Website speed impacts both user experience and ranking on search results. If you have a fast website, you will notice a gradual increase in conversion rates. The increased revenue from tweaking your site to increase loading speed makes it a worthwhile investment.
When shopping online, customers to interact with a site that is fast and easy to use. A slow website might force a customer to change their decision, even after adding a product to the cart. If the website is too slow, the users will get frustrated and abandon it for a competitor’s site.
Ideally, your website should load within two seconds. This is the maximum recommended by Google’s John Mueller. If you want to increase website speed, you first have to identify the factors that are slowing down your site. You need to test the pages that are part of the checkout process to reduce the number of abandoned carts.
How to Increase Website Speed and Conversion
As seen above, your website speed impacts the user experience and conversions. There are several factors behind a slow website, and you need to address them to generate more revenue.
Here the best ways of increasing your website speed in 2019.
Minimise HTTP Requests
Each of these elements requires an HTTP request, which means that more elements hurt the loading speed of your webpages. You can easily track the number of requests made by a webpage using Google Chrome’s Developer Tools. Once you have the number, find ways of reducing them by removing all elements that are not critical to the loading of your website.
You should notice an improvement in loading speed after removing the non-critical elements and refreshing the website.
Synchronous loading is where the elements load one at a time, in a sequential order. Asynchronous loading means that the elements load simultaneously.
You should always use asynchronous loading to increase website speed and boost your conversion rates.
Minimise Time to the First Byte
Time to the first byte is a measure of the time it takes for the server to respond when a user types your URL in the browser. According to Google, it should be less than 200 milliseconds.
In most cases, slow time to the first byte is caused by network issues, dynamic content creation, congested traffic and improper web server configuration. Of these factors, you can only adjust the dynamic content creation and server configuration.
You can speed up dynamic pages by enabling caching. Regarding the server, always confirm that the configuration is right before running your website. If you improve these two, you will increase website speed and conversions.
Choose the Right Host
A common mistake made by website owners is going for the cheapest hosting option. Instead of going for the cut-rate option, you should look for a reliable provider.
There are three types of web hosting; shared hosting, VPS hosting and dedicated servers.
Shared hosting is a model where you share the computing power of the server, which means that it has the cheapest plans. It is not suited for eCommerce sites that mainly focus on conversions and sales. Every time a site that is sharing the same resources as yours receives high traffic levels, you will experience reduced website speed on your end.
VPS hosting is mostly similar to shared hosting, with the difference being that you have a dedicated portion of the computing resources. It is a cheaper alternative to dedicated hosting that does not suffer the shortcomings of shared hosting.
Dedicated hosting is where you host the website on your server. You are also responsible for the maintenance. If configured correctly, it offers the best website speed.
If you notice that your site is loading slowly, you should move from shared hosting to VPS hosting. If you are already on VPS, it is time to invest in a dedicated server.
You can boost website speed significantly by using smaller files. The best way of reducing file size is by enabling compression. You should particularly focus on CSS and HTML, as they often have repeated codes and a lot of whitespaces.
Compressing your files improves website load time, which encourages users to stay on and purchase your items.
Reduce Image Sizes
High-quality images usually have a large size that can hurt your website speed. However, you cannot have a website without images.
If you want to increase your website conversion rate, your site must have plenty of product images. You need to compress these images so that your site loads fast enough.
The easiest way of resizing your images is by cropping. After uploading the photo in its original format, you can crop it to the desired size and reduce the space it takes up on your website. Alternatively, you can use plugins and compression tools that are readily available on the internet.
Another factor that affects speed is the file format of images on your website. The form you choose has an impact on the size of the image.
JPG is the best file format for most cases. It uses lossy compression, which means that the images have a small file size. Using JPG images ensures that you have a fast website without affecting the quality of images.
PNG images use lossless compression, meaning that they producer larger file sizes than JPG. They are ideal for use in areas that require crisp detail, such as logos, screenshots and infographics.
GIFs are ideal for small images, especially animated ones.
Use a Content Delivery Network
Besides the hosting servers, you can use other networks to improve your website speed. When your site is hosted on one server, every person visiting the website sends requests to it. If the traffic numbers spike, the server will be slow to respond, and the effect will trickle over to your site.
Since high-traffic times present the biggest opportunity to get conversions, you cannot afford to have a slow website. The best way of avoiding such issues is by using a content delivery network.
A content delivery network allows you to cache your website on several servers around the world. When a user tries to access your website, their request is routed to the closest server, increasing the loading speed.
Prioritise Above-the-fold Content
A smart way of improving website speed is by prioritising above-the-fold content. This is the content that the user first sees when they open your website. This approach also enhances the user experience for websites that have a lot of content.
WordPress offers an abundance of plugins that ensure that the topmost content loads first before other elements on a webpage.
Reduce the Number of Plugins
Although they are useful, too many plugins can reduce your website speed. You need to continually check, deactivate and delete any plugins that are not useful to your website.
When evaluating your plugins, do away with the ones that have overlapping functions. If you have two plugins that improve website speed, you should remove the less efficient of the two. You should also eliminate any plugins that perform tasks that you can do manually.
If you want to increase your website conversion rate, you need to reduce the number of redirects on your site. Too many redirects increase the number of HTTP requests, which translates to slower loading speeds.
According to Google, website owners should remove redirects altogether. While this is challenging, you can start by eliminating all redirects that are not adding value to your site.
Monitor Your Speed Regularly
As you optimise your website speed, you should measure it frequently to see the progress you are making. Monitoring also allows you to notice any issues before they become hard to contain.
The internet has several tools for measuring website speed, both free and paid. Most of them give insights on how to improve speed.
Improving your website speed requires time and resources, but its potential benefits make it worth the effort. It is worth noting that this is a continual process. You do not need to implement all of the tips mentioned above at a go.
First, you need to assess the current speed of your website. You can then look at the tips mentioned on this list to improve it. Once this is done, measure again to see the progress.
If you are experiencing low conversion rates, you need to look at your website speed and design. Also, get in touch with us for more custom recommendations on how to achieve both goals without spending a fortune.