If your website doesn’t load quickly enough you will be losing visitors.

It is estimated that if a website doesn’t load within 2 or 3 seconds then you will start to lose visitors. They will also be less likely to continue browsing through the site, less likely to return and less likely to recommend it to other people. As networks get quicker users patience will only get shorter as they come to expect sites to load almost instantaneously and so that 2 to 3 second threshold is only going to get even less.

The faster your site the better the UX

A better user experience (UX) will enhance your brand and so of course a negative user experience will damage your brand and page speed plays a part in this. A one second delay in webpage time equals a 7% reduction in conversions, 11% fewer page views and 16% reduction in customer satisfaction. According to Pingdom, if a site takes 5 seconds to load the bounce rate is 38%.

Google’s mobile-first index

In March 2018, Google announced that they are going to start rolling out mobile-first indexing which means they will use the mobile version of a page for indexing and ranking. They have also stated that page speed does play a part in a sites search engine ranking position and now with mobile-first the importance of this is only going to grow.

What impacts on page speed

Server speed

This is one of the most important factors in whether or not your site loads quickly. A site on a shared server which shares resources such as the CPU, RAM etc with potentially thousands of other sites is going to be slower than a server with fewer sites larger RAM, faster CPU plus other aspects such as web server configuration file, GZIP compression, database tuning, the version of PHP and MySQL, object caching, mod pagespeed etc etc.

Page weight and number of resources

This is the total filesize of all the elements of a web page, such as images, HTML code, Javascript and CSS files, web fonts. The file size of images can be made smaller by reducing the dimensions where possible and saving them at reduced quality, but it is not necessary to do this to the detriment of how it looks. Use online compression tools or a plugin so they are crunched when they are uploaded. Images can also be modified ‘on the fly’ by the server such as automatically converting them to webp or base64 both of which have smaller filesizes as well as re-sizing them to a size appropriate to the device / screen size they are being viewed on.

The main HTML page code, Javascript and CSS files can be minified and combined to reduce the number of requests a page needs to make to the server. Much of this can be achieved by using caching and optimisation plugins. Web fonts can be served locally, though this can sometimes actually increase the time a page takes to load, so it shouldn’t necessarily be something that should be done in every case. Google analytics code can also be served locally.

Additional page speed optimisations

  1. Use a server located in the region where the majority of your audience reside. The further away the slower it will be for them.
  2. Reduce the number of plugins and remove ones which are not being used.
  3. Reduce DNS lookups. This is the time it takes to find out which IP address you domain name points to.
  4. Reduce the number of redirects.
  5. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN).

Optimising a sites page speed can take sometime, as minifying code and caching pages can also completely mess up the layout, so there is often quite a bit of trial and error involved and you need to test it in multiple browsers and platforms, as it may work for one browser, particularly the most modern ones, but not necessarily for older ones.

Test your website

You can test your own website at these resources below

  1. GT Metrix
  2. Pingdom Tools
  3. Web Page Test

Page speed optimisation service

At Applejack, we have considerable experience in optimising the page speed of websites and regularly achieve 95% or more and sometimes even 100% page speed rating such as this very site. Our servers are super quick with very fast processors, 24 cores, multiple versions of PHP from 5.4 right up to 7.2 along with Google’s Mod Pagespeed and Redis Object Caching to make it even faster.

You can find out more about out page speed optimisation service using the button below.