Why your website's speed matters and what to do about it
Learn how to make your website lightning fast to get better traction with users
Most people building a website for their business are focused on making it as beautiful as possible. From the UI to the animation, every element is customized to grab attention and convey the right message.
However, many times after the website is finished, the visual finish is marred by a major problem.
The website takes forever to load.
This can be a massive deterrent for people visiting your site. Amongst users, page speed is one of the most important factors determining whether they stay on your site or abandon it to head back to the search results page.
Users today want to have a seamless experience when visiting web pages. They expect sites to have lightning fast page load speeds.
To prevent users from bouncing off your website, it's important to make your website faster. But that's definitely not a walk in the park. It's really difficult to evaluate the core reasons behind your website’s slow loading speed.
Why should you care about page speed?
Page speed is one of the most important metrics for your website, primarily due to the importance it has with the Google Search Ranking Engine. Having a low page speed could massively impact your search engine ranking.
Google is highly prioritizing web pages that load fast because it wants to improve the experience for its users. That's why it's crucial for businesses and startups to have a fast page speed for better Google SEO and subsequent customer interaction.
According to a recent study by Backlinko, Page Load Speed was the most important factor in the top 10 Google results.
This makes it mandatory for every modern-day company to optimize their page load speeds to match Google’s standards.
To meet this goal. Google has provided users with the Page speed tool to extensively check their web page for elements that contribute to page speed. A Green page load score is a huge factor for top result rankings.
Before we delve deep into the steps you can take to remedy a low page speed score, it's important to realize that throughout the general process, you need to rely on the metrics provided by Google as they're the clearest indication on the issues that might be problematic with your current web page.
Top Tip: A fast page speed helps you exponentially reduce your bounce rate.
There are a wide range of underlying causes that could be the trigger behind your website’s page speed. So let's look at some of the common culprits.
Identifying the biggest pain points
The first step of the improvement process is identifying what's thwarting your page speed.
Having an understanding of the missing elements allows you to eventually work towards a proper strategy to course-correct and remedy the situation.
Lucky for you, the Google Lighthouse open-source tool allows you to evaluate the issues present on your website, and it even gives you a list of recommended actions.
This information comes from Google, and is the most accurate representation of the missing pieces from your current page.
In most scenarios, the causes behind your website’s slow page speed will be unique to the flaws in your specific website. However, there's a range of general issues that are commonly present in most websites. Focusing on these issues can be a great way to get started with your page speed improvement.
Important aspects of page speed improvement
One of the main reasons behind page speed errors is a lack of image optimization.
Having optimized images can be a great way to exponentially increase your page load speed.
How to optimize images?
Images are the focal point of most websites. Your site would look pretty bland without them. Unfortunately, combining a large number of images on a single page can seriously slow down your website.
One of the most common mistakes by business owners is to upload their unedited images directly to their websites. This is about the worst thing you can do for your page speed.
Unedited images can be MASSIVE in size, with a single image taking more space than 10 optimized ones. So, you need to find the perfect quality/size ratio. That is usually the lowest possible image size that retains the desired quality.
A number of different compression techniques can be used to resize the images to a lower size. This can make a major impact in improving the page speed of your website.
Next generation image format
Just resizing your image is definitely not enough. To get the right metrics on Google, it's important to convert your image into the latest generation formats recommended by Google.
The latest generation formats provide a much more efficient mechanism of image storage, allowing you to offer faster downloads and higher data savings. The best formats are the JPEG XR, JPEG 2000 and WebP instead of the conventionally used JPEG or PNG formats.
Making this change can be a major step towards boosting your page speed and getting the Greenlight from Google.
However, image optimization is just one aspect of improvement. As websites are primarily based around visual effects displayed using code, there are several other important steps when it comes to page speed optimization.
Removing unnecessary code is an important step towards a faster loading for your site. Thankfully, there's a wide range of tools available to help you with the improvement of unnecessary code segments.
Render-blocking resources above the fold
Well, the "fold" is the area on your site that's displayed at the bottom of the user's screen. Above the fold is everything that appears on their screen when they first load your page. Below the fold is everything they need to scroll to get to. The term comes from newspaper days, when content actually appeared above and below a literal, physical fold in the paper.
Ideally, you want your content above the fold to load fastest. It's important to structure your coding in a way that enables the web browser to load content in an organized structure, and give priority to above the fold content.
Server response time improvement
In a number of cases, the reason for the slow speed is the time taken by the server to load the content. This can be a result of a number of different factors.
Some of the most common ones include:
- Low-speed routing
- Resource CPU starvation
- Issues with database queries
These issues are primarily a result of the hosting platform you opt for. These are not consistent for everyone and all have their own remedies. However, to ensure that your page speed is not stemming from server issues, get your hosting from a quality provider that has an excellent response time.
Utilizing browser cache
Usually, the page loading process can take multiple requests between the browser and the server before we're able to see a completely loaded page.
When the page is loaded up from scratch, it can take a considerable amount of time in relative terms.
Caching is the process of allowing the browser to remember some elements that have been loaded in previous iterations. Some of the cached items include
This cached content is instrumental in cutting down the loading time of the web page due to the resource burden it takes off of the server every time. Google recommends prompt weekly browser caching to ensure efficient loading.
This can be a complete game-changer for your website’s Google Page Speed evaluation.
The importance of Google’s Page Speed Insights cannot be emphasized enough. Following the aforementioned standards and keeping up-to-date with all the latest policy changes can be a great way to stay on top of your Google Searching Engine Ranking and grow customer engagement.
Use talented professionals to help with your page speed
If this all seems a bit too much to keep on top of, you could consider speaking to a web developer, or an expert in website testing and monitoring. They can help you identify the roadblocks that are keeping your site from loading quickly. They'll know how to diagnose the problems, how to fix them and how to keep them from happening again.