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How to Optimise Your Website Speed
Website optimisation: not just about making your site look flashier.
Optimising your website can be anything from boosting speed, reliability, functionality, security, or just getting rid of roadblocks people may experience when using your site. Done right, this is a simple and incredibly effective way to help you reach your business goals.
Patience with load times and internet browsing is at an all time low, with 40% of internet users saying they’ll ditch your site if it takes more than five seconds to load. That’s how long you get to grip people: five whole seconds.
While some more complex bits of tech wizardry are best left to a developer, anyone with a website can benefit from a few basics. Here are some vital FAQs that’ll help you make your site fast and easy to use.
Q: Is web optimisation different to SEO?
In a word? Yes.
In more words? SEO (search engine optimisation) focuses on lifting the search engine ranking of your website, letting people find it more easily. Website optimisation is more about what happens for users once they’re on your site.
That said, the two do play off each other quite a bit. By improving site performance, you’re boosting user experience and increasing the amount of time users spend on your site. Search engines love this sort of thing, so if you want to lift your Google rankings, it’s worth knowing how to optimise website speed.
Q: What’s the number one thing I can do to improve the overall performance and efficiency of my website?
The first step should always be setting your site up with a fast and reliable hosting service. Never thought about it? Finding your current system a little sluggish? Here’s some good news: with a bit of developer help, you can fairly easily migrate your site to a new hosting platform/server.
To find a good hosting service, start by looking at reviews to find out how reputable different companies are. If you’re more technically minded, you can look into the specs and see exactly what you’re getting.
Hosting is a long-term investment, so you’ll be getting what you pay for if you go for a cheaper option. A service that costs a bit more will probably end up giving your users a much better experience – and that’s far better for your business in the long run.
Q: How optimised is my website? Are there any quick checks I can do to find out?
For a simpler site where most or all of the pages are linked, you can simply click through each page and ensure everything is working the way you want it to. This should be done regularly – think weekly or monthly. This also goes for the mobile version of your site.
Test out your contact forms to make sure everything is going to the right email addresses, and have a look around the backend of your website – although most content management systems (i.e. WordPress) are pretty good at giving you a heads up if something goes awry.
Q: What can I do to fix speed issues?
Regular maintenance is key here. That might mean getting a developer on board, especially if you don’t get auto updates on your page speed.
As we’ve mentioned, the average web user in 2021 has a serious lack of patience when it comes to load time: even if you have the best marketing in the business driving the masses to your site, if that site doesn’t deliver the goods in under five seconds, a ton of potential customers will bounce and seek out your competitors.
Q: What about optimising sites with eCommerce? Is there anything special to consider if I’m selling a lot of products?
Lots of products = more stuff for your website to load.
How’s your eCommerce set up? Usually, plugins like WooCommerce come with a fair bit of built-in optimisation, but the more you customise and add new items, the more updates are needed. If that applies to your site, it’s worth checking with your developer to make sure your online store is optimised.
A golden word to learn for anyone selling online: pagination. Ever seen a button allowing you to select how many products are displayed on a page? Or a page that only loads more items if you scroll down?
That’s pagination; separating content into pages, to stop your page speed being crushed by a massive data request. If you’re selling or showcasing many different items and you don’t have pagination in place, it’s definitely time to get on top of it.
You can help this process by scaling down your image sizes, giving users that silky-smooth loading experience.
Want to know how to boost your website security?
That’s coming up next in part two of our website optimization series – essential reading if your site deals in eCommerce or online bookings.