Slow things make people annoyed.
Traffic on the interstate. The person in front of you in line at the store. A restaurant meal taking too long to cook.
It’s enough to drive people crazy.
It makes sense that slow loading speeds on websites make people upset too. 53% of people abandon their visits to mobile sites if the page takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
But’s it’s not just humans that don’t like slow websites.
Google’s algorithm has included site speed as a SERP factor since 2010. If your website is slow, it will hurt your company’s chances of getting a good ranking.
At the same time, a fast website is a guaranteed SEO booster. But what can you do to speed up your site? Here are 5 speedy tips to find favor with humans and search engines alike.
Minify Your Code
Every character and line of code in your site’s framework adds another fraction of a second to load times.
For a faster website, simplicity is key.
When writing a website’s code, it’s common for a developer to space and organize the code for better readability. It’s easier to look at and work with code when each mark is on its own line.
A few extra spaces or tabs don’t hurt the code’s functionality. The site will still work according to what’s written. But the more characters there are, the longer it takes a computer to read and deliver that code.
Removing unnecessary characters from code is called minification. You can do it manually, or use one of the many online tools to do it automatically.
Minification is easy to do and will bring faster speeds for a guaranteed SEO improvement.
Trimming the fat from your code makes it much easier and faster for servers and computers to read and deliver your site.
High-resolution images make your website look great. They also can drag down your performance.
Luckily, you can optimize these images for the web to keep your site visually appealing without bogging it down.
Images that come straight from a good camera can have massive dimensions. Hi-res photos include a lot of pixels and other data that increase your file size.
Your first step to optimizing images is to resize them. You can do this using Photoshop, GIMP or another image editing tool.
How much you can reduce the dimensions depends on how you’re using the image. You can compress an image more for a small thumbnail than for a larger banner or background image. Be careful not to over-do your resizing, or images can become blurry and pixelated.
Another step to optimizing your images is picking the right file type. There are three universally supported image formats: GIF, JPEG, and PNG.
GIF and PNG files each have special qualities compared to JPEG. Both can support transparency, and GIFs can support animation.
PNGs use lossless compression, while JPEGs use lossy compression. This means PNGs offer higher fidelity but at the cost of large file sizes. JPEGs have a much smaller file size while still providing a decent quality image.
In most cases, use JPEG for pictures unless image quality is of utmost importance.
Use a Content Delivery Network
If you order a pizza, you’d order it from a place near your house. You wouldn’t buy pizza from somewhere two hours away. Delivery would take too long and your pizza would get cold.
Server requests for web browsing work in the same way.
Retrieving website information from a server physically located close to you is quicker than doing so from a server that’s far away. The further each byte of data has to travel, the more delay in loading.
The solution for this is hosting your site on a content delivery network (CDN).
A CDN has servers set up at locations throughout the world. If someone tries to visit your site, their computer gets the data from the server with the nearest proximity.
Most CDNs are a paid service, but there are free options as well. Your web developer or hosting provider can provide more information on CDNs.
If you want better speeds and guaranteed SEO for a global audience, a CDN might be a good investment.
Leverage Browser Caching
When a computer first visits a site, it needs to request all the data on your page. Images, texts, scripts, and other elements are seen for the first time.
But once the browser gets its first look at the site, it can remember many of those elements.
Enabling browser caching allows web browsers to store most of the information about your site locally.
Caching means faster load speeds for other pages and for future visits. As we looked at when talking about CDNs, the less distance information has to travel, the quicker it loads. What could be faster than having that info already on your own computer?
By storing some information, your browser only needs to go back to the server to update anything that is new.
You can leverage caching by adding some markups to your code that tell browsers how to handle your data. There’s also plenty of plug-ins for WordPress users that help do this as well.
By taking advantage of caching, you can make a visitor’s web browser to work in your favor.
Monitor Your Site
The web is always changing, and sometimes it affects your website. That’s why it’s important to regularly monitor your site’s speed.
Maybe your host is having some server hiccups and your site loads slower than usual. Even if you can’t immediately fix it you can still pass any information you learn to your site’s visitors. A simple tweet to make your readers aware of the situation can buy you a few extra seconds of patience.
Checking your site can also help you discover broken links or other problems. These issues can slow your site and are guaranteed SEO hinderances. Monitoring your site helps to discover these problems right away.
Checking your site’s health can be as simple as pasting your URL into Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
More Help for Guaranteed SEO
Website speed is just one of many factors that can help or hurt your SERP ranking.
OSO is a full-service digital development company that can help take your online presence to the next level. See how our services can help your company today.