Top Tips For Improving Your Site Speed
The loading speed of your website is a crucial element to the overall popularity, traffic and subsequent conversions of your site, for numerous different reasons. The speed of a website is an important SEO element, as Google (and other search engines) are reluctant to reward slow-loading sites with high rankings.
So your site speed can affect the amount of traffic your website receives, particularly from search engines, but what about when users reach your website? Research has shown that a significant percentage of people will click away from a website that takes too long to load, with the vast majority of those users never returning to the website after that one negative experience.
Even if a user is patient and waits for your content to load, it’s unlikely that they will wait for every page to load, and if you’re an ecommerce site they’re far more unlikely to trust your site with their credit card details if it’s slow loading.
With such an impact on the perception and usage of your website, you can see why a site with a low speed should be addressed as quickly as possible. So how can we go about improving our site speed? Here are some top tips for doing just that:
1. Find out your current site speed
You’ll need to figure out how fast your site is compared to other websites before you start addressing any potential issues; whilst general checks are a good way to judge generally, a lot of it could be related to your internet connection so you’ll need to use an external tool that can give you far more specific information.
The best tool for this is the site speed section in Google Webmaster Tools, as this is provided by Google and gives you an accurate idea of your site speed compared to the majority of other sites.
2. Combine and externalise CSS files
Your website is far more likely to load quickly if it can reference one external cascading style sheet (CSS), rather than a difference CSS file for each page. Combine them all into one and minimise the source code as much as you can.
3. Compress your content
HTTP compression can be an excellent method for reducing your site speed, as it combines all of your website data into one file, rather than needed to request and reference numerous different files.
4. Optimise your website images
This is an important element in improving your overall site speed and can have a surprisingly notable impact. Different file formats (jpg, jpeg, png, gif, etc) have a varying impact on site speed, with some file extensions causing a substantial increase in file size. Know when to use the correct formats and optimise your images with site speed in mind (for example, GIF files tend to load quicker than JPEG or PNG files).
5. Put your Google Analytics code in the footer or at the bottom
If your GA code is at the top of your HTML document, then the browser will load this information before anything below, giving the impression that the site is loading slowly. Move your GA code to the footer or lower down the HTML body to ensure that browsers load your page content before the analytics, making the page seem much faster to users.