Speeding Up Your Site

Is your website loading at the speeds you’re hoping for? If not, take a look at how you can increase your site’s speed and improve SEO.

How many times have you visited a website, only to leave seconds later out of frustration due to slow loading times? It happens a lot, and it negatively affects SEO and reduces the number of conversions on a site.
Slow website = less traffic
Studies have shown that 47% of visitors expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% of visitors will actually leave the site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. It doesn’t matter how great your content is if your site loads slowly; visitors will leave and try to find their answers elsewhere.
Google wanted to see how much of a factor speed played on websites. After users agreed that they’d rather have 30 results shown on a page instead of the usual 10, Google tried it out. By increasing the amount of content on the page, the loading time increased by only 0.5 seconds, but led to an astounding 20% decrease in traffic. By supposedly “improving” the site, the decrease in speed negatively affected the overall amount of traffic. The lesson learned? Don’t stuff your site with too much content and expect to maintain high loading speeds.
Increasing traffic is the biggest reason for wanting a fast website, but site speed also affects search engine optimization (SEO). Since Google and other search engines want to deliver the best content to their users, they will display sites that are optimized for speed and performance.
A search engine analyzes how long on average visitors browse a particular site. If it notes that visitors are consistently leaving a site after only a few seconds of landing on the page, the search engine will push that site down the rankings. Since speed plays a major factor in how long a visitor remains on a site, it’s absolutely vital for achieving high SEO rankings.
How do I speed up my site?
What’s making one site slower than another? There are several factors that play into website loading times; we’ll take a look at some of the most common ones. Here are some changes you can make to improve the speed of your site:

  • Optimize all images. Make sure your images are sized properly to the area they’re occupying on your site. For example, if your image dimensions are 1100 x 400 pixels and it’s going to be viewed in a 300 x 80 pixel area, the browser is still going to load the complete image and then resize it, slowing up loading time as it does so. Use photo editing software such as Photoshop to resize images, and then use the “Save for Web” feature. This option reduces the image size, making your site load faster.
  • Don’t include too much media from outside sources. Having a YouTube video on your site can be a great way to draw in visitors (and keep them on your site), but if you have several videos coming from multiple sites, your site will see a huge increase in load times. You can either cut down on videos from YouTube, or upload a video directly to your server in order to speed up loading times.
  • Upgrade your web hosting. If you’re on a shared hosting plan your speed can be dependent on the other sites sharing the server. If another site on the server is receiving large amounts of traffic it could bog down your site. A good web host will make sure your site isn’t negatively affected by others’ traffic. If you want to be sure that the server won’t affect your site’s speed, consider upgrading to a Cloud VPS or dedicated hosting option.
  • Use caching to your advantage. By caching (or storing) a site, you eliminate the browser having to load the site from the server every time you want to pay a visit. If you’re running a WordPress site, look into the WP Super Cache plugin. This will produce static HTML files and significantly reduce load times.
  • Cut down on ads/unnecessary affiliate code. It’s tempting to fill your page with ads or code from an affiliate, but note that each time you do this you’re adding another call to another server. This increases load times, sometimes quite significantly. We’re not saying you should eliminate all outside ads on your site, but if you’re looking to increase your site’s speed you should be cutting back. Besides, no one wants to browse a site that looks like a flashing WalMart catalog.
  • Look into a CDN. If your site receives large amounts of traffic, or if you have global traffic coming to your site, it’s worth harvesting the power of a Content Delivery Network (CDN). This powerful technology uses servers spread out around the world so that your visitor will access your site from the server nearest to them. Sending requests around the world takes time, but a CDN reduces this significantly. WestHost recently teamed up with CloudFlare to bring its clients a free CDN option. Check it out here!

Test out your site’s speed by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights. From there you can determine whether or not your site needs a speed boost.

WestHost’s Website Builder is a great option for building a fast and professional site with no coding skills required! Check it out today!