The amount of time your website takes to load affects user experience. With the abundance of high speed internet connections available to most of your potential customers, you’re competing for their time. Not only does a poor user experience end up driving your users to a competitor website, it also affects where you website rank on Google search results.
Google looks at how fast your website loads as part of its algorithm when they're calculating where to rank the different websites out there on their search results page. Therefore, it’s to your benefit for your website to load quickly if you want to maximize your search engine position.
53% of people will back out of a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
3 Tips To Make Your Website Load Faster
Let's take a look at a couple of areas where you can look to help make your website load faster.
Code refers to the files and programming that makes your website tick. For this exercise, I want to focus on what we call “number of requests”. This refers to the amount of times a user’s browser will communicate with the server your website lives on until it has everything it needs to display it. Let's say you have a website with 30-40 files that are needed to generate it. That means a user’s browser will be sending that many requests to the web server. If you can consolidate that down into 4-5 files, you're now making less requests to the server and your website will load faster. There are ways for your developer to consolidate the programming files that are powering your site to make it all work better.
Another area to look into is your website hosting provider. Typically, low-cost hosting providers have slower connections and overburdened servers, which means websites that are on those servers are not going to load as quickly as they could. They are able to offer these low-cost solutions by running thousands of websites on a single server. If one or more websites have an issue and start to consume more than their fare share of computer power, that’s going to slow down your site even more. The best part is when you call to complain, chances are that rogue website that had an issue is working properly and your website will load “within their specifications”. Take a look at the hosting provider, compare a few different options and packages that they offer and find an option that's going to make your website load quickly.
Your Content Management System and Plug-Ins
The last item to look at is the plug-ins. People are very inclined to just throw a plug-in on a website when they are looking to achieve a certain function, without figuring out how that plug-in works. Different plug-ins have different ways of achieving the same thing, and consume different resources as part of their function. If you've got plug-ins that are not running efficiently, that's going to penalize you when it comes to the speed your website is loading at. Make sure you’re running the latest version of your website CMS (think WordPress, Drupal, Magento, etc…) and the latest versions of your plug-ins.
Take a look at these 3 areas, look at your load speed, use Google's Page Speed Tool to get some data and I'm certain you will be able to speed up your website and improve your search engine position. Remember, these are only 3 items to look at, there are many other things that can affect your website’s speed.
I’ll touch base on some other areas in an upcoming post.