to-do list

This might be the most obvious advice of all. Improving your website’s speed is a constant, never-ending process. Your website evolves over time, and so will the loading speed. That’s why it’s worth it put site speed permanently on your to-do list. This is where SiteGuru takes some things off your plate. The suggestions arrive in your mailbox regularly, including the advice regarding page speed.