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Today’s average website visitor is about as patient as a ravenous hyena waiting for a baby wildebeest down by the watering hole. In other words, not very.
While there are plenty of statistics to throw around regarding this hardly startling lack of tolerance, one stands out.
Nearly half of your visitors will flat out leave if your website doesn’t load in less than four seconds. That number is huge, and you should take it to heart.
You’ve got to turn your website into a speed-loading machine at any cost. Well, maybe not ANY cost, but it’s pretty important.
Ultimately, everything comes down to Google, specifically whether or not the search engine likes what it sees when spiders are sent to crawl your website. Since 2010, Google has said speed matters to its vaunted algorithm (it’s one factor of many) when it comes to search ranking, so it should matter to you too.
5 Proven Ways to Increase Site Speed that Still Work in 2021
Studies have shown time after time that the odds are good you probably do have a slow loading website because, according to Google, the average mobile (important because more people use mobile devices more than desktops now) landing page loads in about 22 seconds...and 40% of people leave if it takes longer than three seconds.
See the problem? But rather than guess and fret about it, get yourself over to Pingdom and see how your page times out. After the test is complete, scroll down for the results.
Maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised and can stop reading right now. The rest of you, likely the majority, might feel a sense of pending doom descending. Don’t be so grim. There are several proven and not that difficult ways to get site speeds up that have been around for years and still work great.
Feeling better? Good. Let’s get to it.
#1. Optimize Images First, Then Upload
The recommendation to optimize images is not unique.
The reason it often yields unsatisfying results is that too many website owners go about it the wrong way.
Let’s say you have a 1,000 x 1,000 pixel image.
You know that it’s too big and will eat bandwidth like the cookie monster on a weekend binge.
Instead use your WordPress image feature or CSS to cut that thing down to size, maybe 100 x 100 pixels.
Even though the image might render at the smaller size, you’ve already uploaded it at the large size and any browser that attempts to access your website must download the entire monstrously large version and then display it to the visitor in a smaller version. The right way is to reduce resolution before letting it anywhere near your website.
In this case, increasing the upload limit on WordPress won't help you a lot.
Related Read: Best WordPress Hosting
#2. Browser Caching is a No-Brainer
Do you hate your visitors so much that you force them to repetitively download the same elements each time they visit your website? If you don’t have browser caching enabled on the server, it sure might seem that way.
With caching on (call your web host tech support line to find out how) the server turned on, all the things that don’t change on most websites will be stored in the browser’s temporary memory and display almost instantly on subsequent visits, giving visitors something to look at while dynamic content is loaded.
#3. Choose Your Platform Wisely
A website is a website except when it’s poorly constructed. We’re going to go out on a limb here and recommend you consider how to create a website properly from the beginning using the most massively popular content management system (CMS) in the galaxy, WordPress.
Contrary to some conventional wisdom, WordPress does not yield an inherently slow product. In truth, these sites can be real speed demons when the owner tends to some basic guidelines.
There are 21 ways to speed up WordPress and if you follow all of them your website will have no speed related issues.
#4. Zip It Up, ALL the Way Up
You’ve already optimized images and now we’re asking you to compress your entire website into one nice, neat little bundle that will zip across the line between server and browser?
How much difference can that make? Check out this quick read on how the Gzip file format can reduce your website’s overall size by as much 50-90%! This is another server setting so get those guys or gals from your hosting tech support department on the line again.
Bet you never thought you could use an old print newspaper trick to make your site load faster. The phrase to know is “below the fold.”
When you take a look at the daily fish wrap whilst waiting in line at the grocery store checkout counter, what do you see?
The most important news is visible at a glance, with the lesser events out of sight where the paper is folded in half.
As internet users demand ever richer and more interactive online experiences, the associated file sizes will only increase while attention span continues to decrease.
A page that took six seconds to load would lose 40% of visitors in 2010. Today that number has swelled to 50%. Yep, we’re getting less patient as a species.
When considering the preceding, a website owner’s battle to keep page loading time from affecting traffic negatively will never be complete.
The good news is that time-tested and not terribly difficult solutions continue to be the best way for an online entrepreneur to make sure a slow website experience doesn’t have potential customers clicking away (and over to a competitor) out of boredom.