How your site ranks in search engines such as Google is difficult to predict. Different trends, technology and user-behaviour (such as the rise in mobile) all affect your SEO ranking and keeping on top of it can seem like a full-time job.
However, one thing that doesn’t change is the importance of your site load speed, particularly since browsing on mobile means flaky internet coverage and slower connections.
There’s overwhelming evidence to suggest that even a seemingly small improvement in load time can have a huge impact on conversion rates.
Be sure to check out this PowerPoint which emphasises the value of load speed.
“[For Amazon] Every 100ms delay costs 1% of sales”
Now that might be specific for Amazon, who shift unholy amounts of product each day, but it’s still pertinent to all businesses, particularly ecommerce sites.
We’ve highlighted a few ways below in which you could shave way more than just 100ms off your site load time.
1. Reduce Image Sizes
We find this to be the biggest consumer of load time for most sites. We include ourselves in this – we use a lot of images on our site so it’s crucial that they don’t take too long to load. Otherwise our bounce rate would be through the roof, and rightly so.
The images below are essentially the same image, except one is about a fifth of the size of the other. The point is there’s no visible difference in quality, but a huge difference in load time.
There are a few ways of reducing your site’s image sizes:
– Our recommended method is the “Save for Web” function on Photoshop, if you have access to the software.
– Alternatively you can use a free web tool like Image Optimizer http://www.imageoptimizer.net/Pages/Home.aspx
– Make sure your images are the right size; there’s no point loading a 4000x2000px pixel image if the max size it needs to be is 1000px.
– Failing these methods use a plugin – but as you’ll read later, this isn’t ideal.
2. Enable Browser Caching
Ok so now you’re probably thinking “What the f*ck is browser caching?”
When you visit a site, certain parts of that site are temporarily stored on your hard drive (browser cache). That way when you revisit the site you don’t have to download these parts again. This is pretty much browser caching.
Ok great, so how do we enable this?
This is a little trickier than the first method, but ultimately you’re just editing a text file and saving it.
1. Log into your Control Panel for whomever hosts your website (e.g. GoDaddy, Bluehost, Vidahost etc.).
2. Go to your site’s File Manager
3. Open up the “.htacess” and paste in the following code:
## EXPIRES CACHING ##
ExpiresByType image/jpg “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/png “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType text/css “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType text/html “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/pdf “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access 1 year”
ExpiresDefault “access 1 month”
## EXPIRES CACHING ##
If this seems like a bit too much, just drop us a message, we’re more than happy to walk you through the process.
3. Reduce Number of Plugins
This one is mostly applicable for WordPress sites. Many new clients who come to us have existing sites that use out-of-date plugins. More often than not, many of the plugins are unnecessary and can be removed.
By logging into WordPress and clicking on “Plugins” you’ll get a list of the installed plugins. If there are any you know you don’t need or use, simply deactivate or delete them. If you’re unsure, at least update the plugin.
There are lots of other ways to reduce your site load time, such as reducing http requests and compressing your files. However, these are methods that really require a bit more effort to achieve.
In the meantime, check your site load speed with a tool like GTMetrix for a full analysis before and after you do the above steps. You’ll be amazed at the results.
And if there’s anything you’re unsure about just drop us a line, we’re always happy to help.