Posted February 28 by Niranjan Reddy
Feb 28 by Niranjan Reddy

Top Tips for Web Page Speed Optimization

Top Tips for Web Page Speed Optimization Top Tips for Web Page Speed Optimization

In today's fast-paced world, speed is what matters most. People have little time to spend in a single place, whether it is a geographical location or a website. And in the digital world, speed is of utmost importance. You may have the best-designed website with very good looks but if it takes a long time to load, it may put off the visitors to your site thus impacting traffic on it. A visitor to your site gets the first information and impression about your business through your website. And it usually is their first contact with you also. You may not get a second chance with your visitor if their user experience on your site is not good. So, it is imperative that your website loads fast and doesn't frustrate the visitor who may be your prospective client. Website speed hugely impacts return visits by visitors, their engagement with you, conversion rates, and search rankings. Therefore, reducing the page loading time has a highly positive effect on marketing and sales activities.

Fast-loading pages attract more traffic and qualified leads that can be converted to customers. There are multiple reasons why web pages load slowly. There can be a long list of factors impacting site speed. You need to identify which factors are affecting the speed of your website resulting in web pages loading slowly. In this article, we will give you different tips to boost the speed of your website. But before that, let us understand what is page load time. It is a measurement of the performance of a website that shows how much time a page takes to show on the screen of the user. And this time greatly impacts the three factors which are essential for the success of your website. These three factors are Conversion, Visibility, and Usability. So, it is time you had a good look at your website speed and the time taken by your web pages to load and took steps to improve them. Here are a few top tips for reducing the loading time and improving the speed of your web pages.

Tips to optimize webpage speed

As said earlier, there are a lot of factors that affect the speed of your website. But then, there are so many ways of improving this speed also. Let us have a look at some of the top ways in which you can improve the speed of your website.

Using Content Delivery Network (CDN):

Content Delivery Network is a group of web servers spread across various geographical locations from where the end users are delivered the content related to their location. If your website is hosted on a single server, all the requests of the end users will go to that server only. And when all the data needed to load your website is stored in one place, it takes more time to process these end users' requests thus increasing the time needed to load your website. Moreover, with continuing rapid growth in internet traffic, there is more load on the service providers. So, this problem is only increasing. Here, the Content Delivery Networks can come to your rescue. CDNs store various replicas of your content on multiple servers. When someone visits your website, the CDN uses the server nearest to the geographical location of the visitor to deliver the content desired by the visitor. This results in your web page loading faster and the visitor getting a good user experience. Choosing a CDN is a very impactful way of optimizing the speed of your web pages.

Optimize image sizes on your website:

Most website performance experts strongly suggest that optimizing the sizes of images should be one of the prime areas of focus if you want to optimize web page speed. Images not only make your website attractive but also help in engaging the visitors to your site. And for some websites like e-commerce sites, images are an inseparable and vital part of the site. Customers tend to spend more time on websites with eye-catching images. But it has a flip side too. If you are using high-resolution images or they are not compressed, they will make your website slower to load. Check if you are using images with 2x or 3x resolution. These display well on high-density screens but if your visitors are not using high-density displays, then you are just increasing the time of loading the images and more so if their mobile data connections are slow. So, ensure that you are using the right resolution for your images.Once you have ensured the right resolution for your images, it's time to compress them. Compressing your images will reduce their weight and save precious time. Care has to be taken to compress them without compromising on their quality. There are many photo-editing tools available for optimizing the image size and some of them are free to use for compressing the commonly used image types like JPG, PNG, etc. Another way in which you can optimize the size of images is by using the HTML Responsive images and characteristics. They modify the image size on the basis of the user display properties.

Restrict the number of Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) requests:

This is another good way of reducing your page load time. The web browser uses HTTP requests to take out different parts of your web page like text, images, sheets, etc. from a web server. Every HTTP request would take some time before a connection is established between the web browser and the server that may be located remotely. So, each HTTP request adds to the total loading time of your website. Besides, generally, there is a limit to how many parallel networks requests a web browser can take up, so if too many requests stack up and the queue becomes very long, there is a possibility that some of them will be blocked. And you can't avoid these ques because as your website keeps growing, more and more requests start queuing up. Then, a time gap can be clearly noticed between the user click-throughs and the actual loading of the page. So, the solution is to limit the number of HTTP requests. The first step to this is to just remove the requests that are not necessary. Then remove any unnecessary images or files. And then you can compress your CSS and JavaScript files. Using a CDN, as discussed earlier, can also help in restricting the number of HTTP requests.

Assess your present website hosting provider:

One of the reasons for the slow speed of your website could be your hosting provider. There can be many factors linked to your website hosting provider that could be affecting the speed of your website. These may include its geographical location and its infrastructure. The overall bandwidth available with your hosting provider also plays a role in your website's speed. So, you must evaluate your hosting provider for these things. Another important factor affecting your website's speed is the type of hosting you are using. There are generally three types of website hosting namely Shared, VPS, and Dedicated hosting. Let us have a look at each

Shared hosting: It is the most commonly used and cost-effective type of hosting. Among the three hosting options, shared hosting comes at the lowest cost and you can get your website up and running in a very short time. The flip side is that in shared hosting, the hosting provider divides its hosting resources between many websites which effectively lowers the performance of the site. This problem becomes acute if your website receives consistently high traffic or there is a sudden spurt in the activity on your site.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting: A VPS server is much faster than a shared server because here content is distributed using multiple servers. In effect, they split services on a shared physical drive. The difference is that if you host your website on VPS, you are provided with a virtual server of your own so that your configurations do not affect other customers of the hosting provider. However, speed issues may persist to some extent even in VPS hosting.

Dedicated server: The costliest among the three types of website hosting, a dedicated server means you have a physical server of your own. But here, you have to pay some rent and then keep an administrator to maintain it. But the good thing is that it will considerably improve the speed of your website irrespective of the amount of load on it.

So, choose your website hosting provider and hosting type wisely.

Reduce plug-ins: Plugins are common elements of every website and are those parts of functionalities that can be reused. These are generally used in pre-built website platforms or Content Management Systems (CMS). With plugins, you can add more functionalities to your website like analytics or blog posts. Plugins are used when certain additional features are required based on suggestions by a third party. But the more plugins you add, the more resources you need to run your website. There will be more load in the form of additional CSS or JavaScript files. And this impacts the speed of your website. With the growth of your website, the number of plugins will also increase. But all of them may not be necessarily in use. So, it would be better if you regularly look at your plugins and remove those that are no more in use. This will certainly help in improving the speed of your page.

Make use of website caching: If multiple users are trying to access your page simultaneously, it affects the server speed and they get slowed down. So, they take more time to display your page to each user. Caching is a process by which one copy of your files is stored in a temporary location and this version is presented to the users till the time your website is updated. This temporary location is called the cache. With caching, some of your content may be pre-loaded so that your page loads faster. Any web page that has been cached won't need to send database requests every time. Using caching provides many benefits. Your bandwidth consumption becomes less and latency is reduced. How caching is done depends on which platform your website has been developed on. If you are running your website on VPS or a Dedicated server, then you can use your general settings to set up caching. However, caching is not generally available with shared servers.

Reduce the number of CSS and JavaScript files: These are the largest files on any website. And if there are large numbers of CSS and JavaScript files on your website, it will amount to a large number of HTTP requests, particularly when users want to access some specific files. Every CSS and JavaScript file will come with a separate HTTP request. And we have already seen that if there are more HTTP requests they slow down the website. So, reducing the number of CSS and JavaScript files on your website will lead to reduced HTTP requests thus positively impacting the speed of your website. This can be done by combining CSS files and JavaScript files into bundles meaning making separate groups of CSS and JavaScript files. This will result in the reduction of HTTP requests. You can use any of the multiple tools available to quickly shorten the CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files. Tools like Script Minifier and Grunt tools can be used to minify your files CSS and JavaScript files and improve the overall speed of your website.

Finding out 404 errors: A "404" error occurs when the page a user is trying to access is not found. It may be because you have removed or deleted it. Hosting sends this message to browsers or search engines when the page being sought or searched does not exist. But this gives a highly negative user experience and may even result in the user never returning to your website. In other words, you might be losing a potential customer due to a "404" error. So, it is imperative that you keep a track of this error and detect and correct it at the earliest. There are error detection tools that you can use to detect this error. After detecting the "404" error, you must evaluate the traffic generated by it. If there is no traffic on these links and no resource is being consumed by them, then you may leave them alone. But if there is some traffic on these links then it would be better to use redirects for external links and correct the addresses of internal links.

Think of using prefetching techniques: In prefetching, instructions are read and executed before being initiated by the user and it is a commonly used technique. The success of these techniques depends on how well you anticipate the actions of the users and load some content beforehand. These days, in most browsers these days, prefetching is allowed by default as they are able to presume the behavior patterns of the users. You can use different prefetching and preloading techniques through which you can provide signals to the browser about the resources that would be required for displaying the page before the actual need for such resources arises. There are three major types of prefetching techniques that are more commonly used. They are:

DNS Prefetching: Here, the browser can be signaled in advance about the specific domain names that would be required to be resolved to an IP address before resources from that domain name are actually seen by the browser. Though it may not look like a big optimization it makes a big difference when you have tried all other techniques and are not left with any other option.

Link prefetching: You can use link prefetching when you are sure that a user will click on a particular link to access a specific page. This type of prefetching technique is more beneficial for stable actions during the user journey like adding items to the cart after choosing several items.

Prerendering: As the name suggests, in this technique, an entire page or some parts of it are rendered in advance. This technique is more useful when you are sure which specific page the user will go to as a next step. The browser can then be directed to pretender the entire page as well as download the entire resource by spelling out the URL.

The use of prefetching techniques is a good way of improving the loading time of your page.

As we had said at the outset, the visitors to your website would expect your pages to load as fast as possible as they won't like to wait and failure to meet the expectations of the users will not only result in the loss of visitors to your site but also the loss of potential customers. On the other hand, the more quickly your website pages load, the lesser your bounce rate, and your conversion rates become higher. Using any or many of the above tips described above would certainly improve the performance of your website. Though the improvement may not happen overnight it will at least kickstart the process and you will see incremental improvement. There are so many devices in use, types of connectivities, browsers, and operating systems which makes enhancing the speed of web pages a challenging task. But working on improving the speed of your website will certainly go a long way in successfully and quickly reaching your customers and boosting your business.

Niranjan Reddy
Niranjan Reddy leads Hermitcrabs, Inc, an B2B Tech Inbound Marketing agency and eCommerce Agency, Google Certified & HubSpot partner. Who specialize in helping some of the world's largest B2B enterprise tech, tech Start-ups, professional service, and pharmaceutical companies increase and nurture their sales and marketing pipelines. Hermitcrabs, core services include inbound marketing, sales enablement, account-based marketing, modern lead generation digital strategies and web development in HubSpot COS, Wordpress, Magento, and Shopify.