As I already said in another post about SEO On Page, loading speed is very important for web positioning and user experience.
We have become very impatient and do not accept waiting more than 5 seconds for the content of a page to load.
Optimizing web performance is no longer an option, but a necessity.
It actually makes a lot of sense.
After all, Google has to ensure the experience of its users.
And not only when we browse the SERPs, but also when we click on one of the results.
Therefore, it is logical that you take into account the performance of a website to determine its position in the search results.
The Importance of Speed
To give you an idea of the importance of speed, Google has recognized that the loading time of a website is a determining factor in search rankings.
According to Pingdom, 78% of the top 100 e-commerce sites take less than three seconds to load.
Additionally, a one-second delay in page load would result in a 7% reduction in conversions.
The average load time on the desktop is 1,286 seconds and 2,594 on mobile.
Optimizing the speed of your website is not a necessity, but a must, especially if you want to stay ahead of your competition.
How to Measure the Loading Speed?
Before going into the details of how to improve loading speed, it is convenient that you find out what aspects need to be improved.
To carry out a load test you can use any of the tools that you have at your disposal.
Below I will detail which ones I normally use and how they work.
A very good tool that I have been using for a long time is Gtmetrix because it combines the results of PageSpeed and YSlow.
I especially like it because it gives a lot of information about the loading process and some tips to improve the times.
You will see that the interface is very simple and the results are easy to interpret.
In addition, in the Waterfall tab, you have a graph that shows you the times object by object.
Another excellent option is Pingdom Website Speed Test.
In addition to recommendations, this tool gives you information about the number of requests, response codes, and file sizes that are downloaded from your website.
Finally, I recommend Google’s PageSpeed Insights, since it is the one used to analyze.
None will give you better clues than what the search engine has when it comes to ranking.
This tool is based on Lighthouse results and scores from 0 to 100; the higher, the better performance.
But keep in mind that this test works like a WPO ranking, so don’t worry if your website doesn’t get an excellent score.
To reach more than 95 you would have to have a highly optimized web design and invest a lot in hosting.
90 is more than enough for most websites.
How to Reduce Loading Time?
Now we go with the interesting part.
There are many factors from which we can scratch a few milliseconds of speed.
Some are easy to implement directly on your website or by installing a plugin.
Others require more technical knowledge and you will most likely need an expert.
But first of all, a clarification. In this post, I am going to focus on plugins for WordPress, although the advice is equally valid for any website.
The difference is that you will have to look for specific plugins for your CMS that perform the same function or start to touch code directly.
Basically, we can distinguish 3 types of factors on which you can act to reduce the loading time of your website:
- Images. The number, size, and resolution of the images you have on your website can slow down loading a lot. This is relatively easy to solve since you can improve speed by installing the odd plugin in your WordPress.
- Hosting. Here we talk about factors that depend on where your website is hosted. The server configuration, the distance between server and client, whether gzip compression is enabled, etc. To solve problems with your hosting, you may need the help of an expert. The first step is to contact a good web hosting with a support service that is up to the task.
- coding. The code on which your website is built also determines its performance. You cannot compare the amount of code behind a simple static website with a large e-commerce. The more features and functionality you want to add to your site, the more it will weigh. Although a priori it is the most technical aspect, you can optimize many things yourself with the help of plugins.
So here we go with the 10 tips that will make your website load like bullets. 🚀
Compress the images
The quality and size of the images are one of the factors that most influence loading time.
So that you see what I mean, I leave you a screenshot of Pingdom.
You can see that, despite being already optimized, the images account for almost 75% of the weight of my website.
Imagine if I didn’t have my images optimized: each page could be over 5MB in size.
But the truth is that having a high-resolution 5,000-pixel image is of no use to me when the page will see 1,000 pixels at most.
Choosing a size according to the visualization of each image is the first step to speeding up the loading speed.
Another Way to Gain Speed is to Compress the Images.
In addition to the dimensions, it is also convenient to reduce the resolution to reduce the weight of the images.
The first option is to install an image optimization plugin that automatically compresses your images when you upload them.
This is the most comfortable when you have to upload many images.
Although sometimes the second option is preferable: compress the images before uploading them to the web.
It takes a little more time but saves you from having to install a plugin (especially if you already have many).
For this I recommend TinyPng.
It has a good compression ratio and allows you to upload multiple images to compress at once.
Remove Unnecessary Plugins
In WordPress and other CMS, there are countless plugins for a multitude of tasks.
No doubt many of them are very useful, but others are not so much.
Keep in mind that plugins are small programs that your server has to run.
The more plugins your site has, the more work you have to do when the web loads.
To solve this problem you have to decide which plugins you really need.
If you haven’t used it for a while, it’s better to remove it from your site.
You can always reinstall it when you need it.
Pay special attention to outdated plugins because they can cause problems.
If they do not receive frequent updates, it would be better to look for a newer one that does the same functions.
It is also important to analyze the performance of installed plugins.
To find out if a plugin is not efficient, you can use the P3 ( Plugin Performance Profiler ) that shows you the impact of each one on the loading time of your site.
Delays in loading Images or Videos
I come back to the subject of images because it is one of the heaviest resources on a website.
Imagine a typical home page, with lots of images and animations that attract the visitor’s attention.
All those images have to be loaded and are usually a factor that can slow down (a lot) the loading of your site.
However, when you get to a page, there’s a lot of content that you still can’t see because it’s at the bottom.
Delaying the loading of these assets to the exact moment they appear on the user’s screen is a simple and highly effective way to reduce loading time.
This can be fixed by using a lazy load plugin, which means that only the images visible on the screen are loaded.
Manage the Cache Properly
The cache saves data from your website so that the server does not have to interpret the code every time it receives a request from the user.
In addition to the server cache, the browser has its own cache so that it does not have to send requests to the server every time the website is accessed.
Proper cache management greatly speeds up load times by temporarily storing pages with static content.
Hire a Good Web Hosting
Many times we choose a hosting based on its price only.
This is one of the worst decisions you can make.
At first, you will think that the cheapest option is enough, but once your website starts receiving more traffic, the server will stop responding and the experience of your users will worsen.
Hire a hosting that has the resources that your website needs, but that allows you to expand them as you grow.
Apart from the price, it is important that you take into account the bandwidth of the connection, as well as the speed with which the server responds to traffic spikes.
Make sure that you are guaranteed at least 99% uptime (the time the server is active).
You should also look at their technical support.
Many hosting companies offer fast servers at a good price, but back off when there are technical problems.
And if your website is not accessible, you will not only lose sales opportunities, but also reputation and positioning.
Enable Asynchronous Upload
When visiting a website, the browser has to download a large number of files: HTML, CSS, JS, and images…
When these files are downloaded one by one (known as synchronous loading), the loading speed becomes very slow.
A graphical way to see it is through the waterfall graph (for example, in Gtmetrix).
Some files, especially CSS and JS, can be downloaded simultaneously (asynchronous loading) and save a lot of time.
Asynchronous uploading is a fairly simple and effective WPO technique, although sometimes dependencies between these files can prevent it.
Reduce the Code of Your Website
As I told you before, websites are made with code.
Even if you use a CMS like WordPress, all that is behind it is code.
The more elaborate your site, the more complex the coding.
And the more code, the more work the server has to do to load the web.
One way to avoid this is to remove whatever is irrelevant or unnecessary.
Many times when we choose a theme for our site, we want it to be very beautiful with lots of animations and stunning visual effects.
But some of the features that are included are not going to be used.
So there are many parts of the web code that are not needed and could be removed to lighten the weight a lot.
You can use plugins that minify and unify your site’s CSS and JS files so they’re smaller and load a bit faster, but don’t remove the parts of the code you don’t use.
To do this, it is best to do without unnecessary plugins and, ultimately, choose a lighter or optimized template.
Web designers use a structure in the code that is easier to understand, with white spaces, line breaks, and comments.
But computers and servers don’t interpret that part, so we can greatly simplify the CSS and JS files to reduce their size.
This is known as minify (or minify) and can improve loading speed.
Minifying the code by hand is a very difficult task.
Luckily, there are plugins that do it automatically.
W3 Total Cache is a very complete plugin that allows you to manage various aspects, including file minification.
But if you want a simple plugin so you don’t get lost with so much adjustment, I recommend Autoptimize.
These plugins, in addition to compressing the code, tend to unite all the files of the same type into one to reduce the number of requests and downloads.
However, you have to keep in mind that minification is a complicated process that is not always going to work.
The problem is that when there are dependencies between the files, the process can fail and cause your site to not display correctly.
This happens on complex themes or on websites with many plugins installed (since each plugin can load multiple CSS or JS files).
Avoid Excessive Redirects
Redirects are typically used to take your users from a page that no longer exists to another.
A very typical case is 301 redirects, which are done when the URL of a page is changed.
These types of redirects are necessary to avoid 404 errors and SEO penalties.
The problem is that when a redirect occurs, the browser has to jump from one URL to another, and that can slow down the load.
In most cases, the process is so fast that we don’t even realize it.
But the more redirects you have to manage, the longer it will take to load the page.
That is why it is not convenient to use too many redirects, since you are doubling the loading time of your website.
Sometimes even a plugin can fail and cause a redirect loop, eventually blocking access to your website.
In that case, check the settings to avoid problems.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
When your website receives visitors from all over the world, loading speed becomes a serious problem.
While the users closest to your server will receive the content right away, those further away will have to wait longer.
This can be easily fixed with a content delivery network or CDN.
A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a network of servers distributed by different geographical locations to serve the content of your website to visitors from different parts of the world.
It is like having several copies of your website in different parts of the world.
Depending on the location of the users, the content is sent from the nearest node and not from your main server, thus greatly reducing the waiting time.
The speed with which your website loads determines not only your positioning but also the experience of your users.
But it is important that you keep in mind that in terms of web performance perfection is unattainable.
My recommendation is that you perform several tests and compare the results with various tools.
That will let you know if something is failing and can be optimized.
But above all, don’t be obsessed with reducing the loading time at all costs.
Sometimes we want our website to load so fast that we minimize the importance of the features and functionality that offer a good user experience to visitors.
And that is what really matters.
Now you know the key factors that influence the loading speed of your website.
So you have no excuse to get down to work and improve it.
And as always, if you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments. 🙂
Thanks for Reading.