Internet users like faster websites and so do search engines, a faster website will bring a better user experience and more chances to rank higher on Google results.
The statistics don’t lie and in today’s internet world having a faster site is VITAL, but for some reason many people ignore this and they are paying a very expensive price.
Before we start I would like to give you some real facts about how seriously you must take your website loading time:
- Almost half of the internet users will leave a website that doesn’t load in less than 3 seconds.
- 70% of the people will never visit a blog or website that takes more than 4 seconds to load.
- 47% of internet users expect website to load in less than 2 seconds.
- 1 second delay decreases conversions by 7% and 16% user satisfaction.
What you will learn today:
- Why you should care about your site speed
- How fast your site should be loading and performance
- How to measure your site loading time
- How to make your site faster
Importance of loading time of your site
One of the most important ranking factors for search engines (Google, Bing, yahoo,etc) is the user’s experience, all this companies want their users to have the information they are looking for quickly and complete, so they will trust on their results.
The user’s satisfaction will also improve when you can give them a faster access to the information or services you are offering in your site. Just like I mentioned at the beginning of this article speed plays an important roll on your site success.
If you combine quality content with a great site performance you will be giving Google more than one reason to start ranking your articles higher and your users to keep visiting your site.
How fast your site should be loading
According to one of the webmaster analytic at Google (John Mueller), if a site takes over two seconds to load a single URL, it will be limiting the amount of url’s google bots will crawl. This means not only will your website not rank but less url’s will be crawled which is a very important factor.
Google takes it’s users very seriously and like I mentioned, about half of the internet users expect a site to load in less than two seconds. Another Google representative (Maile Ohye) said that two seconds is the limit for an e-commerce website acceptability, but Google aims for under half a second.
Geoff Kenyon wrote on a MOZ blog post that if your site loads in 5 seconds it will be faster than approximately 25% of the whole internet, 2.9 seconds will put you right at 50%, 1.7 seconds at 75% and finally 0.8 seconds at 94% faster than the rest of the web.
Combining all this information with my own experience speeding up our travel blog, I can tell you that there are significant results when you improve your site loading time. My interpretation of how fast your site should be based on my experience and collected is:
- Up to 500ms: Excellent
- From 501ms to 2 seconds: Very Good
- From 2.1 seconds to 4 seconds: OK (average)
- 4.1 seconds and above: Needs to be improve
Also keep in mind that loading speed itself is just one of the over 200 ranking factors that Google uses, so if your site is slow it will be affecting just 0.5% of your ranking score directly, BUT many other factors are related with the loading speed such as the user experience, bounce rate, etc.
Mobile loading time should be as important as your desktop version loading time, an eMarketer survey results about time spent on the internet per adult per day in the USA says that in 2015, the average time is 5.6 hours with 51% on mobiles, 42% on desktop and 7% on other devices.
The weight of your site play a determinate roll in your loading time. The heavier it is the longer will take to load, I always try to keep every site I have less than 1 MB.
How to measure your site loading time and performance
The internet offers a variety of tools you can use to measure the loading time of your site, some of them will give more information than others. I will mention the ones the I personally use when I designing or optimizing a site.
Google Page Speed Insights: This service is provided by Google and it will give you a score from 0 to 100. The ideal results are 85 and above, the test will also give you a list of things you should fix and how to do it for either mobile or desktop version.
Iiseed.com: Since Google PageSpeed services was turned off on August 3rd 2015, you can use this free service instead to collect data about your site performance. They will also give you a 0/100 score and everything above 85 is good but you can always improve it.
Pingdom speed test: A very popular tool that will tell you the page size and the loading time, you can test your site from different major cities in the world and see loading time element by element.
Web page test: Another popular tool that will give you great important information about your site performance, I like the way how they measure different elements in your site performance giving individual scores from A to F. You will also be able to see element by element loading time and weight.
These are just a few of the many tools you can find on the internet, the important thing about using these tools is to realize the current loading time of your site and what elements are causing unnecessary delays.
How to make your site faster
Now that you know the importance of having a website that loads fast and your current loading time, it’s time to go through different factors and recommendations that will help you to speed up your site. Even if your scores are good there is always room for improvment.
You do not need be an expert, invest lots of money or have a lot of experience to do some of the changes. I recommend you to keep track of all the changes you do and have and before and after reference, by doing this you will know if you are going in the right direction.
Optimize your images
I love to place images on my blog post but I am very careful with the weight, remember the heavier the image the longer will take to load. Go to your web page test and check your score on “Compressed images”, then click on the graphic on the “waterfall” column and check which images (.jpg .png) are taking longer to load.
Then click on the line where you will see the element description (#.description), you will see a pop up box with all the information about that element. You can copy the URL open it on your browser and then save it.
I use Photoshop to check the exact weight of the picture and optimize it for web. It’s very important to use the exact size and save it for web as you can see in the next image.
If you are doing this you will notice a big differences on the size of the picture, you can find this option in most of the image editors but I recommend you Photoshop which has a cheaper version online.
Once you have finished checking your site images and all of them are optimized you can install WP Smush and run it to get the best image compression sizes.
Get rid of unnecessary plugins
Plugins are very helpful and save us lots of time, but sometimes having too many can cause conflicts and slow down your site. Go to your plugins section and evaluate which plugins are vital and delete the ones that you don’t use.
Upgrade for a faster hosting service
For me it was a game changer when I switched from my shared hosting account to a premium account, I remember we went from 8+ seconds to less than 3 seconds by changing our hosting provider.
There are many great hosting companies out there that might cost you double or triple of what your current company charge you but the results are worth the investment, you can take a look of companies like WPEngine or Traffic Planet Hosting. Both have 60 and 30 days money back guarantee.
Content Delivery Network
CDN’s are like the cherry on top, basically they are a group of proxy servers that will deliver your content according to your readers and their location in a faster way. You will be saving bandwidth and your blog’s performance will definitely improve.
I use Maxcdn as my content delivery network but there are also free services as CloudFlare.
Take a quick look at your theme, check when was the last update and see if the developer has made any changes to improve performance. Some theme developers stop updating and improving their themes without notice, e specially the free ones.
In my case I always look for themes that use HTML 5 and the latest css, I also avoid heavy themes loading with lots of code that will slow down it’s performance, I use Genesis for most of the sites I build for clients and the results are always good, light and fast. There are many options of great themes at Theme Forest that are very fast and very well coded.
Having a caching plugin has become a standard common application on any site, a plugin like W3 Total Plugin will improve your loading time.
Your site performance is definitely something that you have to pay attention, many important factors like: user experience, conversions and traffic are related with speed.
The bottom line is that the competition is getting bigger every day and in order to keep up and provide the best for our readers we need to optimize our sites the best we can.