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Why your website page speed is important and how to optimize it

Web surfers are very impatient. They do not want to wait for your website to load – they are used to getting information quickly, when they need it. Do you know how long it takes your website to load? Do you know how many potential visitors and customers are pressing the back button because they are waiting for pages to load on your website? If you don’t, perhaps it’s time to find out.

Why is my website’s speed important?

Your website is often the first point of communication between your organization and your potential customers. Even if you are receiving a phone call about your product or service, it is likely that the person on the other end of the call has already visited your website.

For most businesses this is exactly what we want – the ability to provide information to potential customers quickly and cheaply through our website, while trying to convert those visitors into paying customers. The load time of your website plays a huge part in how successful that process is and many people fail to measure it.

Slow loading speeds cause users to press the back button

You spent a lot of time and money getting your website to the front page of Google so that potential customers can find you. When they search for a query, they are presented with a lot of information. Websites all competing for the first page and many with very similar products, services, and information. If you are lucky enough to have that visitor click through to your website, do not lose them by making them wait.

The threshold is different for everyone, but most visitors will not wait any longer than a few seconds for your website to load. They will simply press the back button and choose one of the other results.

Slow speeds are used in Google’s ranking algorithm

Google has announced on multiple occasions that they use a website’s initial load speed as one of the many ranking factors for their search engine. Wondering why you can’t crack the first page for a competitive term? Perhaps it’s your website’s speed that’s slowing your business down.

Slow speeds = less money

It’s that simple. The speed of your website is important because the more visitors you lose to it, the less chance you have at converting those visitors and making more money.

How can I find out how fast my website is?<?h3>

There are two major tests when measuring a website’s loading speed. The first is the initial visit and the second is the returning visit. People that have already been to your website will have some of your content cached in their browser in order to make the experience quicker for them when they revisit. When you browse your own website, this is exactly what is happening, so you might not have the true picture of just how fast (or slow) your website is.

There are many tools out there to test a web page. We recommend the site, Web Page Test. What is more important than the tool you use is that you use the same tool every time you test. The tests can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes depending on how many people are using it and it will give you a good idea as to how fast your web site really is.

Remember, this tool measures pages, not entire websites. If you have multiple landing pages that are different for a variety of keywords, you may want to test and optimize each one separately.

How can I make my website faster?

Optimize your website code and content

Inefficient code and content is the number one cause for slow websites. If you are displaying images, make sure they are as compressed as possible, and that whenever possible, you use text and wording in place of static images as it will load much quicker. Cleaning up your css files to remove any duplicate and redundant code is a must.

For most designers and developers, this is an after thought. They design and build a great looking website but they often neglect the code, as long as it works. Removing unnecessary and redundant code can increase your website’s performance. For more information on this you can check out some resources over at www.webdesignhq.ca.

Consider caching

If your website runs a content management system, it’s likely that every time a visitor lands on your site, a database needs to be queried in order to return the website. This extra step can add time to your load speed. When possible, considering caching options that will load your website as a static page from the information in the database. You can set it to cache only for a certain time frame so that you know your website is always fresh.

Reconsider your host

Your web hosting situation is another common issue when it comes to the speed of your website. If you are still running your website on a shared web hosting package, it may be time to look at something a little more reliable. Although shared hosting is great for starter and personal websites, the fact that it has shared resources across potentially thousands of websites make it a risky choice for businesses whose websites are crucial.

It may be time to upgrade to a vps hosting or a dedicated server hosting package. This will give your website its own dedicated resources that will allow it to run and load much quicker.

Physical location of your host is another thing to consider. For example, if your primary market is in the southern states, it would only make sense to have your host and server located there as well. This is why we have data centers located all across North America.

Use a content deliver network for static content

Do you have a lot of static content, like large images or videos that you often display to every visitor. If this is the case, you can typically cut speeds in half by delivering this content through a content deliver network.

If you aren’t sure where to start with this, contact your web host or server provider as they likely have a relationship with a CDN (if they don’t provide the service themselves) and may be able to save you some money.

Justin Blanchard

Justin Blanchard

Justin Blanchard is the CMO of ServerMania.