People don’t like to wait in a fast-paced world like ours. This is especially true online, where attention spans have dwindled by the second each year.
According to a study by Google, 53% of users will abandon a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load. But in some cases, even 3 seconds can be too slow.
Google discovered that bounce rates increased by 32% when load time rose from 1 to 3 seconds. This led to the company announcing that they would reduce the amount of crawlers for servers taking more than 2 seconds to load.
While getting dinged by Google is bad enough, slow page speeds may also cost your bottom line. An Akamai survey found that slow website speeds were the top reason for abandoning a purchase among 51% of American online shoppers.
Furthermore, 64% of shoppers who were dissatisfied with their site experience said they would shop somewhere else.
If you want the kind of site that keeps visitors on the page and interested in your services, you need to deliver the speeds they expect. Now that we know the problem, what’s the solution?
For the many small business owners who don’t have a trusty developer at their side, there are some easy steps to take to add speed to your site, even for the most technophobic.
Here are a few ways to get your website running quicker and your visitors staying on the page.
Conduct a Speed Check
It’s difficult to fix something if you don’t understand the extent of the problem. Before getting started, you’ll need to know the current speed of your site, along with the elements dragging it down.
DigitalTrust gives you direct feedback on your site’s performance so you can understand the elements that drag down your site’s speed. It also provides easy steps to fix performance issues so you can speed up your site without being overwhelmed by technical jargon.
DigitalTrust scores websites using Google PageSpeed Insights is one of the most popular tools for analyzing page speed. If you want more details, PageSpeed Insights will show you everything you need to know.
Once you enter your site’s URL into PageSpeed Insights, click “analyze.” You will then receive an overall score ranging from 0-100, with 85 or above being the optimal goal.
The report also shows you the particular elements slowing down your site and provides recommendations for fixing these issues. The platform uses a color-coded system of:
- Green – No errors found
- Yellow – Issues aren’t critical but can be improved
- Red – Major errors
While some of the recommendations may be out of your depth, there are plenty of simple fixes offered by PageSpeed Insights. The following sections detail just a few that you may come across.
Optimize Images and Video
Images and videos are some of the heaviest elements on a page, leading to slow load speeds if not properly optimized using the correct formats, sizes, and styles that suit modern browsers. Each video and image adds to the weight of a webpage. The heavier the page, the slower it loads.
To keep your page light, you’ll need to determine how much media you actually need on the page. All media should serve a purpose, whether it’s to inform, attract attention, or otherwise. Consider removing any superfluous images or videos that don’t serve a larger purpose.
In terms of image size, you’ll want to resize photos to the appropriate size of the webpage. For example, if you plan to display an image at 300 pixels, don’t upload the original 5,000 pixel image.
You can easily resize images with tools such as Imagify and ShortPixel, which integrate seamlessly with WordPress sites. Check out Shopify’s 10 Must Know Image Optimization Tips to learn more about optimization
You’ll also want to be aware of different file formats and the amount of space they utilize. For example, JPEG files take up less space than PNG files, especially for photos. Also, GIF images should be avoided and replaced with PNG images, with the exception of animated GIFs.
Caching, Lazy Loading, and Minifying With WordPress Plugins
A website can also get heavy if the underlying script is not optimized properly. However, this area can get a bit technical and confusing for those without experience.
Fortunately, WordPress offers a number of plugins that can take care of some of the heavy lifting. WP Rocket is one of the most popular and useful plugins for boosting page speeds.
Among the wide array of functions, WP Rocket allows website owners to:
- Lazy Load Image and Video – Images and video are loaded after primary page content.
To get started with WP Rocket, follow this helpful guide to optimize the plugin for maximum performance.
Check Web and DNS Hosting
The quality of your web hosting service can significantly impact the speed of your website, for better or worse. You should take time to compare speeds among a group of web hosting services to see if it’s worth switching.
In addition to speed, you’ll also want to consider the server’s location, as a server located closer to your users will result in faster speeds.
In terms of hosting, you have three options:
- Shared Hosting – Shared CPU, disk space, and other resources with other sites hosted on the same server.
- Dedicated Server – Server completely controlled by the site owner, who is also responsible for all maintenance required, including configuration.
- VPS Hosting – Dedicated portion of a shared server, offering more flexibility and little energy to maintain.
Here is a regularly updated list of web hosting service reviews.
In addition to web hosting, your domain name system (DNS) can also impact page speed.
A DNS lookup translates a URL into an IP address, denoting its online location. Once the associated IP address is found, the user is able to access your site, making this step crucial in terms of speed.
A slower DNS connection will increase the time it takes the server to carry out a response, meaning precious wasted seconds.
Consider your Third-Party Content
Third party scripts refer to any scripts embedded on your site from a third party, which includes social sharing buttons, chat widgets, and ads. Nearly 94% of websites use third party scripts because they can be a useful way to make your site more dynamic and interactive.
However, hosting too many third party scripts can cause some serious lag time as they involve more HTTP requests and contribute to increased page weight. Some issues that cause slower load speeds include:
- Too many network requests to multiple servers
- Sending large, unoptimized images or videos
- Single-Point of Failures (SPOF) caused by incorrect script loading
- Lack of sufficient server compression
These tools will highlight third-party applications used by the site, the amount of requests used for each application, and the time they take to load.
You can perform an A/B test using Chrome DevTools network request blocking function. This allows you to see how your site would perform if you blocked the particular application and evaluate the performance of your third-party tools.
DigitalTrust’s platform also works extensively with various platforms and technologies to prioritize your content in order to keep your pages consistently loading fast.
Speed Up Your Trust
When it comes to attracting attention online, you often don’t get second chances. Providing a speedy, smooth experience for your users further ensures that they stick around to see what you have to offer. This can lead to more visits, more sales, and most importantly, more trust in your business.
Users equate quality with the speeds they’re used to with sites like Google and Amazon. Reducing lag time puts users in a comfortable frame of mind, making it more likely for them to explore the site and eventually, utilize your services.
There’s no better time than now to start speeding up your site, attracting trust and sales. If you want to dive deeper into building digital trust among your customers, consider getting a Trust Score from DigitalTrust.
The Trust Score analyzes your site for over 50 trust factors, including usability, safety, transparency, and reputation. You can also qualify for a free trustmark, which shows off your site’s trustworthiness to visitors
However you choose to move forward, make it fast and make it last. With this effort comes trust, something hard to earn but worth every second.