As a website owner, the impact of your website speed on traffic, conversions and revenue should not be underestimated. A report by Akaimi found that 46% of people on the internet expect a wesbite’s pages to load in less than 2 seconds and 40% of people will abandon a web page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
Many other studies have been published on the impact of website speed, another study found that a 1 second delay in site loading time resulted in a 6% conversion decrease, and 12% decrease in page views and a 15% decrease in customer satisfaction. As you might already know Google uses website speed as a ranking factor.
So, having a slow loading website will negatively impact the following:
- Brand image and perception in the mind of your visitors
- Traffic & page views
Before you start optimizing your website to load faster, there are two things you should consider:
Here are the tweaks, in no particular order. Just pick ones that you think can be easily performed first.
1) Remove Unnecessary Plugins & Add-ons
Unnecessary plugins and add-ons can reduce your website speed by A LOT, and it’s especially important to pay attention to them if you use blogging CMSs like WordPress or Drupal.
For reference, you might be able to increase your page load times for 4 second to 1.5 seconds.
It’s very important to note that it’s not just about the number of plugins you have installed on your website but about the quality as well. A website with 50 plugins can load much faster than a website with 10 plugins if the website with fewer plugins have crappy plugins. Generally, you want to avoid plugins that load a lot of scripts and styles, plugins that perform lots of remote requests and plugins that add extra database queries to every page on your website.
Indeed, plugins help enhance your website’s functionality but it is also important to only use a plugin if you’re convinced that it is absolutely necessary.
If you’re a WordPress user, you might want to install the P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler);
This plugin will scan all of your WordPress plugins to find the bottlenecks, and give you a report so that you can see how each plugin affects your website performance.
2) Significantly Limit (or Remove) Social Sharing Buttons on Your Website
If you believe that you need to have 100 social sharing buttons on your website, think again. It’s hard to pinpoint research that establishes a massive boost in website traffic due to having social sharing buttons (if anything, too many social sharing buttons will confuse your readers), but research shows that a slow website does reduce traffic.
The solution is to either limit/remove social sharing buttons, or to configure them to load asynchronously so that an outage of a particular social media site won’t slow down your website.
3) Enable “Expires” Headers
There are several factors that influence how fast a website is, but the server response time contributes a great deal to site speed; the more requests are being made to your server, the slower it’ll take your website to load.
Expires Headers tell your visitor’s browser when to request certain files from your server vs. from their browser cache; if an Expires Headers is configured so that your visitor’s browser only request a file once in a month, and that file has been stored in their cache from a recent visit, then their browser won’t request that file again until a month is over. This is like a double-edged sword for boosting site speed because it limits the number of HTTP requests on your server and at the same time reduces load on your server since the same file won’t be requested repeatedly.
If you want to implement Expires Headers on your website, this GTmetrix tutorial shows you how.
4) Enable HTTP Keep-Alive
Usually, when a visitor’s web browser tries to request a file from your web server, it will grab each file individually; in other words, a connection closes when a file has been grabbed, and then reopens to request a new file. This uses more processor, network and memory and eventually leads to a slower website if there’s a lot of load on your server. Enabling HTTP keep-alive ensures that all file requests to your server will be made via a single open connection, leading to a much faster website for your users by limiting the number of connections to your server.
You can enable keep-alive by copying and pasting the code below into your .htaccess file:
Header set Connection keep-alive