Knowing how to make your website faster is an extremely valuable skill for your customers experience, your SEO, and your online business revenue.
It’s not just because slow websites are painfully frustrating. The main reason you can’t, and shouldn’t, live with slow loading pages is because it’s going to hurt your bottom line.
Slow websites cost business owners money! And lots of it.
Factually speaking here, the more seconds it takes your page to load means the more people who are clicking away from your site. The effect is you’ll have less people go on to browse your site, subscribe to your email list, and buy from you.
Literally one or two extra seconds of load time can be the difference between getting them to buy from you or your competition. That’s a big deal!
When you combine the fact people are the opposite side of patient these days and you’re not the only company who offers what you do, any business with a slow website shouldn’t wait another day without fixing it.
The stats below prove this statement too true.
Why Website Load Time Matters
Disagreeing with what you think is my personal opinion is one thing. But ignoring the facts surrounding the importance of load time is a costly mistake. Take a look.
Did you know that 47% of customers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less (Wired)?
Displeasing a consumer right before they consider buying from your business is the exact opposite approach you want to maximize sales. This stat shows that slow websites hurt visitor’s expectations and make a bad first impression right off the bat.
Instead, the goal is to make it as seamless of a buying experience as possible to encourage consumers to buy lots of your products and services. A fast website makes it convenient for your online shoppers to pull the trigger.
A fast website can totally make the difference on whether your business or the competitor gets the sale.
For local businesses, this can make or break their survival.
Kissmetrics found that 18% of mobile users will click off your site if it doesn’t load in under 5 seconds, and 30% click away if a page takes 10 seconds to load.
I’m honestly surprised these percentages aren’t higher given the first statistic. I find it hard to believe that 70% of people have more than 10 seconds of patience to stay on a slow-loading website.
The problem compounds when you realize that not just the first page is slow, but every page on a slow site will most likely take longer than 5 seconds to load. They click on 6 pages and they’ve wasted more than a minute of their time.
How are you going to get an online sale if they’re more focused on their frustrating experience than what you’re selling? This is a poor strategy.
A smarter business owner will speed up their mobile site, and desktop site, to deliver an exceptional online experience.
A page that loads just one second slower causes an 11% drop in page views and 7% drop in conversions according to Aberdeen.
Your customers are busy as hell. They want to view your page fast so they can learn what they’re after and make a decision.
But a slow site will quickly lose the people who visit it as seconds pass by and the page is still loading. The 11% is one thing, imagine the millions of dollars lost across the industry resulting from 7% less conversions.
And I’m not sure it’s technically correct to assume this from the study, but I’d imagine every second longer is another 11% of people who click away or even worse.
Google admitted page speed is part of their ranking system.
Google is usually extremely reserved about disclosing what goes into their website ranking algorithm. But they did admit that page speed influences how they rank sites in search results.
The fact that they made it a point to communicate this means any website that’s serious about ranking for first page search results needs a fast website.
I mean, why invest in local SEO strategies like setting up a Google My Business and other listings, asking customers for online reviews, or even paying a digital marketing company if your results are only going to be undercut by a snail-paced site.
Slow websites get heavy bounce rates which damage a website’s SEO ranking, cause fewer people to visit the website, and therefor online sales decline.
Whereas a fast site will help humans and bots visit more pages of your website and improve the other important SEO factors like time on site and page views per visitor.
By now I hope you realize that a slow website is like dead weight to the growth of your company. It’s up to you whether you make your website faster or go on doing business at your own risk.
For those of you wanting to cut off seconds from your site’s load time, you’re in luck.
How To Speed Up Your Website
Why waste time, energy, and money sending people to your business website if it’s slow, they click away, and you lose sales? It’s time you speed up your website to capitalize on every single visitor.
Take the action steps below and you won’t have to deal with a slow website ever again.
1. Make your website simpler to reduce HTTP requests
A busier website with more stuff going puts a heavier burden on the page to load quickly. Or just think about it in layman terms: A 300-pound-person weighed down by soaking wet clothes is not going to be as fast as as a lean 175-pound-sprinter with a six pack and their shirt off.
The same concept applies to your website.
How do you make your website simpler? There are many different solutions and you should take all of them:
- Delete all elements on your website that don’t serve a specific purpose
- Reduce the amount of 301, 303, and mobile redirects since these add HTTP requests and hurt website load time
- Use less scripts when possible, “minify” your scripts, and combine them into as few files as possible (see #5)
- Combine multiple CSS stylesheets into one style sheet
The biggest factor is the first bullet point. You don’t need your entire product line showing on your homepage, for example. Use a button for that.
By using a minimalist inspired design where every element of the site has a functional or aesthetic purpose, you’ll reduce the number of tasks your website goes through to load a new page and speed up your website.
2. Use compression to reduce file size
What do you do with your pages full of long content and images?
You don’t want to give less value to your audience, so the content length can’t change. But how it’s organized can, and should, to speed up your website loading time.
Here’s what to do: Zip the files through compression. This term compression means your website reduces the size of files into a smaller file. Doing this takes away a burden from your host and site, enabling quicker load times.
It can be somewhat technical to implement this on your website. If you have WordPress, there are plugins that make it simpler (scroll down to the end where we talk about Cloudflare—and there are other options too like W3 Total Cache and WP Fastest Cache).
If you want to learn and get your hands dirty, or see under the hood as to what a company would be doing for you, here’s a great post about HTTP GZIP compression. Essentially, this makes the process of delivering the website code to your web browser (like Google Chrome or Safari) as efficient and speedy as possible.
3. Improve server response time
This is the only task outside of your website, but how well your website host is performing is critically important to the task at hand.
Since I doubt you have your own server in the basement of your business, odds are your website is on a server with countless other websites all competing to receive server response time—thus slowing each other down.
A bad hosting performance can significantly slow down the page load time and get your visitors off to a bad start before they see anything on your website.
A quick way you can see how fast or slow your server response time is by typing in your URL here. If your host has anything lower than a C+ grade in the results, then it’s only smart to switch hosts so your users get a better experience and your business brings in more cash.
If you’re looking for a solid web host, we use A2 Hosting. After assessing dozens of web hosting companies, we determined they are among the top server response time and offer great value for the price point.
4. Smush image sizes
The smaller images the better. That makes sense right? Smushing file sizes of image reduces the page load time.
The way you accomplish this is by using a plugin like Compress JPEG and PNG Images.This will automatically smush your images after you upload, while keeping resolution. And you can use it to optimize your previous images already in your WordPress Media folder.
You can also be smart by uploading the correct image size to fit your website first, instead of uploading a massive 5500px by 3500px image and making your website reduce it to fit your page settings. I recommend you go through a site like Canva to crop your image, then upload it.
Also the file type of the image plays a factor for website load time. JPEG is the best for site speed, followed by PNG. The other image types are only going to load slowly and bring down the rest of your page speed with them. That’s not cool.
Initially, code takes up a lot of space, because it’s written by humans who need to be able to read it. The code is spread out over hundreds or thousands of lines so it’s easy to write and modify.
Your web browser doesn’t care though, and it delivers performance improvements (by reducing file size) if all the code is on one line.
WordPress plugins, like W3 Total Cache mentioned earlier, can take care of this for you automatically as well—even as you install new plugins, write new blog posts, and add other new content to your site.
If you have a complicated website, you almost certainly should engage a professional developer or company to handle this for you, so they can ensure it speeds up your site rather than breaking it. But it’s worth it for the performance improvements you’ll get. We shaved a few seconds off the load time for several websites recently, just from this step alone!
6. Enable caching
There are images and files used across multiple pages on your website—for example, your logo probably appears on every page. There’s no reason your browser needs to download a new version of the logo every time it needs to load.
Essentially when your website has enabled browser caching, there’s less to load because the files have already been preloaded on your customer’s computer for the next time they visit. That makes for a much quicker load time and user experience.
Caching can improve site speed by a few seconds, which makes a difference, for your regular visitors. And trust me, they’ll appreciate it.
7. Delete unused and inefficient plugins
Plugins are a lifesaver when they’re useful and they work. However, after getting access to many clients’ websites, I routinely see unused plugins that take from the site and contribute nothing.
Since they only make your website slower and increase the likelihood something breaks, you must delete unnecessary plugins. Toss them to the curb and kiss them goodbye.
Not only should you delete plugins that aren’t in use, you should also look to replace poor-performing plugins with better ones.
In this plugin article, we recommend replacing popular plugins like Jetpack and Sumo. And delete that default Hello Dolly plugin for the sake of my sanity.
Website Speed Wrap Up
Making your page load times faster may look too technical. It may look like a major time suck. But realistically this is a one time investment that’s going to pay dividends for years to come.
If you don’t have the technical ability to make these changes on your own, then hire someone (like us) who does so you can complete this project. And if you do know your way around this technical work, block off a few hours on a Saturday to grind away until the job is done.
For a reminder and motivational purposes, these are the benefits waiting for you after you speed up your business website:
- Customers will have a better experience scrolling through your website and think more highly of your brand
- Google will rank your pages higher which will increase overall traffic to your website
- It’ll be more efficient to edit a faster website
- Most importantly: Your business revenue will grow!
Shaving seconds off your site load time could be the best business move your company makes all year.