Today’s Google is more focused toward UX than ever before… And the footprints give crystal clear answer: you give the users what they want and they’ll give you what you are looking for! After all the user behavior is directly correlated with how much Google earns.
With the advent of hummingbird and Rankbrain (Google’s new playtoy), the indications are pretty clear. Google is shifting more toward understanding users query and trying to think like a human.
Now the question arises what are negative elements of your website that makes your user to leave your site?
There are tons of metrics and factors that come to my mind when I play with the term user behavior. But the one factor that I feel has its unique position above all is the speed at which your site loads.
“Why I feel site speed stands above content”
Yes! There are many of you who may insist that hitting the right content on the right eyeballs is all you need to gain user traction. But what if your epic content doesn’t reach to your audience due to poor server response? Or what if your site takes ages to load. It’s not 90’s where people were habitual of slow internet connection.
Let me give you a real-time example: So you go to this beautiful restaurant that had been referred to you by your friend. You order Texas barbeque pork.. But instead you receive restaurant’s all time favorite cuisine –The waiting cuisine
What would be your first reaction? Even if you are incredibly patient, you will be pissed off. Result – you may leave the restaurant and probably never go back!
The same rule applies with the websites that float in the web which automatically adds up to the bounce rate of your site.
Furthermore, an immediate bounce may reflect to pogo sticking.
Pogo sticking simply means that users are continuously hitting back to the search results because they weren’t satisfied with the end results… And many SEOs believe that pogo sticking has a prominent role to play in search rankings.
I apologize for such a long explanation. Now coming back to the main theme “ I’ll show you 4 quick and insanely effective tips to increase your site’s speed in 30 minutes or even less than that. And, trust me you don’t have to be a professional wordpress developer to implement this work.
If you follow these tips you can easily raise your page speed from 40% to 90%.
So let’s get started
1. Leverage Browser Caching
If you have a static website, you should use expiry headers to leverage browser caching. What it does is it tells the browser how long it should hang on to the files.
If you have no or less knowledge about expiry modules, you can copy the code below & paste it on your .htacess file on an Apache server:
## EXPIRES CACHING ##
ExpiresByType image/jpg "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/gif "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/png "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType text/css "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType text/html "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/pdf "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType image/x-icon "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType application/vnd.ms-fontobject "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType font/ttf "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType font/otf "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType font/x-woff "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/svg+xml "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresDefault "access 1 month"
## EXPIRES CACHING ##
However, if your site is built on WordPress, you can use plugins like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache
2. Enable Compression
As the name suggests, you have to compress files at the server level before sending them to visitors. Basically you can compress resources by using deflate or GZIP compression. Below is a sample of the deflate method And it works perfectly with both static and dynamic sites
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/ttf font/otf image/svg+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/svg+xml application/vnd.ms-fontobject
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/cache-manifest
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/ttf font/otf image/svg+xml
This is code you have to drop on your .htaccess.
The problem with having too many plugins is that it increases the number of HTTP requests. So I would recommend to go with the deflate code.
3. Optimize Images
The size of images can play a huge role on increasing the load time of your site. So make it as small as possible and don’t depend on the browser to re-size them for you.
There are many free tools like Image Optimizer and Tiny PNG that can help you with the process. I prefer Tiny PNG though. You can re-size your image once and drag & drop the re-sized image again for even more optimized image.
You can also use CSS sprites to reduce the number of bytes download per page & server requests.
This is the method where you combine different images into one image that loads all at once. With CSS you can only call for the required image by allocating defined height, width, and position.
So because browser doesn’t have to seek for different image files, there will be no page loading delay.
4. JS and CSS Minify
JS and CSS Minify remove any unnecessary comments, empty elements or white spaces from the files. This simple but effective method can speed up your site’s load time.
Is Technical not your stuff? Doesn’t matter, because there are tons of free online tools that can help you with the task.
5. Avoid Bad Request
Bad Request or 400 errors not only hampers the site speed but also puts a negative impact on the total SEO value of your site. You are wasting HTTP requests with these broken URLs. Be sure to fix this problem immediately as it has adverse effect on Google’s crawl rate.
You don’t want to waste the Google’s crawl budget in something that doesn’t exist.
You can check your site’s Webmaster tools for server errors or missing pages. It may look something like this:
Now when you find out the broken link either you correct it or replace it, the fixing process is up to you.
6. Use Content Delivery Networks
CDN as the name suggest is a network of servers located at various points around the world. The work of CDN is to cache the static content of a site like CSS and JS files. And when the user request for the content, it sends the data from the nearest server available to the user.
Let’s take a real life example to elaborate the importance of CDN.
Imagine you have to buy a product from a shop that is in Sydney. It would take a load of time, won’t it? But if the same shop opens up its network and spreads the product to USA. It will take less time consume the product. That’s what CDN is.
If you are still unclear about it, take a look at this handy graphic from GTmetrix:
Fortunately, there are various CDNs out there in the web. Most of which are paid ones.
If I had to choose top three, it would be:
- MaxCDN: There is a reason why big names like “The Washington Times” use MaxCDN to power-up their site. Their services cover most part of the world including US, China, UK, & Australia. Their basic plan starts with 100 GB bandwidth at $9 per month.
- CloudFlare: Another popular and well-know CDN is CloudFlare. Its basic plan starts with $20 which includes fast site performance, security protection, & stats about your visitors.
- Rackspace Cloud Files: If you are a Rackspace customer, you will feel happy to know that Rackspace has partnered with a third party CDN – Akamai. With Akamai, their service spreads to over 200 global edge locations.
7. Avoid Using too many Tracking codes & External List Building Forms
Have you heard the phrase – simplicity is the key to brilliance? Yes, that applies with your site too. Don’t complicate your work with too many analytics code. It does nothing but increase the site load time.
If you are obliged to use the program anyhow, don’t use more than two. Having way too many codes can not only slow down the site but also can get you a messy raw data… And don’t forget to put the code in the bottom of the page.
Important: If a user leaves before your code starts processing, you won’t be able to track the data of that user.
Similarly avoid using external list building tools. Many tools require you to insert the code in your file which needs extra calling from the other server that has the file. An example would be the code given by Manycontacts:
The more you reduce the amount of codes, the more it boost the speed of your website as a whole.
3 Tools I prefer the Most for Site Speed and Diagnosis
Google Page Speed Insights is a sleek tool that rates your site in terms of a score of 100. After the demise of chrome’s page insights owned by Google, this is the only authentic tool that helps to see from the eye of Google.
It provides with helpful suggestions that are categorized under the basis red alert, yellow alert, and green alert.
If I have to look for site speed recommendation, this tool is where I look to. It provides generic recommendation but can be handy, when it comes to site speed optimization.
Similar to the 2 tools above, this free page test tool runs a test of your site and grades your site under the score of 100. It gets you the report of performance data, page load time, size analysis, and so on.
It also gives you recommendation to increase site performance And also tells you where your site stands on certain recommendations.
My 3 Favorite WordPress Plugins for improving Website’s Speed:
You probably have heard this cliché over and over again – “Optimize your database.” Every single time you work on a post, WordPress automatically saves your work. By default, it stores, all the unnecessary stuffs like revisions & trash data.
This sleek plugin will remove all the messy data, including trackbacks, pingbacks, & unwanted information generated by gist of plugins.
Now it may not sound like a big change. But if you play around with WP Optimize along with few more, you will get the desired result.
Undoubtedly, browser caching is the key factor in increasing your site speed.
If you are in WordPress and you have to face problem like this:
You may want to include WP Super Cache in your arsenal. Once a user visits you site, a static file is generated by Super Cache. And whenever the person visits it again, the server calls the static file rather than accessing the bigger PHP scripts over and over again.
BJ Lazy Load along with the two plugins above is my go-to-plugins when it comes to reducing website’s load time.
BJ Lazy Load simply replaces all the images and videos with a placeholder. Since the resources below the fold are only loaded once the user scrolls through the site, it results in faster WebPages.
If you are still not down with that, these case studies can be an eye opener:
- Juan Martitegui got his landing pages to convert 3x to 4x when he hosted his site’s pages to Google Server Network.
- Shopzilla found that by increasing their site speed by 5 seconds can increase their conversion rate by 7 -12%
- In 2013, Neil Patel increased his traffic by 2000 visitors per day by increasing the speed of his site – Quicksprout.
- List25 got a 7% reduction on their bounce rate after optimizing their site for speed.
Now I have a question – Are you doing justice to your site? How do you rate your site in terms of speed?