In this day and age, people are fond of fast websites and so is Google. These paragons offer a more enjoyable user experience and occupy the coveted forefront of SERPs. There, they are in a position to reap opulent benefits, such as greater traffic, higher conversion rates, and more sales. On the other hand, sluggish websites are lagging behind in ranking, losing a huge volume of business as a result. So, if you really meant to hit it big, you have to do away with all the clutter, distractions, and inefficiency.

In other words, it is high time to identify the issues that slow down your website.

Need for speed

Modern users are dismayed by slow websites. According to DoubleClick by Google, 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages do not load within three seconds. And the longer they load, the more probability there is that a visitor will bounce. Page speed also has a profound impact on SEO. Seismic shifts like Mobile-first indexing put new demands before webmasters and SEO experts. Like it or not, speed is now a factor that Google takes into account when ranking websites.

Across the digital universe, proofs of speed moving up on the list of priorities exist. The chief issue, though, is figuring out where to start the hunt for culprits behind the shoddy performance of your website. Well, no need to fret. The front-end structure is responsible for roughly 80% of the time it takes for pages to load. Yes, we are talking about things like multimedia files that make your website more visually appealing but also undermine its functionality and user-friendliness.

The essential checklist

Here are some crucial page aspects to address.

  • The sheer size of a page is a vital piece of the puzzle. A page that is a couple of MBs in size and sends a ton of HTTP requests cannot load particularly fast. So, to make a positive change, optimize images, shrink Javascript files, and employ other front-end optimization tweaks. Furthermore, minimize the amount of data that each page loads and present only what contributes to smooth navigation and utility. For instance, you hardly need loads of big images, portfolio items, and testimonials on your homepage.
  • Images are always one of the first elements to focus on. When poorly optimized, they add MBs of extra clutter to your pages. This is a shame, as it is possible to trim them rather fuss-free. Namely, you can utilize tools such as Photoshop and Kraken to decrease their size by up to 80%. In addition, make sure to get the dimensions of your images right (resize them if needed). The beauty of it is that you do not have to sacrifice image quality in the process.
  • Ads are a powerful website monetization tactic. However, they can impede user experience in two major ways: by simply annoying people and slowing things down. This happens when you run several ads via multiple ad platforms and in more than one section of the page (header, right sidebar, the bottom of the page, and body of the post). So, you are better off using ads in moderation instead of letting them hurt user satisfaction and fast load times.
  • Server location plays an important role. For instance, if the lion’s share of your traffic is coming from the U.S, it makes little sense to have a server in Europe, does it? After all, the closer location of the server is to your visitors, the better it is for your load times. What you can do is change your hosting company to reflect traffic structure better. Those who are driving traffic from all over the world may also want to take advantage of the Content Delivery Network or CloudFlare for Javascript files, images, and CSS.
  • Social media scripts at the end of the page allow users to easily share your posts around the social ecosystem. The only problem is that they also bring about additional elements that may obstruct your page speed. We are mostly talking about DNS lookup, Javascript files, and images that might not be a must for every single page. If you ask me, they do not really add anything of value to category or contact pages. Moreover, you can dig into user data to see if you require scripts for all social networks you are present on.
  • Finally, we have those pesky 404 errors that occur during the rendering of pages. They are more than a slight inconvenience. To be more precise, loading a file that does not exist or is untraceable by the server hampers load times and your ranking. To avoid this pitfall, inspect the generated waterfall of the site or put network tabs of browsers to good use. Upon uncovering 404 errors, you should troubleshoot and fix them promptly.

Getting out of the slow lane

Optimization for better load times is no task for amateurs.

It is never a good idea to make lackluster and temporary changes, blindly imitate what other websites are doing, or act without actionable data at hand. More often than not, if you want a job done well, you need to hire some qualified web development experts. Check this list of companies that are on top of the latest web design trends and best practices, so the investment is likely to pay dividends in the long-term. To demonstrate this, just take into account the following business case.

Nowadays, online retail sites endure drops in conversion rates for every second of delay in load times. Not surprisingly, retailers with the highest speed are also the industry leaders— Amazon (1.8s) and eBay (2.0s). If you think the difference of 0.02 seconds between them is meager, think again. It is estimated that eBay could boost annual revenue by millions of dollars by bringing the speed on par with Amazon.

This is quite a bit of value is packed in a mere fraction of the second. The main takeaway is clear: in the fast-paced online world of today, even the slightest variations in speed can make or break success.

On top of the game

Optimizing the load times of your pages is a clear win-win. It is a surefire way to keep Google and your visitors happy, effectively increasing visitor satisfaction, ranking, conversion rates, and page views. So, carry out tests to figure out how your pages hold up (against the competition and SEO standards). Take your time to carry out fine-tuning with surgical precision. Eliminate unnecessary files on your pages— strip it down to essentials.

This is your chance to improve your bottom line and get ahead of the pack.

NinaRAuthor Bio: Nina is a technical researcher & writer at DesignRush, a B2B marketplace connecting brands with agencies. She loves to share her experiences and meaningful content that educates and inspires people. Her main interests are web design and marketing. In her free time, when she’s away from the computer, she likes to do yoga and ride a bike. You can find her on twitter
Image Source: Freepik

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