5 Tips to Help You Improve Your Page Speed

Who likes waiting 10 seconds or more for a website to load? Nowadays, no one has the patience to wait so long. However, if your website is fast like lightning, visitors will love your site.

Why Does Page Speed Matter?

Most retail site pages load in average over seven seconds, much longer than the ideal three seconds or less. According to KissMetrics, even this four- or five-second longer load time actually cost these retailers lots of money, in fact, billions of dollars. Their findings also state that even a one-second delay cost them seven percent loss in sales.

Not only does page speed affect user experience and lead to loss of revenue, it also leads to lower search engine rankings. In fact, Google, using their own Chrome browser’s built-in tools to track page speed, is now using this, among other metrics, to rank pages, meaning web sites with shorter load speed can be seen as higher ranked as those who take a longer time to load. Those who load first are even given a ranking bonus.

However, this speed score can vary depending on the location of the visitor, for example, a site might be ranked higher in the US because it loads more quickly for US visitors. Visitors in the UK might have different load times and ranking. The key takeaway to this is that page speed is a big factor to a website’s success, and boosting it can bring a site a lot of advantages.

5 Steps to Help Boost Page Speed

1. Optimize Database

To store information, most websites make use of databases, which can greatly affect page speed. One good step to optimize the database is to add an index, helping the database find information more quickly. This way, during a search the database does not need to search millions of records. Instead, the database narrows down the data to be scanned into a few hundred. Thus, the data comes back much faster. Doing so can reduce, for example, an average loading time from 2 to 10 seconds to even less than a second!

2. Ditch Tracking Codes, Share Buttons and Video Embeds

Although tracking codes are undeniable important to be able to analyze user behavior, it makes more sense to just chose what is only necessary. Adding yet another tracking code to a web page will definitely make it load slower. Another tip is to put tracking codes at the bottom of the page, allowing the user to view the page although the code isn’t finished loading yet.

Video embeds should also be kept to a minimum. Although using video is great in building customer engagement and helps create a better user experience, the fact is, most video embeds use iFrames when displaying video. This creates a drag on page loading times, because they technically load a whole different page within the main page.

Share buttons are useful for marketers to increase referral traffic and find new customers, but they are mostly javascript-based, which also generates an iFrame on a page. By limiting the number of share buttons, marketers can prioritize buttons that bring the most benefits without compromising on the page speed.

A brand manager is faced with the need to balance between the benefits of the initiatives mentioned and the risk of having slower page speed. In order to find the perfect solution for a web page, testing with various changes and analyzing how this affects rankings and trackings against KPIs. For example, some sites prioritize higher traffic brought about by share buttons, even if rankings decline.

3. When Available, Use Caching

When a visitor opens a web page for the first time, the browser needs all images, scripts, text to be requested from the server of the website. These are then stored in the browser’s cache so that when visitors open other pages of the site, the browser is only downloading what is unique to this new page.

With HTML 5, browser caching capabilities have been expanded. One example is Local Storage, where users are allowed to store megabits of data into the browser instead of storing in the server’s database. Application Cache, another alternative, allows users to write web applications that run offline. These two contribute to the page speed by allowing the use of resources from the local computer instead of waiting for the server to provide them. Another benefit is cost savings, because the more the visitor uses what is locally stored, thus there is less need for bandwidth and server usage. The last benefit is Offline browsing, so visitors can still access pages even if there is no Wi-Fi or when the site is down for maintenance.

WordPress users are also able to utilize available great caching plug-ins that affect page speed, like Quick Cache.

4. Content Delivery Networks

Where a website’s server is physically located can affect page speed. The closer the visitor is to the server, the faster the data arrives. In fact, data that has to travel, for example, across countries have to stop at multiple routers. Content Delivery Networks (CDN) work to address this, allowing a copy of a page to be kept in a server closer to the visitor abroad. A CDN has servers all around the world, giving visitors access to content from a server close by.

Most CDNs are not free, like Amazon, who has a CloudFrount service or Rackspace, who also partnered with Akamai to offer CDN to their customers. However, there are also free CDN services like Google’s PageSpeed Service, which is free at the beginning, but needs to be paid down the road.

5. The Most Important Tool for Better Page Speed

Google Webmaster gives website owners access to PageSpeed Insights, which analyzes a page’s load speed and gives tips to improve. This analysis is also being done by Google to make page rankings, and can be used by website owners to compare their site with competitors’.

Follow these 5 tips for visitors, improving your page speed will not decrease traffic, sales or engagement. In fact, the faster the site, the more love it receives!

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