Page speed is now a crucial website feature, because our attention spans are dwindling and we’ll switch to a competitor’s page in a matter of seconds.
A slow page speed can cost you valuable leads, conversions, and revenue; all vital when building your small publication into a business or niche hotspot.
To help, here we break down everything you need to know about page speed, including tools for testing and optimizing, and tips for creating a fast-loading website.
What is Page Speed and Why is it Important?
Page speed is the time it takes for a web page to fully load and render on a person’s device, such as a desktop computer or smartphone.
There are plenty of reasons to care about page speed, it significantly impacts:
- Time on site – If your page loads slowly, users may get frustrated and leave quickly, missing out on the important information on offer.
- Conversions – If people leave your site because your page loads too slowly, they won’t move down the funnel, engage with your messaging, and convert by providing contact information or making a purchase.
Page speed doesn’t just affect the consumer experience; it can also have a direct impact on your analytics and bottom line, proving it’s a priority for any publisher.
What Should My Page Speed Be?
There’s no one-size-fits-all page speed, but the rule of thumb is the faster, the better. Certain studies can help you find the best page speed for your site. For example, consider the following:
- The average mobile page speed is 2.594 seconds and the average desktop page speed is 1.286 seconds, according to Backlinko.
- A zero to four second page load time is best for conversion rates, according to Portent. After five seconds, conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42% for each additional second.
- 70% of mobile landing pages take more than seven seconds to fully load, according to Google. And, as page load time jumps from one second to ten seconds, the probability of bounce increases by 123%.
Average page speeds will continue to increase as publishers adopt new tools and strategies to improve their loading times. As Google found, average mobile page speeds dropped by seven seconds between 2017 and 2018. Portent also reported that, between 2014 and 2019, the percentage of sites with an average load time of five plus seconds dropped from 50% to just 22%.
Tools for Testing and Optimizing Page Speed
There are plenty of tools you can use to find out what your page speed is and how to improve on it.
Here are some popular solutions:
GTmetrix tests your page speed across devices, browsers, connection types, and countries, providing a detailed report of performance indicators and opportunities for improvement. It also plays back website elements, such as videos and ads, to see how they might impact your load speed.
KeyCDN analyzes page speed and pinpoints connectivity issues with real-time reports. This platform provides options for testing speed from ten different locations across the globe, and delivers a breakdown of HTTP requests and loading times.
Five Tips for Increasing Page Speed
If you need to improve your loading time to keep consumers engaged and on-site, start employing these tips now:
1. Decrease HTTP Requests
Each element on your page triggers an HTTP request in order to load. This includes all images, texts, and code. A page with too many elements and requests can slow down page speed.
Decrease the number of HTTP requests needed to load your page by:
- Removing unnecessary elements
- Getting rid of plugins that load separately
According to Google, it’s best to have less than 50 requests for individual pieces of content on one web page.
2. Compress Images
Compressing images reduces their size and helps them load faster. As Google reports, 25% of pages could save more than 250KB by simply compressing images and text.
3. Enable Caching
Caching involves storing web page elements that have already loaded, so they don’t have to load again each time they’re recalled. If someone has already visited your website, for example, caching helps your site load more quickly next time they visit, or as they navigate from page to page.
4. Minify HTML Code
Minify your files to remove extraneous code, duplicated data, and white space. This reduces the file size and makes your code easier to load and render.
5. Host Videos on External Platforms
It’s tempting to host videos natively on your website, but if you’re looking to increase page speed, hosting on external platforms can help. This reduces the burden on your server and helps videos — and your page — render more quickly.
This is also easy to do. Pick a video platform, such as YouTube or Vimeo, upload your content there, and embed it onto your website.
Other tips for optimizing video on your website include:
- Using an MP4 file format
- Compressing your video files
- Disabling autoplay
6. Load Scripts Asynchronously
When your web page is opened, it will try to load all HTML scripts at the same time. If you have a lot of code and page elements, it may take a while before your web page fully renders, leaving visitors waiting and frustrated.
One solution is to instruct your system to load your scripts asynchronously, or not all at once. This way, your page can start rendering right away. You can do this by adding ‘asynchronous’ to your code or using a helpful plugin.
7. Improve Server Response Time
When someone enters your website into their browser, it triggers a request to your domain name system (DNS) server to look up your IP address and start the process of loading your website on their browser.
If this process is too slow, try switching to a faster DNS server. Consider popular free DNS servers, such as OpenDNS, Cloudflare, 184.108.40.206, and Comodo Secure DNS. Check out this DNS speed comparison report to find the right option for you.
8. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A content delivery network (CDN) is a group of servers that work together to load web page elements — such as HTML code, images, and videos — more quickly. As servers in a CDN are spread out geographically, they can trigger the server closest to each website visitor to help load the page. Faster loading speed isn’t the only benefit of a CDN either. These networks can also:
- Reduce bandwidth consumption and costs
- Improve security
- Handle large amounts of website traffic
9. Prioritize Above-the-Fold Content
To keep visitors on your page, code your website so that content above the fold loads first. This means people can engage with any content up top while the rest of your website continues to load — especially if it contains a lot of rich content such as images. Use tools such as Lazy Load to make this process easier.
The Need for Speed
Whether you’re just launching your publisher page or looking to revamp a running site, make page speed a priority. Remember, an improvement of just one second can bring in new leads and engagements, which helps drive performance and grow your audience. Visitors will only expect pages to load even more quickly as technologies advance and publishers continue to update their strategies.
In your search for increased speed, use the tools and tips provided here to guide you, so you can concentrate on publishing high-quality content and counting those conversions.