You’ve heard it time and time again; your website is one of the most important parts of your growing business. Your digital presence makes an enormous impact on whether or not someone is going to trust your products or services versus a competitor’s. If your website tells your business’ story well and provides an excellent customer experience with everything your visitors need and relevant content, you are on the right path. But before you give yourself the full pat on the back, did you think about the speed of your website? We aren’t talking about internet speed here, what we are talking about is the load time of your website. The load time of your website falls into your hands as Google now ranks your website based on the speed of your site. This is one very important and hot topic that is setting many business owners aside from their competitors.
2016 has become the year of speed. Patience isn’t so golden anymore, at least not in the digital world. Nowadays desktop users expect a site to load within a second or two. Mobile users are a little more patient, for now, but that can easily change very soon. If your website takes more than 2 seconds to load many things can happen in that time, the user can get frustrated, get bored and leave your site, or will start searching a different website while yours loads. You don’t want this to happen to you. Even if the user searches another site, waiting for yours to load, do you really think they are going to come back to yours? Most likely not, and if they do, your competitor has already gotten in their head to influence them. And now, Google doesn’t like this either and won’t rank your website too well. According to them, “a 2-second delay in load time during a transaction resulted in abandonment rates of up to 87%. This is significantly higher than the baseline abandonment rate of 67%.”
So how do you test your website’s speed and discover if you need to improve it? Google’s PageSpeed Tools can help you figure this out in just a few seconds. It will identify the areas you need to improve on, whether on desktop or mobile and will guide you on how you can fix it. It is a good idea to have this page bookmarked so you can check your website’s speed every time you make changes or updates.
To get you started on speeding up your website’s load time here are just a few basic best practices you should be following:
Remember to optimize every image
This is one of the most important changes you can make to improve download speeds. Optimize in the digital world means to ‘save for the web’ or to reduce the sizes of your images without losing any resolution. You should always save photographs as JPGs and images with large blocks of flat color as GIFs.
Use external CCS to load background images
Your images on your site are important because they tell the visual story of your business. But the content on your website is more important. So by presenting your images as part of the background using external CSS stylesheets will help the text on your site load faster allowing for your customers to start reading your content while waiting for your images to load. This will keep them engaged and on your website longer. You can easily add this technique to your site by adding the ‘link’ to the Head Section, i.e. anywhere between the <head> and the </head>, add this code: <link [KV2] rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/CSS” href=”your-CSS.CSS”>. If you have a web developer, just give them this script and they will know what it means.
Lessen white space, line returns, and comment tags
In HTML code every single letter or space takes up one byte. If you have many line returns or white spaces and comment tags, those could easily add up to many unnecessary bytes. By making these changes, you could cut about 10% of your file size, speeding up your load time.
Refrain from using unnecessary META tags and META content
The only tags you need on each of your pages are for search engine optimization. Refrain from going overboard and filling up on lengthy META tags and META content. This won’t help your SEO and will increase the size of your pages. Try to keep the content for each of your tags under 200 characters.
With speed now playing a major factor in Google’s ranking of your website, always remember patience in the digital world went out the window a long time ago. As a business owner you know that time is money, so when building or updating your business website, remember the time it takes for your site to load could mean money. The three top factors to always keep in mind when building a successful website is content, relevance and now speed.