How to keep your page speed in the green

There are many advantages to making sure you keep your website’s page speed in the green. I’m sure you’ve landed on a website before that was taking quite a bit of time to load. Weren’t you bored? Getting antsy? Frustrated? Kind of pissed off? I mean, we live in an age of things happening so fast we practically can’t see our own shadows anymore. Everything needs to be done now, right now, yesterday, which is pretty much why fast food restaurants are so successful: we just don’t have any time anymore, or can’t be bothered to take it.

But back to that website you were visiting. It was taking forever to load, right? What if your own visitors are banging their heads against their screen, frustrated beyond belief that your website is taking forever to load? That site got you to abandon before it fully loaded and lose you as a customer, I’m sure, and if your own visitors are abandoning, then you are also losing customers.

You don’t want to be that site.

You want happy customers visiting a super converting website with an awesome user experience.

How a quick website creates an awesome user experience

1. Your bounce rates won’t be as high and you’ll lose conversions

Bounce rate, in analytics talk, means the rate of people that become disinterested in your site and leave it. A high bounce rate logically means more people are leaving your site more quickly, and a low bounce rate means you’re doing something right and they’re sticking around, browsing your site for more.

If you have a high bounce rate, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s because your site is slow, but it could be a culprit.People are less willing to stick around if a website takes longer than 5 seconds to load, and that’s actually a fairly generous number; nowadays people often lose interest around 3 or 4 seconds into a load time.

And it means you can lose sales.

2. Google will fu you

Back in 2010, Google announced that it was going to snub slow-loading sites in its rankings on its results pages. Now, yeah, sure, you may be uber relevant and have awesome information to present yourself as an expert in your field, but if your site loads slowly, then less people are going to see you on SERPs (search engine results pages).

If you want more traffic to your site, take my advice and play nice to Google, if no one else (although I’d recommend being nice in general).

So… what’s a good page speed?

In general, you’ll want to keep your page loading speed below 5 seconds and, as I mentioned above, that’s actually a little generous. Better yet would be to keep it under 3 seconds, to ensure the best user experience you can offer a visitor. Ideally, everyone would love to load a site in under a second, but if you’ve a site with pictures strewn here and there, then it’s going to rack up a little. Pictures are not the only factor, but they contribute, especially the larger they are.

Let’s speed things up

1. Optimize your images

If you have a significant amount of images on your website (like, say, you are a photographer), then your images are pretty much the bulk of your content and will cause the load time of your website to slug down considerably if they are larger than needed. If you see that the file size reduction is marginal, then it won’t greatly affect your site load time, but if it is more than a few hundred kilobytes, then you can be sure it will positively affect your site load time.

I currently have a plugin that takes care of large files and re-processes them for me called Imsanity. It “stops insanely huge image uploads” according to its summary, and it’s been serving me well since I started using it. I also use a plugin called EWWW Image Optimizer which reduces the file sizes of even images that have proper heights and/or widths.

2. Reduce server response time

Sometimes there’s no other option than to change your hosting package or provider. Cheap hosting (such as shared hosting packages) often means slow speeds, due to the fact that many hosting companies put too many clients onto one server, thereby creating longer server response times due to the larger amount of queries sent to that server and bloating it with too much bandwidth or database memory used at the same time.

You get what you pay for, they say. They would be right.

3. Reduce offsite content

Functionalities like Google Fonts, social counter widgets for Facebook or Twitter, sharing buttons, or hosted scripts like Google Analytics, Vimeo videos, hotlinked images, and so on, will bloat your page load time. If those sites experience slowdowns or downtimes, or hacking attacks, your site will be forced to wait until either an error is produced or your page skips the element and keeps loading.

Look, social counters are fun, cool and show off how popular you and your posts are. You may use them, or sharing buttons, or Vimeo videos, and so on, at your own leisure, but it would be best to keep them at a minimum and to be aware that they are located offsite and may slow down your page if something happens to that site.

4. Install a caching plugin

Indeed, reducing your amount of plugins is best for optimal performance, but a caching plugin, when configured correctly, will increase the speed on your visitors’ future visits. It doesn’t take up much memory either.

5. Increase Memory

The following advice is from the WordPress Codex on how you can attempt to increase the memory allocated to your site:click here to view the article on increasing the memory limit for php sites.

Some hosts will not allow you to edit the php.ini file, so you may need to forego that option entirely… or change hosts…

Let’s wrap up

We all want to visit a website with a quick page speed load time. Why not build a website with that purpose in mind? There are very simple tricks that will help keep your website performant, quick and painless: optimizing images, reducing server response time (probably by switching hosts), reducing offsite content, installing a caching plugin, and increasing your website’s memory. Doing this will benefit both you and your customers in the long run, trust me!