An effective, lead-generating website is so much more than good looks and snappy copy. It needs a well-built engine that downloads content quickly. In fact, the speed at which a site downloads has a big impact on usability, conversions and Google rankings.
By improving your website speed, you can secure more leads, more purchases and higher search engine rankings. Not sure how? Here’s a starting point.
Choose a Good Host for a Faster Website
Your website host is arguably the most important factor when it comes to load speed. A low-cost host package may look attractive from a financial standpoint, but chances are it’s on a shared hosting platform, which is a no-no when optimizing for site speed. This means you are sharing resources with hundreds of other websites on one server. Investing an additional $10+ per month for a VPS or dedicated server is well worth it in the long run.
Optimize and Scale Images to Improve Load Times
Large, high-resolutions images can bog down your site load time. All images should be optimized for the web to ensure your site loads as quickly as possible. Ideally, you’ll want to shoot for JPEG or WebP files that are less than 100KB for the best performance. PNG files carry the largest file size because they are lossless (not compressed). A PNG should only be used when transparency is needed, such as with logos.
When scaling your images, you’ll need to consider how the images are displayed. For example, if you have a small photo on the homepage, scale it down to how it’s displayed. That is, if it’s being displayed at 200px by 200px, make sure the file you upload is also 200px by 200px. Otherwise, you’d be pulling a much larger image than necessary, and chances are the file size would be larger too. This is especially important when optimizing for mobile.
Use a CDN to Load Website Resources
So how does the CDN help your website speed? A CDN puts exchange servers at exchange points between networks; this is the main way they improve speed and connectivity. The Internet exchange points (IXPs) are the main locations where different Internet providers connect to provide each other access to traffic from their own servers. CDNs essentially reduce the distance between users and website resources. Instead of the user always having to connect to the website’s origin server (the geographical location the server is physically located), the CDN lets the user connect to a geographically closer data center. Less travel time = faster load time.
CDNs can efficiently reduce the amount of data that is being transferred using methods such as file compression and minification. Smaller file size = quicker to load.
Place Less-Important Scripts Lower on Your Pages
Not all your tracking scripts need to be loaded right away, including Google Analytics and email marketing services. By placing the scripts lower on the page (in the body or even in the footer), the rest of the page can load first before the scripts are triggered, thus decreasing load time.
A redirect is what it sounds like — it automatically redirects a user to another page when they land on a specific URL. There is no action needed from the user to be redirected. You will generally use redirects when, for example, you change and/or remove products or services on your website. This prevents visitors from finding a “404 not found” error page. Redirects are a huge plus for user experience as well as SEO.
While redirects are needed as your website evolves, every redirect results in an additional HTTP request to the server that increases the end-user time before a page loads. Redirects are especially important for SEO benefits, so you should only use them when technically necessary.
If you are unsure if a redirect is necessary, check with Google for the best course of action.
The speed of your website can directly impact your business both positively and negatively. Decreasing the time it takes for visitors to interact with your website is essential to improving the overall user experience and increasing conversions.