A website visitor doesn’t appreciate slow loading pages. A lot of surveys prove the fact that people aren’t willing to wait (even for a few seconds) for a page to load. People don’t have the patience nor time to hit the reload button continuously either.
Since page speed seriously affected the user experience forcing them to bounce back, Google decided to consider page speed as a criterion to rank websites. With Google’s Speed Update, all the website developers and owners were expected to improve their website’s page speed.
Page speed is the measurement of the time taken to completely load all the contents on a page when a user clicks a link or when the browser requests the server.
A page speed performance score in Google’s PageSpeed Insights of 90 or above is accounted as fast, while 50 to 90 is considered moderate and anything below 50 is slow.
Maintaining an optimum page speed is crucial because it directly influences your website’s domain authority and conversions. If you need any professional help in boosting the page speed of your website, do connect with us. We have an amazing team of web developers to help you out!
Let’s take a look at some methods to increase your website’s page speed.
Compressed files consume relatively less storage space compared to ones that are not. Compressing files instantly speeds up the data transfer process and saves bandwidth.
Gzip is a popular data compression software program that is used to compress files for WordPress websites. Gzip combines all the files into a zip folder so that the files can load faster on a browser. The browser then unzips the contents and displays them to the user.
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
Minifying these files, and combining them helps in shrinking each of the files as well as the total number of files. It means to remove all those unnecessary white spaces inside the code (extra spaces, line breaks, and indentation), remove pieces of code that are not being used, etc.
Often such codes are present in pages built using page builders, although they have made the page building task easier, they brought in some messy code that slows the website down.
WP Rocket is an effective plugin to minify and combine files for WordPress website holders. After installation, go to Static Sites and select the files to be combined, further hit the Save Changes button. Now go back and check page speed yourself!
Also, remember it is ideal to keep only a few elements on the website so that the browser needs to make only a few HTTP requests.
Images are an important element in a website. But they can be one of the reasons slowing down your website speed. Often, large image files take time to load on the webpage. They can’t be removed for sure (imagine an eCommerce website with no images), but at least they can be compressed.
You can always crop the images to a size that is exactly required. Uploading a bigger-sized image and then setting its width to a smaller dimension slows down the website. This eats up a lot of time because the site has to load the large image first and then again spend time adjusting its size.
Use tools and plugins to optimize images on the website. One highly recommended plugin for WordPress website users is WP Smush.
The reason is that the browser doesn’t have to send another HTTP request and wait for a response from the server the second time. Also, it doesn’t have to download the elements again if it’s already there in the cache.
So it’s much more convenient if the browser caching is enabled for a website. Add an expires header for your website or simply install a caching plugin if you have a WordPress website.
Expires header asks the browser if the elements to load the contents of the website are available in the cache memory itself or needs to be requested from the server. For this, access the .htaccess file from the root directory and paste the following piece of code.
## EXPIRES CACHING ##
ExpiresByType image/jpg “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/png “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType text/css “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/pdf “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access plus 1 year”
ExpiresDefault “access plus 2 days”
## EXPIRES CACHING ##
Here, the file expirations were enabled first, then the expiry time limit was set to certain files and file types. Change the expiry time limit as per your website requirements; finally, in the code, the default expiry time is also set for the files that weren’t specified in the code.
There are several caching plugins for WordPress users namely WP Total Cache, WP Super Cache, Add Expires Headers, etc. In this, after activation, go to settings and set the expiry time you wish.
Redirects are often used in instances when users and search engines need to be forwarded from one URL to another. This happens while deleting pages, moving contents from one page to another, changing domains, or while merging websites.
Redirects again demand additional HTTP requests, which slows down the page. But at times it is difficult to completely avoid redirects on websites, although Google says an ideal website devoid of any redirects.
Screaming Frog is a tool that gives insights into all the redirects on your website. Scan the website to sort the data based on “Status Code” and all the 301 redirects within your website can be viewed. Go through all the redirects and check if they serve their purpose.
Also, identify if there are any chain redirects and make changes in the .htaccess file so that the chain gets eliminated by directly pointing to the latest version of the page.
Suppose there is an interactive footer at the bottom of your website and it’s powered by the “interactivefooter.js” file. Sometimes, websites have their code mentioning this file in the top part of the code although it’s effect comes in the footer part. Now this forces the browser to download the file which is of no use until a user scrolls down till the footer part.
Make use of Content distribution network
Using a content distribution network (CDN) to host all your files is a highly recommended method to speed up your page. A CDN is a distributed network of servers that alleviate the burden for each server of delivering content. This will help to deliver responses to the requests in a quicker manner.
Suppose a user from the other part of the world wishes to access the contents of the website, their browser can very well access the elements from their nearest server. Since hosting on a CDN makes your files quickly accessible to anyone in any part of the world, it can significantly reduce the time taken for loading a page. Also, using a CDN can protect the website from any DDoS (Denial-of-service ) attacks or traffic spikes.
Proper quality of web hosting
Many of the new site owners prefer a cheaper hosting option. Well, they don’t realize choosing a proper hosting based on their scale of business is important. Technical glitches occurring due to improper hosting can seriously affect page speed.
Almost all the hosting providers have at least three basic plans in common, they are:
- Shared hosting
- VPS hosting
- Dedicated server
Shared hosting can be used by small scale websites that expect a low-traffic. These sites can get affected by traffic spikes, and have to share disk space, CPU and RAM with other websites under the same server. People usually prefer this because it’s the cheapest option available.
In a VPS hosting, the server still gets shared by different sites but will enjoy the benefits of having its own part of the server’s resources. It’s a relatively safer ground compared to buying a dedicated server.
A website under dedicated hosting has a server of its own and is accountable for any maintenance work. Large scale businesses usually require this hosting option.
Switch to a better plan when your website receives more traffic and choose the right plan suiting your business, otherwise, you are wasting that money thinking you have saved something!
Reduce Server Response time (TTFB)
Time to first byte (TTFB) is simply the time the browser has to wait until it receives its first byte of data from the server. This time is crucial because it determines the page loading speed. The lesser the TTFB, the lesser the time taken to load the page.
The server response time depends on factors such as the amount of website traffic received, resources used by each page, software used by the server, the hosting provider for the website, etc.
A fast WordPress host, usage of CDN, proper caching, and a premium DNS provider can ensure a shorter TTFB.
According to GooglePageSpeed insights, a page speed under 200ms is highly appreciable. TTFB can be measured using tools such as DevTools, Gtmetrics, etc. So measure regularly to have a check on your website loading speed.
Reduce Plugins Numbers
A lot of plugins are available in WordPress, serving solutions to an infinite number of developer’s concerns. They eliminate the burden of coding for various functionalities. They are readily available to install and use, however it comes with the cost of slowing down your website in addition to security issues.
Constantly updating and maintaining a lot of plugins can be a tedious task. But, it is also not possible to completely avoid plugins on your website; you can regularly evaluate the already installed plugins and delete the ones that aren’t required/important.
If you wish to implement certain functionality on your website, research and figure out ways to do it rather than directly using a plugin.
Boosting your website’s page speed can have a positive impact on the overall site performance. It increases the possibility of a user to prefer your website over others.
Mobile internet users dominate now and if your website speed can’t meet their performance expectations, then it would be difficult for your website to survive.
Host storage space consuming resources like videos on third party sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, or Wistia and then embed them on to your site.
Use tools like Google’s TestMySite, Pingdom, YSlow, and Lighthouse to monitor page loading speed. Take time to figure out the factor slowing down your website.
You may not require all the methods mentioned above, but it is important to fix even small factors weighing down your website’s speed.
If you still feel this is way beyond your expertise and would like getting some professional help to increase the page speed of your website, our team of expert web developers are here to help you🙂