6 actionable tips to increase page speed

Posted by John Stevens on 11 Apr, 2016
View comments SEO
You’re likely familiar with the effect page speed has on your site. For every one second delay in load time, your conversion rates drop by 7 percent. Plus, Google has said that page speed impacts search engine rankings.

So the question isn’t, “Does page speed affect my website?” The real question is, “How can I boost my page speed to improve my site?” Start by following the tips below, and you should see quicker load times.

Enable Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

AMP is a new Google feature that stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. It's an open-source initiative that’s meant to dramatically speed up your site on mobile, and it even gives you a boost in Google’s mobile search engine rankings.

Essentially, AMP is a reimagined version of HTML that strips down unnecessary elements like JavaScript and third-party scripts, but don’t worry - AMP loves CSS, so your page will still display the styling you intend it to. The benefit? AMP means your site will load faster and look better on mobile. Google has found that AMP can help boost page speed by 15 to 85 percent.

Since AMP is a subset of HTML, it’s not difficult to learn if you’re familiar with HTML language. AMPproject.org covers how to create an AMP HTML page. If you’re a WordPress user who’s not tech-savvy, there’s good news for you. The official WordPress plugin for AMP support is currently available on Github.com. Simply download the .zip file, install it on your WordPress site like any other plugin, and activate it. Then append “/amp/” to any article page.

Optimize your images

The problem with an image on a web page is that even if it displays as a small thumbnail, users still have to download the original file. Let’s say your image displays as 200 x 300 pixels on your page but the original file you uploaded was 2000 x 3000 pixels. Users’ web browsers have to load the 2000 x 3000 pixel version, which slows the page load time.

Instead, optimize your images for how they show up on the web page. You can do this by using a number of tools that compress the file to the minimum size that will still look clear on your site. Such tools include:

  • EWWW Image Optimizer: This is a plugin for WordPress users that will automatically optimize the images you upload to your site. You can also use it to optimize images you’ve previously uploaded. Although the file size will change, your image quality will remain the same.

  • Tiny PNG: Tiny PNG allows you to bulk optimize up to 20 JPG and PNG images at once. It will compress your files without compromising visible image quality.

  • Compressor.io: This tool allows you to choose between a reduction in picture quality or not, which is something you don’t find with many other tools.

Enable caching

Each time someone visits your site, they have to download all your site’s files from your server. If you’ve enabled browser caching on your site however, that’s not the case. Instead of pulling files from your server, they can store some of your files on their browser so the next time they visit your site, they pull the files from a local source.

Although visitors will have to download your site files the first time they visit your page, each subsequent visit—which can include refreshing the page or moving onto a new page—will mean a faster load time because they’ll be making fewer requests to your server.

If you’re tech-savvy, you can leverage browser caching by editing your HTTP headers and setting expiry dates on certain types of files. If you’re not sure how to do that, you can use tools like the W3 Total Cache WordPress plugin that will do the work for you.

Minify JavaScript and CSS

JavaScript and CSS are types of files on your site that users have to download to view your pages. Minifying your code means getting rid of any comments, whitespace, or characters that are unnecessary in the files. This makes your page load faster because it creates smaller files without compromising how they execute.

You can minify your JavaScript and CSS manually, but it’s typically better to work with a minifying tool so that you don’t introduce new errors. Plugins like W3 Total Cache, which we already mentioned, can help with this since this one has a “minify” setting. Otherwise, try the JavaScript and CSS minify tools at DansTools.com.

Choose a better host

A web host has a huge effect on your site speed because users rely on your server speed to deliver your site’s files quickly. The slower your server, the slower your site will load. If you’re looking to host your site on a faster server, you have two options:

  1. Upgrade your hosting plan. If you go from a shared hosting plan to a dedicated hosting plan, your site will move to a server that has resources dedicated specifically to you. Your server will be quicker to respond to your web visitors’ requests.

  2. Change web hosts. Some companies simply have faster servers than others. For example, Siteground offers fast web hosting, with the average page load speed at 529 ms whereas some other popular hosts average a full second or more to load a page.

Track your website with Pingdom

Once you’ve taken the above steps to speed up your site, you can measure if it’s quicker, and if it stays that way, through tools like Pingdom. Their website speed test is free and allows you to measure your site speed from six different locations across the world.

You’ll also be able to view how well your site fares against others, and you can use their reports to see which images, plugins, and other elements are taking the longest to load. That way, you can make appropriate tweaks to your site without having to guess where the problem lies.

Run a test for your site’s page speed before and after you make the abovementioned changes so you can compare how your alterations affected your site.

Are you ready to boost conversion rates and rank higher on search engines? Let us know which one of these techniques you’ll start with to boost your site speed.

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