Old Clock

Does Your Website Load Fast Enough?

In the last few years it has become more and more important for your website to load quickly and properly. Aside from providing a poor user experience, a slow loading website can now have an effect on you page rankings, as well. With all of the turmoil about Search Engine Optimization, this has become a big topic in the SEO world.

I can’t say for certain that your google listing will suffer dramatically if your page is a little slow to load, but if you are in a competitive field, it might be the difference that ranks you higher than your competition. Also, with the ever increasing demand by mobile browsers, speed becomes an even more important factor.

A bigger issue might be the mere impatience of the user. We have become an instant gratification society. We want it and we want it NOW! Just as we now have timers on our fast food orders, web users are expecting a page to load in a short amount of time.

Some statistics suggest that if a page takes longer than 2 seconds to load, a large part of your audience will abandon the site and move on. That might be a bit of a stretch, but you never can tell, these days. Either way, it is obvious that a site that loads slowly is less likely to be user-friendly or rank as well as one that loads quickly.

Here are some step you can take to get your site to load faster.

Use a Faster, More Reliable Web Host

One of the first things that you can do to help your site load faster is to be sure that it is hosted with a quality web host. There are so many web hosting companies out there, that it is almost impossible to know who does a good job with faster loading sites.

Most companies will do one of three things when deciding on web hosting. They will either choose the cheapest hosting they can find, choose a web host that they have heard of or choose a host based on the recommendation of a colleague.

The problem with all of these options, is that you really don’t know what you are getting. Web hosting seems like it is all the same, but it definitely is not. There are several factors that determine how fast your web page will load on a hosting server. The speed of the server hardware, the amount of other sites on the server, the amount of traffic on the server and how well the server is maintained and optimized all play a role in getting your site to load in a timely manner.

Take a little time and do some research. Read reviews. See who some of the big dogs are using to host their sites. Ask others. This research will help you make a more informed choice.

Remember, if your web host is slow, your site will be slow.

Use a CDN

Cloudflare defines a CDN this way: A content delivery network (CDN) refers to a geographically distributed group of servers which work together to provide fast delivery of Internet content. Basically what this means is that a CDN will provide your cached content from a location closer to the end user so that it will take some of the load off of you web host and load faster.

For a small site or business, a CDN might be a bit cost prohibitive and unnecessary, but if the fastest loading site is your goal, this is definitely something to think about.

Optimize Your Images

I see this problem a lot. Many times I will load a page and notice that one or more of the images takes a long time to load. upon investigation, I generally find that the image that was being displayed on the page at a small size is in reality quite large.

Even though the image is only displayed at a small size, the web browser has to download the entire large file. I know we live in an era of high bandwidth, but this is just laziness or lack of skill on the part of the person who built the page. Take time to size the images to the appropriate size and use a program like PhotoShop or Fireworks to compress them for web use. It will make a great difference in your page load times.

Reduce On-Page Scripts

Another thing you can do is to reduce the amount of scripts that your page loads. If you are using a contact form script or a photo gallery script on a page, then look at your other pages, as well. Are you loading this script in the code of every page on the site, even if the other pages don’t have a contact form or gallery? This can cause a problem with page load speed.

The more code, content, and images you have on a page, the longer it takes to load. It is just a fact of life.

Use On-Site Page Caching

Offering up a stored version of your page, or cached page, instead of having to load it all from the server and database each time, can drastically reduce the load time of a page. If you are using a Content Management System such as WordPress, there are some good plugins that will help you load pages quicker. This can also be done on non CMS pages, but may require a more manual approach.

These plugins will create a cache of the site and can also help by compressing some of the code on the page and doing other things like converting a page to a static HTML page, to cut down on site load times.

These plugins can also help by combining your different style sheets and javascript files. There are often multiple style sheets and javascript files that load to make your site display or function properly. By combining these files a plugin can help to reduce the number of times the browser has to query (talk to) the server and therefore shortens the load time.

Use AMP Pages

Amp pages are a fairly new method for loading pages in a quick manner. It is basically a smaller version of a page that you can load and is especially built for mobile browsers.  The Amp Project is an open-source initiative geared towards make the web move faster.

By utilizing a set of design principles and keeping pages lightweight when there is little need for all of the fluff that might look great on a desktop, but unneeded on a mobile device, the AMP pages can be much smaller. Thus, they load faster.

Where Do I Start?

A good place to start with shortening you page load time is to use a site that analyzes this information and gives you some suggestions on how to optimize your page speed.

An easy one is Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Just open the page, type in the link (URL) to the page you want to test and click on the “Analyze” button. You will be given a results page with an overall score and suggestions on how you can improve that score. Another great site for testing this is Pingdom. Pingdom will give you a much more granular view of your page, its size and how it loads.

I understand that some of these techniques can be hard to understand for most people. That is why we are here to help.

If you would like to look into the ways you can speed up the page load times of your web site, we would be happy to offer you a basic site speed evaluation. Simply use the contact form on this site to contact us or you can give us a call at the phone number at the top of the page.