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If you have a slow website, this is something you need to fix, as it can hurt your SEO ranking and frustrate your customers. 

There are a number of different reasons why your website may be slow. This could be because your image files are too big! It could be because of too much flash content, excessive HTTP requests, or JavaScript issues.

If you do not use a Content Delivery Network (CDN), this could be why your website is slow. A CDN features a number of different servers that are situated in strategic geographic locations. You can store a number of copies of your site on them so that pages are loaded quickly by users situated far away from your main server. 

Other problems that can slow down your website include plug-ins that are weighing your site down. Too many plug-ins can cause poor performance, so remove any that you do not use. If your site’s code is too bulky or you have poorly-written scripts that are causing issues with other site elements, both could slow your site down. 

You need to make sure you put in work to improve the performance and speed of your website. 

Why does speed matter?

Google has revealed that site speed, and consequently, page speed is one of a number of different signals that are used to rank pages by its algorithm, as well as web design, relevancy, and more. There are numerous reasons why page load speed matters for your online visibility and, therefore, why you need to fix a slow website. This includes the following:

  • Longer load times have a negative impact on the user experience your website provides, often resulting in a negative effect on conversions. Numerous studies have shown that pages that take a long time to load tend to have a lower average time on page and higher bounce rates.
  • Poor site speed could have a negative impact on your indexation. This is because search engines won’t be able to crawl as many pages with their allocated crawl budget if your website is slow.

How can you increase your page load speed?

Now that you have a good understanding with regards to page load speed and why it matters, let’s take a look at some of the different approaches you can use to improve this element of your website.

Optimize images

There is only one place to begin, and this is with optimising your images. Make sure that they are not any bigger than they need to be. They also need to be compressed for the web, as well as being in the correct file format. JPEGs are generally better for photographs while PNGs are typically better for graphics that have less than 16 colours. If you use an image frequently, for example, your icons or buttons, you should create a template using CSS sprites. This will convert your solo images into one big image and then you can display only the sections you wish to. This will reduce your load time by not making people wait for numerous images to load and reducing your HTTP requests.

Leverage browser caching

There is a lot of information that is cached by a browser. This information ranges from JavaScript files and images to style sheets. This is done to ensure your browser does not have to reload the entire page whenever a visitor returns to your website. If you don’t know if you have already set an expiry date for your cache, you can use a tool like YSlow to find out. You can then set your “expires” header for the length of time you wish the information to be cached. A year is a good period of time to go for unless the design of your website changes on a regular basis.

Choose a web hosting provider with care

Another important part of the process is choosing a hosting provider with care. Quite simply, faster hosting will boost page load speed. There are actually a number of different elements in hosting packages that have an impact on speed. In fact, these are the same elements that would make your computer work at a faster pace. This includes the following…

  • More resources: More processing power and memory imply that your server can perform request executions quicker. You will benefit from considerably more resources with a dedicated server.
  • Local resources: Rather than having your resources on a server with shared hosting, you can enhance performance by storing your resources on the web server directly.
  • Dedicated resources: Choosing a dedicated VPS or server can have a large impact on how quickly your website loads. This will ensure that other websites are not eating up your website’s resources like processor and memory.
  • Fast hard drive: You can expect a quicker performance with a solid-state drive instead of a standard hard disc.

Your Boston web design company will be able to assist with this. If you want to choose a host yourself, the best thing to do is your research on each of the popular web hosting companies and packages. Many people have had bad experiences with a particular host in terms of it slowing down their website, you can be sure there will be plenty of comments online warning you about this so you can stay away and look elsewhere.  

Reduce redirects

Your visitors are going to face extra time waiting for the HTTP request-response cycle to be finalised whenever a page redirects to another page. Let’s look at an example redirect pattern for a better understanding. Let’s say your mobile redirect pattern follows this process…

Hello.com -> www.hello.com -> m.hello.com -> m.hello.com/home

Your page is going to become slower due to the two additional redirects, which is why you should reduce them to the lowest possible number.

Enable compression

The final step you can take to reduce the page load speed of your website is to enable compression. To do this, you will need a software application for file compression, such as Gzip. You should then reduce the size of your JavaScript, HTML, and CSS files so that they are not bigger than 150 bytes. However, for image files, make sure you do not utilise Gzip. Instead, use a program like Photoshop to compress these because you will have control over image quality.