Looking for tips on how to make your website and web pages load faster? Not many people know that site loading speed is actually a key ranking factor in Search Engine Optimization. It could hit all the right boxes but if it’s slow, it will affect your position in the SERPs (search engine rankings page).
To avoid all that, I’ll hand you over to Holly Christie, website designer and developer from This Demanding Life. She’s kindly written the guest blog below, sharing her technical expertise and 7 tips to speed up your website…
It doesn’t matter how beautiful your website is, how well written the copy is, or how strong the brand reputation is, if it’s pages are slow to load your visitors will not stick around to read it and most importantly, buy from you.
On top of this, page speed is one of the top indicators as to whether the search engines will choose to display your website in their results, or pass over to your competitors.
Here are 7 things you can do today to change the loading speed of your website.
1. Check Server
The server is the first place to look when it comes to your website loading speeds. If you have access to your website hosting, login to your server and make sure that you’re running the newest version of php as this will also be the fastest and will make a big difference to the page loading speeds.
Next, go onto your dashboard and search ‘status’. Check everything here is in green. If there’s anything in red then, if you feel confident, change the settings on your server, if you don’t feel confident then contact the company you are hosting with and ask them to do it.
If your website is hosted on SquareSpace, Wix or Shopify, you won’t have access to your server but if you run a speed test and your website isn’t performing as you’d like it to, then contact their support and ask them to help you sort it out.
2. Focus on Above The Fold Design
Don’t worry if you haven’t heard the term ‘above the fold’ before. It refers to the first section of the website which loads on a mobile device. It’s really important that this first section is uncomplicated and loads quickly as it will affect your overall search engine ranking. The faster it loads, the more chance Google will choose your website.
This blog post explains how mobiles handle a desktop website design, breaking it into columns. If you want amazing above the fold speeds then consider building a separate Header/top container for mobiles only and hide the desktop version from mobiles.
3. Images – Sizing & Formatting
Images are one of the biggest culprits at slowing down websites. A lot of this is because there is not enough information easily available about what size and type of images to include on your website.
As a rule, you won’t need an image greater than 2560px for your website and you should only use one of this size if you’re planning on using it as a hero (full screen) image. Otherwise, size it down to fit the space you want it in. If you’re using a layout which has 2 columns and your site width is 2000px then you would think an image in 1 column should be 1000px wide. It’s not quite as straightforward as that if you’re going to include the column margins, scroll bar width etc. In this instance, an image of 800px wide would work well.
It’s not just about the image size, the format will also play a big part. In most cases you’ll want to use jpegs as the image format on your website. If you need to have a translucent background, where an image may overlay another one or a coloured background, then go for a png file. Be aware that pngs take up a lot more resources than jpegs so use them sparingly.
Finally, compress the images you add to your website. You can use a free online compression tool or save them as a WebP image. You can also use an image compression plugin on your website but you’re better off adjusting your image sizes and compressing them before adding them to the website.
4. Clickable & Animated Elements
Animation can be an effective tool for jazzing up a website and used well, can change the feel of the site. However, it’s important to understand what the cons of these can be.
They add resources to the server which can effect the page speed. They don’t work on mobile and search engines can go as far as not including websites that use animation in the mobile search results. They particularly do this for websites that use a hover or pop-over effect.
It’s also important that clickable elements aren’t placed too close together as this can effect mobile SEO. Therefore when using clickable elements, make sure it’s a button, image or text within the column that is clickable and not the column itself.
5. Lazy Load images
Most website themes will have an option for you to lazy load images. This means the image doesn’t load until the visitor is viewing that part of the page. You know when you go on a site and it feels like magic – the image appearing as you reach it? That’s the lazy-load function working. This is a great option for speeding up your website pages because it means the server doesn’t have to download the images for the page before you view it, shaving off valuable loading time.
There are times where you won’t want lazy loading – for example, if you have a Header image at the top of the page. In this case, you can choose to skip lazy loading for that image or page.
6. Use a Cache plugin
Cacheing plugins are an essential part of making sure your website loads properly and quickly. The way they work is they take a snapshot of your website and store that on the server. When your browser makes a request to view the website, rather than having to load the live site, the snapshot is delivered from the server, meaning it has already loaded. This saves a lot of time and the Cache plugin will also have settings to best deliver and group the different website scripts running on the page.
7. Consider using a Cloud Delivery Network (CDN)
A cloud delivery network is a group of servers that all have your website snapshot stored on it and when someone views your website they do it from the server closest to them meaning they’ll have the highest speed possible. For example, if your visitor is in America, viewing a UK website, if they have to access it from a UK server, they could have a bit of a wait, whereas if you’re using a CDN, they’ll view the site from an American server. This applies all over the world. Most mainstream hosts use CDNs for delivering websites. You host it in the country you’re in and they do the rest. If your website host isn’t yet offering a CDN, it’s worth switching to one that does.
Whether you’re able to implement all of these steps or just some of them, they will make a difference to your page speeds and ultimately, your SEO. If you know your images are too big, block out some time to replace them with resized versions (remember to delete the old ones from your media library). If you’re unable to access your hosting yourself, get in touch with support and have them work on the server for you, they’ll probably make some good recommendations too. A fast-loading website will always put you ahead of your competitors and the more eyes on your website, the more sales you’ll make.
About the Author:
Holly Christie is Head Girl at This Demanding Life where she specialises in building websites which are findable, bringing in leads and making sales. Holly’s aim is to get small businesses on the map with a website that more than stands up to the competition out there.
If sleek design and high attention to detail are qualities you love and you want a website which projects the very best version of you and your business (even when you’re on the sofa in sweats watching Netflix) then check her out at: thisdemandinglife.com.