The importance of a fast loading website

30th June 2021 | | Search Engine Optimisation

Website loading speed is a priority for the overall user experience and it’s now becoming one of the most important ranking factors. Last November Google announced they were introducing Core Web vitals as part of their algorithm and becoming ranking signal in May/June 2021.  They are designed to measure how users experience the speed, responsiveness, and visual stability of a page.

Not only is website site speed a important ranking factor, it also has a vital effect on conversion rates which is highlighted by the following infographic:

 

site-speed

 

How to make your website load faster

Here are 5 quick tips which should help you reduce loading times and increase your website speed. Great for rankings and user experience.

Use a Great Caching Plugin

If you’ve got static images, CSS and Javascript on your website that rarely change, browser side caching can help make your site snappier.

Caching involves storing parts of your site so they only need to be loaded once instead of every time a user visits your site. Caching is especially helpful for your return visitors, as well as others who visit several pages on your site.

W3 Total Cache is a popular caching plugin for WordPress used by sites like Mashable(their CTO created W3TC), Smashing Magazine, Web Designer Depot and WPBeginner. The plugin promises a 10 times improvement in overall site performance when fully (and properly) configured.

WP Super Cache is a more user-friendly alternative and you don’t need to be a server expert to set it up.

Compress Images

Images are usually the largest files on a site so if they aren’t compressed they can take ages to load.

Luckily there are some great tools out there to help you compress your files.

WP Smush.it, now managed and supported by WPMU DEV, automatically strips meta data from JPEGs and removes unused colours from indexed images.

Tiny PNG is another great tool, which allows also strips un-used colours for lossy compressions.

If you use a lot of images on your site, you might want to implement lazy loading. The Lazy Load plugin allows you to only load images above the fold when a new visitor arrives at your site. Images load once a user starts scrolling down the page. This technique not only speeds up page load times but also saves bandwidth for users who don’t scroll all the way to the bottom of your pages.

Minify HTML, CSS and Javascript

In other words, remove all white space from code where possible.

While spaces and tabs make code more readable for humans, servers and browsers couldn’t care less as long as it’s valid and executes without error.

Rather than manually sift through your code with a fine tooth comb, plugin’s like WP Minify and W3 Total Cache can handle this at runtime.

Cut Down on HTTP Requests

Every time someone visits a page on your site, the corresponding files must be sent to that person’s browser, including images, CSS files andJavascript library references. So if you have a HTML file, two CSS files, five Javascript files and eight images, that’s a total of 16 files that need to be loaded.

By reducing the number of objects in your site’s pages, you can minimise the number of HTTP requests that are required to render a page, speeding up load times.

One way to do this is by simplifying the design of your site and combining files such as scripts and CSS. The minify section in W3 Total Cache allows you to add your CSS and Javascript files so you can easily combine them into one file.

Optimise Database Tables

Optimising your database tables is like defragging your computer or changing the oil in your car – it will help free up space and keep your database running smoothly.

You can optimise your database tables manually using phpMyAdmin or with a plugin.

WP-DBManager allows you to optimise, repair, backup and restore your database.

There’s also WP-Optimize, another database cleanup and optimisation tool. This plugin also lets you remove post revisions, comments in the spam queue, un-approved comments and items in trash.

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