Updated Nov 2019
In a time where Google puts its highest priority on user experience, and users are not willing to wait for much of anything… website load time is a critical factor for search engine rankings and retaining potential leads.
There are many factors to consider: browser, website host, device, page content, mobile network, etc. But first, let’s start with YOUR website’s load time.
What’s my website loading speed?
You can check page load time through a couple avenues. If you use Chrome, you can use the Chrome extension “Page Load Time” or a separate tracker like Pingdom. You can also check if your website is loading fast enough for you visitors by checking your bounce rate. Bounce rate can be seen through Google Analytics. If the bounce rate is high, it can indicate load time is too slow. High bounce rate can also negatively impact Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Google Webmaster recommends a maximum of 2 second load time for an ecommerce website, but Google aims for a half a second. That’s fast.
How to make my website faster
Compress: The file size that the browser renders is king. The smaller the image the faster the load time. Here are some tips to optimize your images for faster website load time.
- Resize your images before you upload them onto a page. Don’t load a 5000x3500px image when your image on the page displays at 500×300. Your browser needs to calculate this resizing, and this takes time.
- Use the correct thumbnail size. WordPress automatically generates a set of thumbnails. You should select the smallest thumbnail necessary to reduce your page weight.
- Remove all the metadata from an image to reduce the image size. For example, you don’t need to know what camera was used, where the photo was taken, etc… This can bloat the filesize that the browser needs to render. This takes time.
- Consult your website hosting provider about how to utilize gzip to serve your website files to browsers. Compressing the resources that the browser requests can allow your browser to get information faster.
Design, Coding & Content: The three main factors when building a website, all contributing to website load time. Here are some tips to optimize website design, coding and website content for fast website load time.
- Remove the junk. Many prebuilt templates are built to sell and have ALL the features. By the time you have your content, images, page structure, etc. established, you’re left with a lot of dead weight you’re not using. Delete as much unnecessary data from your template as possible, including images, plugins, and posts.
- Avoid animations and motion. While these make the website feel alive, it does require resources. So you need to decide if they are necessary.
- In your design, pay attention to if your backgrounds and graphics are images or if they are just color fills. Eliminating large background images can go a long way to making your site load faster.
- If speed is a top priority, consider getting a custom-built template. Often, prebuilt templates are built in a complex way to hide code, making it harder for others to “borrow” code. These hiding techniques are good at making it difficult to borrow, but they also sometimes make a browser load more files, or the structure of the code causes render-blocking (some sections on the site cannot render until all the appropriate files are loaded). This can increase load time and create the illusion that the page loads extremely slow.
- During the website design process, don’t force a ton of heavy elements into your design. More isn’t always more. The simplest designs are often the most elegant, and always faster.
- Consult your website development professional to have them help you develop a custom website that is engineered for your needs and the needs of your design.
Other Considerations: Consider utilizing the open-source Accelerated Mobile Pages provided by Google. Basically, Google renders a snapshot of your site instead of reloading it for mobile users, so it loads lightning fast. But be sure to understand the problems with caching for this method of Google displaying your content.
If you’re working with a team that builds websites to look beautiful with best SEO practices in mind, website load time will be considered through every step of the process.