Website speed is important! Google has been saying it for years.
In recent times, many web developers, SEO specialists and digital marketers are realizing this. That’s why 2018 was full of guides and blog posts on improving website speed and its benefits.
And with such buzz, 2019 will be the year of optimizing websites for better loading speeds. Websites will get faster than ever before, and you certainly don’t want to fall behind the competition.
To help out, we have prepared a list of things you can do to improve your website speed. Let’s get to it straight away.
A good hosting provider is an integral part of better performing website in terms of loading speed. If you don’t get enough server resources, your site will be slow no matter what. Make sure the host you choose is providing you enough RAM and CPU usage, bandwidth and disk space.
Besides resources, make sure your host is using PHP7 (provided that you have a PHP-based site). PHP7 is two times faster than the previous version and it has been around since 2015 and is the de facto standard.
If all this kind of research is a bit too much for you, folks who made the insightful infographic below are web hosting experts.
Based on the extensive testing of speed, reliability, customer support, and resources, they tagged Bluehost as one of the fastest hosting providers.
Another thing to check is if your site uses HTTP/2 protocol to serve resources instead of HTTP/1.1. HTTP/2 has quicker header compression and can process simultaneous HTTP requests.
This is because HTTP/2 lets servers “push” content. Typically, a client has to send one HTTP request for each page element. But with HTTP/2, the server can predict which content to send before getting a request. As pages consist of numerous elements, this saves time and server resources.
Sometimes, redirects are unavoidable. You can use them to show that a certain page has moved or to reserve multiple similar domain names.
However, there are unnecessary redirects. If there are five redirects between a homepage and its mobile version, you can probably optimize redirects.
Imagine if you were looking for a certain place. You ask a passerby for directions. However, when you follow the directions you get to another person who gives you a different set of directions. This repeats 3 more times. Annoying, right?
That’s what redirects are like. All the redirecting adds delay to load times. Avoid redirects and use them as sparingly as possible if you want your site to be fast.
We mentioned many elements make up a web page. Well, images are usually the largest element. You can probably guess that larger elements take longer to send and slow down your site.
Sure, your images might look like they’re the right size. But if you only used the width parameter to make them fit into the document, you didn’t change the file size.
Clients still have to download the full image and there’s a world of difference between downloading a 2MB image and a 100KB one.
One way to solve this is to resize images in a visual editor before uploading them. Photoshop or any other editor that allows optimization for the Web does the trick. Just set the desired height and width in pixels and you’re good to go.
Now, we know what you’re thinking. It’s a real pain to do this every time you want to upload an image. Luckily, there are other ways to optimize images.
If you own a custom-coded website, however, there’s just a bit more work. Image compressors like Compressor.io can compress images without a hassle.
We can’t stress this part enough. Mobile versions of websites are insanely important and they are also what most people get wrong.
Most traffic comes from mobile devices, and not desktop computers. And with Google’s 2018 speed update, mobile speed factors into search rankings.
The market is already catching up. The average mobile speed shrunk from 22 to 15 seconds last year. So mobile websites are getting faster, but they still have a long way to go. This gives you enough time to get ahead of the competition and make your site mobile-friendly.
You can start by optimizing images for mobile downloads. Images appear smaller on mobile screens, so there’s really no need to make visitors download huge images.
Another thing to do is build Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP is a project that makes pages load insanely fast on mobile phones and tablets. Also according to Hubspot, AMP pages use 10 times less data compared to a non-AMP webpage.
Google also reports that this makes them load for a quarter of the usual load time.
To sum up, if you want a fast website, make sure to have a good hosting provider and that your website runs on PHP7. HTTP/2 makes pages also much faster.
Avoid unnecessary redirects. In fact, avoid anything you don’t need. With websites, less is more, and the less fancy widgets and other page elements, the faster a page loads.
Don’t forget about optimizing your site for mobile devices. Surfing on mobile phones and tablets will only get more popular and you want to take advantage of all that traffic before the competition beats you to it.