Getting your website to load blazingly fast has never been more important.
With each progressive algorithm update, Google is prioritizing high quality content and stellar user experiences.
Website loading speed is a crucial part of offering that stellar user experience. In fact, the average user backs out of a website if it takes longer than just 3 seconds to load.
If you’re still making keywords the main priority of your website’s SEO strategy, you’re in for a rude awakening over the next 1-2 years.
Let’s try to avoid that, shall we?
1) Compress images
This is the easiest and simplest way to speed up your website’s loading speed.
You know all of those fancy, beautiful free stock photos that you love to add to your site? They’re massive.
If you’re downloading those photos and then turning around and uploading them to your site as-is, you’re making a huge mistake.
There are a number of ways your can compress and optimize your images, but here’s the simple method I use:
Using Photoshop to reduce the size of images
1. Open your super cool stock photo with Photoshop
I mean, come on. That is objectively cool right?
2. Go to Image > Image Size
Depending on the version of Photoshop you are using, this might look a bit different. I am subscribed to the Creative Cloud version of Photoshop for $10/month, so it is constantly updated for free.
3. Reduce the width and height of the image
This is important. Many of the images you download or purchase will be much bigger than they need to be. Like, 4000px too big. All you have to do reduce the number for both the width and height.
Generally speaking, you should never really need to have an image that is larger than 1920px width. Set it to that, then click Save.
4. Go to File > Export > Save for Web
Again, the flow of this might be a bit different fro your version of Photoshop. But it should be in the same general area.
5. Choose your image compression options
Now, choose your options.
The majority of your pics can be saved in the JPEG LOW format. If you need to have a transparent background, then make sure to select PNG-8.
Quality is set on a scale of 1-100. I usually never go above 5-10. You’ll notice that 90% of the quality is preserved anyway. And it’s worth losing that 10% for the drastic savings in file size.
Then, click Save.
6. Name your new image and click Save
Keep it simple and relevant so it will be easy to search for later.
7. Bask in the glory of your results!
Do you see that??
The original image clocks in at a whopping 9.23MB.
The new, compressed and totally optimized version? 50.6KB!
THAT my friend, is how it’s done.
Like I said, compressing your images is the #1 way to quickly speed up the performance of your website. The subscription version of Photoshop is available for just $10/month.
You could even subscribe to it, build your website, then cancel it once you’re all done.
If you’re too cheap for that, there’s not much else I can do for you.
2) Remove video backgrounds
I know, this one is hard to hear.
Video backgrounds are cool and trendy.
But, if you don’t do them right, they can absolutely destroy your website’s loading speeds.
And if you’re here reading this, I can assure you that you don’t know enough about web design to implement video backgrounds in your site properly. (the truth hurts sometimes)
Kill the video and put a high quality image with a super compelling headline instead. Your loading speeds will instantly improve. I guarantee it.
3) Remove all popups
Popups are bad. For everyone.
They’re tacky. Your visitors hate them. They convert poorly. And they slow down your website.
Even Google hates them now. So get rid of them.
If you can’t get people to subscribe to your newsletter without throwing it in their face and tricking them with a “Super-Duper Amazing Checklist eBook Guide that you can only get if you subscribe!“, then you need to work on your writing skills.
Make great stuff. People will want to read and watch. It’s that simple.
4) Get rid of all ads
If you’re trying to monetize your website with ads, it’s time to stop. Like, yesterday.
Ads are annoying to your visitors, they pay extremely little, and they add a bunch of unnecessary code to your site that can kill your performance.
Instead, monetize your website with things that will actually make you money. Nothing pays better than selling products or services that you actually make.
Or, at the very least, make money by recommending great products that other people make. (it’s called affiliate marketing, and it’s super popular)
5) Delete unnecessary plugins
WordPress is the most popular web design platform in the world for good reason. One of those being the thousands of plugins that are available to fully customize your website to your desire.
The problem is… most of them suck.
Worse still, it can be really hard to tell. Many plugins do exactly what they advertise on the surface but, behind the scenes, they’re resource-sucking monstrosities.
Thousands of 5-star reviewed plugins could be secretly sabotaging your website’s loading speeds…
The answer here is to only install plugins that are absolutely essential to your website’s experience. Everything else is digital fluff and should be expelled with reckless abandon.
To find out which plugins are slowing down your website, you have to go through a painstaking process of deleting each of them one by one, then retesting to see if it has made any impact on your site’s performance.
And this doesn’t just apply to WordPress, by the way. Most major web design platforms offer plugins of some kind. Including Shopify and Weebly.
6) Use caching
Caching is a method of storing certain parts of your website on your visitors’ computers, thereby sharing the workload with the website’s servers. This dramatically improves loading speeds when your visitors return to your site.
For example, instead of loading the main header image from scratch every single time, caching allows you to load that image the first time your visitor lands on your site, but then store it on their computer in the process. The next time this visitor comes to your website, their computer will load the image locally, rather than directly from your website’s server again.
Needless to say, this is one of the most critical components of website performance.
7) Incorporate lazy loading
Lazy loading is exactly what it sounds like.
Rather than load an entire web page’s content as soon as a visitor lands on the page, it will only load what they need to see on their screen right away. Then, as the visitor scrolls down, it will load the rest of the content.
This is particularly useful for pages with lots of images and videos, which can take up a lot of your website’s resources.
Depending on what platform you’ve used to build your website, this feature may or may not be readily available. With something like Weebly, for example, you’ll probably need to hire a professional coder.
8) Choose a simpler theme
The majority of the web is built off themes these days. The quality and performance of website themes have improved so dramatically that it rarely makes sense to code a website from scratch.
That said, there are still quite a few duds out there. Over the years, many themes have attempted to incorporate every feature under the sun. As a result, they often look pretty but perform poorly.
Avoid these bloated theme like the plague. Keep it simple.
You want something that is going to make your visitors’ experience fantastic. A great theme ensures that the content of the site is the focus. As a visitor, you shouldn’t even notice what theme is being used.
If you’ve got one of these bloated themes, scrap it for something simpler.
9) Get a better web hosting company
Your web hosting is only $3/month? That’s great.
But remember this: you get what you pay for.
The web hosting industry is extremely competitive. Massive companies constantly try to undercut each other on price, while essentially ignoring the quality of their service.
It’s also chock full of crappy affiliate marketers. Companies like Bluehost pay you as much as $130 for every customer you send their way. As a result, everyone recommends Bluehost. (I’ve even done it in the past)
Bluehost isn’t a bad service. But it’s not great either. And if you’re really trying to improve your website’s Google rankings, performance and loading speeds are extremely important. And you’re not gonna find that at $3/month.
I host all of my clients’ websites on a dedicated high-performance server for exactly this reason. (and no, I don’t charge $3/month)
How to test your website’s loading speed
There are many free online speed and performance testers. My personal favorite is GTMetrix.
Because the results can vary widely depending on which tool you use to test your site, it’s important to always be consistent. Use the same tool to test both before and after you make the changes to your site.
Here’s a few more to try out if GTMetrix is too daunting for you:
Pretty simple, right?
Simple enough that you now have no excuses to get to work on improving your website’s loading speeds.
Let me know how much time you shaved off your loading speed in the comments below!