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How to Speed Up a Website

website load speed

How fast does your website load up when someone visits it? 

Since Google prioritizes page speed as a ranking metric, a slow-loading website can actually threaten your search engine ranking. 

Unless you’re a web development pro, optimizing the time it takes for your website to load might sound difficult. 

But thankfully, in reality, there are easy ways to improve your page load times.

In this article, we’ll provide a thorough guide on how to increase the load time of your website. 

We will also discuss what makes a website load faster, why website speed matters, and the ideal web page loading time, all backed up with statistics. 

Key website load time statistics to prove that page speed matters

How many times have you clicked on a link, waited for what felt like forever for the link to load, only to close the tab after a few seconds? 

You’re not alone – website load time statistics have proven time and time again that page speed and overall page load time can cost you money.

Did you know that: 

  1. 40% of people will leave a website if the page takes longer than 3 seconds to load
  2. 47% of users expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less
  3. Over 70% of visitors will abandon a website that has a load time longer than 5 seconds
  4. Only 30% of internet users have the patience to wait between 6-10 seconds for a page to load before they click out
  5. A 1-second delay in page response can cause a 7% drop in the overall conversation rate
  6. Almost 80% of shoppers will not return to a website if they had issues with the site’s load time
  7. After just 3 seconds, over half of mobile users will leave a page and head elsewhere
  8. 60% of mobile users in the past year reported having encountered problems when browsing different websites, leading them to abandon the page
  9. Depending on the sources, between 12% to 44% of users will share their negative load time experiences and warn others to avoid the particular website
  10. The average mobile page load time was about 15 seconds in 2018 – while the optimal load time for mobile landing pages remains under 3 seconds 
  11. Bounce rates increase over 30% when the page load time increases from 1 to 3 seconds
  12. Similarly, if the page load time increases from 1 to 5 seconds, the probability of users leaving the page increases by 90%
  13. It takes on average 10 seconds on desktop and 27 seconds on mobile for a page to fully load
  14. On average, a landing page takes almost 90% longer to load on mobile than on desktop
  15. Large pages take over 315% longer to load fully (including all visuals), compared to smaller, fully-optimized lightweight page

So not only will a slow load speed hurt your SEO and make it harder for people to find you, it can have serious implications if you’re trying to build a brand or run an eCommerce store. 

How to speed up your website

But not all is lost: there are a few quick fixes that can help you improve your average page speed. 

Zyro templates

Step 1. Pick the right template

Let’s be honest – you cannot get traffic just by having a good-looking website template. It also needs to be optimized for fast page speed.

Your best choice here is to pick a generally lightweight template. 

This basically refers to a template that doesn’t have too many different elements in its design – meaning fewer things to load.

In short:

  • Lightweight web design is efficient with its code structure. This means stripping back the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files that make up a template.
  • Each design element must contribute to the website’s aesthetic and functional value.
  • Google ranks mobile-friendly websites first, meaning that your website template needs to be mobile responsive and SEO-friendly.

Step 2. Optimize all of your images

The truth is that most websites have images complementing their content. 

And certain websites, like eCommerce stores and online portfolios, display hundreds of pictures at best.

So while it’s vital to use high-quality images, stuffing your pages with large files can seriously decrease your website’s page speed significantly.

That’s why optimizing your images is an absolute must. And by optimizing, we mean compressing the image’s file size without affecting its quality.

Safe lock against an orange background

Step 3. Keep your website secure

Would you feel comfortable browsing a website that hasn’t got that green padlock in the address bar?

Neither would we.

Securing your website means adding security features to prevent cyber-attacks – you don’t want to risk someone corrupting all of your data with malicious scripts, do you?

Most modern-day browsers check for SSL certificates and potentially malicious content before loading the page in the first place.

If your site isn’t up to industry standards, you’ll risk the page not loading at all. Talk about a bad user experience. 

A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) secures communication between your users and your server by encrypting the data transferred between them.

It verifies your website’s identification — ensuring users and search engines that you’re running an honest, reputable website.

  • An SSL is essential for all websites, particularly those that ask for users’ sensitive information, like online stores with a checkout page.
  • Installing an SSL to your website lets you use the HTTPS protocol. This enables the server-client communication encryption, resulting in the little padlock in the address bar.
  • Today, most browsers require websites to use an SSL certificate as an essential security measure.
  • Having an SSL certificate on your website makes the browser verification process easier – resulting in speed improvements and an overall faster page speed.

Step 4. Limit the use of iFrames

An iFrame — short for an inline frame — is an HTML tag. It’s used for featuring external elements from other websites on yours.

More specifically, it’s used for embedding content like YouTube videos, Google Maps, and even advertisements like banners.

  • While using iFrames can free up your storage space, the tag slows down your website’s performance, including site speed.
  • With iFrames, a browser has to load its scripts and perform additional DNS lookups to the source page.
  • Render-blocking JavaScript can also delay the browser’s response time, resulting in slow-loading pages.
  • iFrames also carry security risks that may endanger your website the overall user experience. If you embed content from a malicious website, you create weaknesses on your website for hackers to exploit.

If you’re wanting to increase your site speed and rank high in the Google search results, it’s best to reduce the number of iFrames on your website.

A 404 error link displayed on a laptop screen

Broken links lead internet users to a page or a file that is no longer available.

This event triggers a 404 error message

And the more errors Google can find on your website, the more it can harm your website’s user experience. Nobody likes error pages, do they? 

These digital dead ends, in turn, increase the bounce rate, reducing your overall traffic and conversion rate, and most importantly – hurting your SEO.

Plus, lots of broken links have a direct negative impact on the user experience and can slow down the overall page speed. 

That’s why it’s essential to regularly check your website for broken links and remove them altogether when spotted.

There are plenty of broken link checker tools like Dead Link Checker and Broken Link Check

These tools help you identify faulty links on your website so that you can either remove them or replace them with working ones.

Step 6. Optimize your content placement

When you visit a website, your browser will load any content above the fold first.  

This means that the user will only see the content that’s visible at the top of the page, and that fits their device’s screen. 

  • To load the bottom portions below the fold, you need to scroll down and reach the lower sections first.
  • By ensuring that the content within the upper part of the page is lightweight, the page will load much faster.
  • Optimizing content placement is important. Your page speed will improve, together with user experience, and your bounce rate will reduce.

This strategy is ideal for websites that use large-sized visual content. 

It allows users to see a portion of the website while the browser loads the rest of the elements.

A tray of cookies in a garden

Step 7. Use cookies and caching

If you’ve been around the internet for a while, you’ve probably come across the word ‘cache’. 

Caching refers to the practice of a browser saving temporary copies of web page files (typically static HTML content, like images and videos), making the page loading process faster. 

This makes the user experience better for returning visitors, as the landing page will load faster. 

Cookies, on the other hand, are small text files that help to identify the user and track them while they explore your site. 

This way, your users can save information like login details and even product preferences to your website.

While caching has a more direct impact on your site speed, cookies can help to boost the overall user experience and make login situations faster for the visitors. 

Pay attention to your cookie banner, though – opt for a lightweight design, or the banner alone will be slowing your site by an additional 2 seconds or more.  

Step 8. Use a content delivery network (CDN)

A CDN works on the principle that the content of your landing pages is distributed to a network of servers all around the globe.

You won’t have to rely on a single server to send your content to a user in the United States and another in the United Kingdom – instead, the US server will distribute the content to the user from the US, and so on.

Content delivery networks help to improve your page speed, as they reduce the server stress by sharing the traffic more effectively. 

Cloudflare and Google’s Cloud CDN are popular CDNs, but there are plenty of providers out there to suit different budgets and server needs. 

Long exposure showing car lights on the road

What makes a website load fast?

There are several significant contributing factors to fast site speed. They include web hosting and browser cache.

Reliable hosting service

The quality of your web hosting decides your website speed.

  • Finding the right hosting plan requires extensive research.
  • As there are many types of web hosting, you need to consider your website needs and the traffic volume you expect.
  • It’s essential to go with a reputable hosting provider with helpful support, reliable security, and enough resources for your website performance.

Browser caching

Browser caching enables a browser to store static web elements after it loads the web page for the first time.

This way, the browser can retrieve the data stored locally every time the user visits the web page. This saves it from having to submit new HTTP requests and downloading elements every time.

By enabling browser caching, you reduce page load time. You also save on resources your server uses with HTTP requests during traffic spikes.

The elements that are saved during browser caching include images, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files.

Compressing image files

When you compress images, you won’t usually crop anything out. In most cases, compression also results in no quality loss.

There are two types of image compression — lossy and lossless.

  • Lossy compression deletes some of your image’s data to decrease its size. This method may compromise the quality of an image if done excessively, so be mindful of how far you go.
  • Lossless compression discards the image’s metadata to shrink the file size. While it preserves the picture’s quality, the size won’t be as small as with lossy compression.

The lossless method means that you can restore the compressed image to its previous version, while you can’t do that with lossy compression.

It’s best to experiment with both methods to know which compression type is right for optimizing your images.

Online tools like Compressor.io or ShortPixel are great places to start. 

Both platforms give you insights about the file size, formats, and quality differences after compression.

Using the correct image file types

Believe it not, but image file types play a big role in your pictures’ quality and load time.

The most common image file types found online are PNG, JPEG, and GIF.

  • The PNG format is usually the highest in quality. It’s best for showing off graphics with small details and text — like icons, product photography on eCommerce sites, and screenshots.
  • The JPEG format is ideal for photos with lots of color data. You can use both lossy and lossless compression for this file type and not get a noticeable quality drop. Since color theory can really affect the way online shoppers make buying decisions, JPEG is your friend if you’re trying to entice site visitors with colorful graphics.
  • The GIF format is best for animations. Complex, static visual content may find this format limiting as it only supports 256 colors. Lossless compression works best for GIF files as it allows you to maintain the animation’s quality. GIFs are great for more down-to-earth marketing materials, like social media posts, blog articles, and newsletters. 

Not overusing plugins

While plugins are very useful and usually help to make the website owner’s life that little bit easier, going overboard can seriously harm your page and site speed. 

The thing is that all add-ons on your website share the same server resources. And the more plugins you have competing for their share of the power, the slower all pages take to load. 

Start by auditing all of the plugins you have installed on your website (including your mobile site). 

Next, uninstall all plugins that you’re not using and you can easily decrease your page speed and load times by five seconds or more. 

Why does website speed matter?

But why gif

Your page load time is one of the key factors to your website’s success because 70% of consumers consider website speed a key determinant of their purchase decision.

It’s safe to say that page speed directly impacts your business’s bottom line, and you shouldn’t overlook it. 

In fact, high mobile site speed has a direct and positive effect on the number of page views, conversion rates, and average order values.

The faster your website load time is, the smaller your bounce rate will be.

To put it simply, your website’s bounce rate represents visitors’ satisfaction with your web pages

Having a high bounce rate means that users click off your website after browsing your content only for a short time.

So, having a high bounce rate directly impacts your retention rate (how many people come back to your site after the first visit) and overall conversion rate (how many people make a purchase, get in touch with you, sign up for a newsletter, and so on).

Also, since Google favors fast-loading websites, slow websites are unlikely to rank high on the search result pages (SERPs). 

Meaning, in turn, that your website gets less traffic and exposure from the average visitor.

This is why it’s essential to find the time it takes to ways to speed up your website.

Drawing of a computer load screen on a blue background

How long should a website take to load?

To answer this question shortly – your site should load as fast as possible, preferably in less than 1 second. Two seconds isn’t too bad either, but you’ll start noticing the effects at three seconds.  

As a rule of thumb, the faster your page speed, the better. 

There are several ways to measure page load times:

  • Time to First Byte (TTFB) — represents the duration needed for a browser to receive the first piece of information
  • Speed index — perceives the duration for a website to fully load on a browser
  • Page size — counts the total file size that your website uses
  • The number of resources — the number of HTTP requests your website makes and the duration it takes to complete

Aiming for your site to load between two seconds and three seconds is a good benchmark to have. 

Google recommends that a website should take less than 3 seconds to load on both desktop and mobile devices. 

It’s evident from Google’s speed statistics that the moment your average page takes five seconds or more to load, the probability of a bounce increases over 100%. 

The server response time should also be less than 200 milliseconds. If yours is more than that, it’s wise to get in touch with your hosting provider and see what options you have to speed things up. 

Google’s also got an ideal page size, meaning that your content should take up less than 500 KB of space. Otherwise, you’ll be adding additional seconds to your page speed.

In reality, though, most websites are nowhere near Google’s standards.

In Google’s study, the average page speed was 4.7 seconds on desktop devices and 11.4 seconds on mobile sites. 

The average website size was a whopping 1.969 MB for desktop and 1.770 MB for mobile – considerably more than the ideal 500 KB.

While it may seem that Google’s standards are way too high, the closer you can get to the industry standards, the better your website will be received by the search engine and users alike. 

Tools to check your website speed

Internet’s full of online tools that you can use to monitor your page speed.

Google PageSpeed Insights is one of the best website optimization tools.

Powered by Google, this tool is free to use and generates a detailed report of your site speed in a matter of seconds.

All you need to do is enter your website’s URL, and the tool will run a speed test to evaluate your website’s overall speed performance.

Google PageSpeed Insights also provides recommendations on how to improve your page load time.

PageSpeed Insights, A Tool to Check Website Speed

Test My Site is another excellent website speed test platform that can help you improve the loading time of your overall website, as well we individual web pages.

This tool takes things a step further by letting you compare your page loading time with other websites. Who doesn’t love some speed statistics? 

Being able to compare your website against others helps you predict conversion rates once the speed increases.

Test My Site, a Tool to Test Website Speed

Alternatively, you can use Pingdom — another great free speed test. It calculates the total page size, HTTP requests, and load time.

Similar to Google PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom also gives suggestions on how to increase your web page performance.

Pingdom, a Tool to Test Website Speed

While these tools provide useful insights into your website performance, they’re meant to be used as guides to speed up a website instead of fixed metrics.

You’ll receive the best results by systematically testing different speed optimization techniques, and monitoring the impact they have on your overall speed statistics.

Written by

Author avatar

Martina

Martina is an expert in writing about website building and eCommerce, but her real passion is helping others grow their small business online. From solid branding to punchy marketing strategies, you can count on her for the best growth tricks. In her spare time, Martina loves nothing more than a good scoop of ice-cream and a sweaty match of tennis.

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