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Speed Matters: Why and How to Boost Your Website Speed

Remember the good old dialup days? You’d type in your URL and wait. And wait. And wait. Today’s internet users expert sites to load in just two seconds or less. If a site doesn’t load within three seconds, most abandon it and move on to faster competitors. The bottom line is that search engines care about speed; searchers care about speed; and you should care about speed!

Google uses speed as one of its many ranking factors; this means that streamlined speeds lead to better rankings. But beyond that, they lead to better user experience, which in turn, results in higher conversion rate. Wins all around. How can you enjoy these victories for your business or brand?

How Fast Are You?

First, find out how quickly your website loads. You can do this with PageSpeed Tools or another online service. The benefit of Google’s tester is that it gives you a score and identifies areas in which you can improve.

Some other areas you want to address to increase speed:

Minify CSS or JavaScript: Minification is reducing the size of files by consolidating and removing unnecessary or redundant data. While you can minify manually, it is easy to make errors that change or impact the functionality of your code; it’s best to have a developer’s help or to instill plugins that minify your CSS and JavaScript for you.

User Browser Caching: When a user clicks onto a webpage, the browser has to contact the server and load all of the relevant files to ensure the site loads and functions properly. This takes time. Leveraging browser caching allows necessary elements to be stored on the viewer’s hard drive, which increases speed. Your logo, CSS files, images and other items that largely remain static can be stored so the browser and server don’t have to go through a lengthy back-and-forth to get the right elements to load. Upon subsequent visits, pages will load much faster, resulting in more satisfied visitors.

Optimise your visual content. More and more, web users are interested in visual content, from images to videos to infographics. But while they’re great for attracting and engaging traffic, they’re not so hot for your page speeds. It is important that you optimise them; again, you can turn to image optimisation plugins to reformat and compress these important but time-hogging elements.

Compress. Large files are slow; it’s a fact of internet life. But you can compress them; Gzip compression can save up to 50 to 70 per cent of file size, greatly reducing bandwidth and speed. The instructions for enabling compression is different for each server, so check with yours to see how to get this feature working for you. You can find common ways to enable compression here.

Even a one second delay in page loading times can result in 11 per cent fewer page views; a 16 per cent reduction in customer satisfaction; and a 7 per cent loss in conversations. You cannot afford to be slow. Use these tips, and others, to increase your speed.

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