5 Tips to Make Your Site Load Faster and Why it Matters
Over the past few years, blogging has really come into its own, with the Internet now hosting around 152,000,000 blogs. What was once just a form of social communication has now been adopted by millions of companies, in an attempt to market themselves better. Fast company suggests that 62% of marketers now blog, or plan to blog in their future marketing activity.
Blogging is a topic we could talk about forever, but for now we are going to focus on how the speed of your site directly affects the success of your blog.
Loading time is a major factor in terms of page abandonment. Users, just like ourselves (and I hold my hands up to this), have very little patience when it comes to waiting for a web page to load. According to research by Instant America, one in four people abandon a web page that takes over four seconds to load. As well as this, a total of 50% of mobile users leave a page after 10 seconds, and three in five of them will not return to that site!
Optimizing your site or blog for faster loading times not only reduces the bounce rate, which ultimately leads to increased conversions, but also increases your authority with Google. It increases ranking in search engines and increases the likelihood of return visits, thus generating more traffic. So now you know the benefits of a faster loading time, you might want to test your site speed out.
Using free tools such as Pingdom, you can research and test out your site speed. By entering your URL, the tool will crawl your site and let you know how fast it loads. As well as this, it will also highlight where your site or blog could be optimised for more efficient loading times. This advice from Pingdom may be very useful, but just in case you want to know more about increasing page speed, I have listed 5 methods below:
Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
A CDN is basically a huge system of servers that store data across the Internet, with the goal of relaying this data back to end-users. These systems store all types of files, including images, videos, text documents and other media files.
Setting up and using a CDN allows your content to be viewed worldwide, without having to load your files from a singular location. For example, if someone in Australia was to view your content, the files would be uploaded to your blog from the nearest location to the end user, thus decreasing the loading time of the page.
For more information on how you can set up and integrate a CDN into your blog visit quicksprout.com.
Optimise Your Images
Before uploading your images, make sure you are checking that they are the correct size and format. Google has a great guide illustrating how you should be optimising web graphics to best suit your blog. Having images that are too large or having any kind of media that is in the incorrect format drastically increases the page’s lag time.
It is not enough to just downsize your images in the HTML editor, as this only changes the front-end appearance of the image, not the actual file size. There are some great tools to use for optimising images, Yahoo’s Smushit being one I would recommend. Dynamic drive is also a good tool to use for optimising animated gifs, jpgs and pngs so they load as fast as possible on your site.
Use Caching Plugins
Caching is an area of a computer’s memory used to temporarily store recently used information, such as images, files and HTML pages. Having this information stored in your local hard drive makes it faster for the end user to access the files, for example the content used on your blog. When a user returns to your blog, the browser will pull the files from the cache plug in, rather than have to access the original server and receive the files from here. Ultimately this will increase the speed of your end user’s experience.
As well as recording previously visited pages, the plugins will also save a copy of the most frequently visited pages. For example, if 2,000 people were to visit your site, the browser would use these copies to show the end users, instead of having to connect back to the original server each time. As you can imagine, when you have high traffic due to a successful blog post, these plugins will help your site keep running smoothly.
For more information on installing your own cache plugins, visit wpbeginner.com as they have a very simple and easy to follow guide on setting up cache plugins.
Deactivate Unused Widgets and Plugins
Having mentioned setting up a cache plugin, it is just as important to deactivate any unused plugins. The same goes for any widgets that you are not currently using or hold no value to your blog. Having more plugins and widgets immediately lowers the speed of a blog, due to the extra weight is has to carry to keep these running.
The P3 Profiler tool is a great way of analysing which plugins are costing your site its speed. The plugin basically creates a profile of your sites performance by looking into the impact of the plugin on your site’s loading time.
Choose the Right Web Host
A web host is a company that will store your data and give the end user access to your content. Before you invest in a web host, make sure you check the credentials to see if they are up to scratch. The server is the foundation of how fast your site will load, so investing time in researching a strong web host is essential.
Free web hosts are usually slow, so I would recommend avoiding using these. When you are starting out, it is unlikely you will have your own dedicated server, and therefore you may have to start with a shared hosting plan. If this is the case, double check the bandwidth of the server; as if there are a lot of users on this plan, there will need to be a very high rate of bandwidth that isn’t shared.
It is also essential that your server provides you with confirmation that it will be successfully up and running, as if the server goes down, so does your site. To ensure no large damage to your site if the server fails, there is a plugin called Jetpack, which continuously checks for server downtime and notifies you in the case of a web host failure, meaning you can start working on rectifying the issue and getting your site back up straightaway.