12 Techniques of Website Speed Optimization: Performance Testing and Improvement Practices

There are several aspects to website performance optimization, but none more important than the speed in which your site loads. Visitors to your site will abandon an unacceptably slow page load for something else if they wait more than about 17-seconds for a single page to be delivered. Thus, the focal point of a superiorly designed, technologically advanced website is the speed with which it loads.

The website speed is one of the most important factors in determining whether your visitors keep coming back or whether they decide to look for another resource. If you want to ensure a smooth experience for your users, you need a fast website. A site with a high loading time is likely to lose a lot of customers and it may not even show up on the search engine result page.

High-performing websites attract more qualified leads and create a positive user experience. Reducing the page load time for your site will have a positive impact on your marketing and sales processes. You’ll get more traffic from the same amount of ad spend, and you’ll see an increase in leads that can be turned into customers. We’ll cover ways to speed up your website and the performance of your web pages in future articles.

Website speed optimization

Importance of website speed optimization

Page load time is an important metric to evaluate the performance of the website. Here are the three key factors of the performance that influence conversion, visibility and usability:

Conversion

Converting your website traffic into paying customers is very important for your business success. This means getting your website visitors to do what you want them to do. For example, they will buy your products, sign up for your newsletter campaigns, register for a webinar, or download a valuable report.

If the page doesn’t load fast enough, people get impatient and move on to something else. Slow page loading time drastically reduces your sales. In fact, according to the Hubspot research, a 1 second delay in page-loading time means a 7% reduction in conversions.

Visibility

A website that loads quickly gives the impression to the viewer that your website is well organized, easy to navigate and has an efficient backend infrastructure. Therefore, a viewer will have a positive first impression of your website which can lead to higher levels of trust and increased sales.

Since December 2017, Google has started ranking web pages according to their mobile version as well. This is done in order to protect mobile users from poor performing sites and those that don’t meet the needs of mobile devices.

Usability

Websites are made up of three main components: the site design, the website content, and the web server technology. If your website doesn’t perform well or loads too slowly, your users won’t have a good experience. As the popularity of mobile phones continues to increase, websites need to be designed with mobile users in mind to ensure they’re easy to use and optimized for a mobile connection.

How to assess your website speed

If you haven’t done it already, you need to determine your current loading time for your website. Once you know that number, you should set a goal for page load time under three seconds, the recommendation for 2018. Just a tiny percentage of websites is actually optimized for speed. That means, most of your website visitors will be leaving your site very frustrated and likely to go to a competitor’s site.

US mobile average speed index
US mobile average speed index

Optimizing your site speed is the best way to rank in search engines and outrank your competitors.

These are very different ways of speeding up your site and they should be implemented one at a time until you find the combination that works best for you. Then once you’ve optimized your website speed in all these areas, you should stop and monitor everything to make sure the speed increase is sustainable.

There are several performance evaluation tools that are worth your time. Start by testing yourself with these 4 assessment tools to get a baseline.

You can get great insights into your web page performance with the free Google PageSpeed Insights tool. This tool provides great performance insights, so you can optimize your site for both desktop and mobile visitors.

Pingdom is a web page performance tracking and improvement tool. Among other things, it will tell you where your site is slow, make recommendations on how to improve the performance of your site, and generate detailed reports that are easy to understand. Pingdom is a must-have tool for anyone who owns or operates a website. It’s the perfect tool for website speed monitoring and it comes in both free and paid versions for both Android and iOS devices.

YSlow is an online tool which evaluates a website’s performance and suggests ways to make the site more efficient, thereby increasing its performance.

Performance Budget Calculator is a free tool that helps determine what type of content you should use to keep your site running at peak performance. It’s very useful for those of you with a “performance budget” for marketing expenses.

Performance budget calculator
Performance budget calculator

Guidelines to speed up your website

We created the list of the most effective ways to make your website work faster. Once you test the speed of your site, you can start using the techniques on the list to make your site work even faster.

1. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A content delivery network is a type of network architecture that allows servers to serve the web pages closer to the users who need them. When your website is hosted on a single server, the users’ requests are directed to the same machine. As a result, the response time increases. If the users are physically located away from the server, the load time also increases. A CDN uses multiple web servers at different geographical locations and directs user requests to the closest server. As a result, the web page is delivered quicker and a website works faster. Nowadays, CDNs are not expensive at all so we highly recommend you to use BunnyCDN. It’s performance – price ratio is unbeatable!

2. Get your site a better hosting

There are 3 hosting types available:

  • Shared hosting
  • Virtual private server (VPS)
  • Dedicated server

When it comes to selecting the best web host, most people (even experienced webmasters) choose the cheapest option which is usually shared hosting. That’s like choosing a slow car when you are in a race with the other fast cars. Sure, the slowest car will win the race but it will certainly lose by a large margin. It’s essential to choose the fastest web host to ensure better optimization. With VPS or dedicated server, you have complete control over your server and you can make it as fast as your website needs to be. Most times it’s not a good idea to select shared hosting over a VPS. There are some exceptions of course. There are some premium providers on the market which don’t oversell their servers and using a shared hosting from them is good solution. In some cases such hosting is highly optimized and can be even faster than a VPS.

 

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