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SEO 15 min read May 21, 2019

19 Easy Ways To Improve Your Site Speed

19 Easy Ways To Improve Your Site Speed

Joydeep Bhattacharya
Author of the SEO Sandwitch Blog.
Site speed is one of the crucial ranking factors when it comes to improving mobile user experience. As per Hubspot, a one second delay can cause a 7% decrease in conversions. Moreover, 79% of online shoppers say that they won't return to a site that loads slowly.

It is needless to say, Google and other search engines use site speed as a ranking factor. Hence, site speed affects both SEO and paid search campaigns.
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As a webmaster or an internet marketer, the single best thing you can do to improve the performance of your campaigns is to improve the speed of your site. Here are some easy ways to improve your site speed:

#1: Use A CDN

CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. In simpler terms, CDN is a server that stores files whenever a user requests them from the origin server. From the second request onwards, a CDN fetches data from its own server instead of taking a trip to the original server. This drastically helps to improve site speed. The below figure illustrates how CDN works:
A CDN is handy in delivering static content to users faster. It also helps to lower bandwidth costs and offer a better ability to handle traffic spikes during peak times.

#2: Make Use Of WordPress Plugins

Some WordPress plugins are really impressive in boosting the speed of your WordPress site. Below is a list of some of the best ones:
WP-Optimize helps you keep your database fast and efficient by removing all the unnecessary data like spam comments and defragmenting MySQL tables. It performs optimizations without the need of manual commands and is mobile friendly.
W3 Total Cache helps you reduce download time and improves the overall user experience. After you install this plugin, your pages will start to render quickly, and there will be up to 80% bandwidth savings due to HTTP compression of HTML, CSS and other feeds.
WP Super Minify helps to compress HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. This plugin minifies and caches inline JS and CSS files on demand and this, in turn, improves the page loading speed.
Smush optimizes and compresses all the images on your site. You can optimize up to 50 images with just a single click without losing quality. Moreover, with automated optimization, you can opt for instant compression of images on upload.

#3: Choose A Faster Web Hosting

Your web host plays the most vital role in speeding up your site. Hence, it is important to choose the right web hosting that offers server reliability and uptime guarantees. Here is a great resource that discusses every essential factor you need to consider before choosing a web host.

I would recommend you to opt for dedicated hosting because this will guarantee the availability of dedicated resources. You can choose between a VPN or a dedicated server. Check this Cloudwards article to get the lowdown on the best VPN providers.

#4: Leverage The Power Of Image Sprites

CSS spriting is a technique that helps you combine several images into a single "sprite image" sheet.

The biggest advantage that spriting offers is that it reduces the number of downloads required to get multiple images. With just a single download, you can increase the page speed drastically.

#5: Add Expires Headers

Expires headers allow you to instruct the browser to fetch all the resources in the browser's cache. When the requested resources are fetched directly from the browser's cache, then the round trip to the main server is needless, and this improves the loading time of the webpage. Expires headers reduce the load on the server by reducing the number of HTTP requests to the server. This tool from GT Metrix lets you analyze your site for expires headers and here are sample codes that you need to add in the .htaccess files for adding expires headers in your site.

#6: Delete All Unnecessary Plugins

Unused plugins can take up a lot of space and make your site look cluttered. Every plugin installed on your site must do a particular task. Besides, there should be no plugin in your site that's outdated because they might slow down your entire site.
Simply open your plugin directory and delete all the unnecessary plugins. Make sure to take up a backup of your site before you start uninstalling the plugins. UpdraftPlus is a great plugin that backups your files and databases into the cloud and effectively restores them with a single click.

#7: Compress Your Images

Images take up to 54% of the total weight of a webpage. Therefore, it is necessary to compress all your images so that they don't take a lot of time to load. Compression should be done without the loss of quality.
Compressing your images can provide you with the following benefits:

  • your site will load much faster
  • you will be able to take up site backups much faster
  • smaller size images consume less bandwidth so there would be less load on your server.

You can use tools such as Image Compressor, OptiPNG, JPEGmini, etc. to compress your images online before uploading them.

#8: Reduce The Number Of Redirects

You need to minimize the number of redirects happening on your site to reduce the burden on your web server.

Redirects happen when the user requests a different resource than the one that is returned. Every form of redirect happens to decrease page speed. Especially in the case of mobile users, redirects tend to make a site load really slower, thereby degrading the user experience and decreasing conversions.
You must avoid using any redirects in the first place, but in case it is unavoidable then consider using server-side redirects in place of client-side redirects because a server can handle redirects faster than the client.

#9: Minify CSS, JavaScript and HTML

Minifying codes in your HTML, JS and CSS files can certainly help you improve site speed. Minification is done to remove the following stuff from your code:

  • newline characters
  • whitespace characters
  • comments
  • block delimiters

HTML Minifier is an awesome tool aimed to remove all unnecessary characters from your codes. When they are removed, then your files load faster, resulting in great user experience.

#10: Minimize RTTs

RTT stands for Round Trip Time. It is the time required for a packet of information to travel from a source computer to the destination computer. In simpler terms, it is the time taken by the data to travel and reach the user's computer who requested it.
RTT can be reduced by changing the location of the source computer by making use of a CDN so that the source computer becomes closer to the client computer. Besides, increasing the bandwidth also helps to decrease RTT.

#11: Enable HTTP Keep-Alive

Keep-alive is a method to use the same HTTP conversation for every new request. You can leave keep alive enabled by using the "Keep-alive" HTTP header.
When the browser has to request a new connection request for every single element, the page load time increases. To keep that down, keep-alive headers are enabled so that the elements can be downloaded using a single connection request.

#12: Enable Gzip Compression

Gzip compression is a must for every site owner because it plays a vital role in reducing the size of the webpage. There is a reduction of around 30% in the actual size of the HTML, CSS, PHP and JS files if you use Gzip compression.

You can take the Gzip compression test to check whether your site has Gzip enabled or not.

To enable Gzip compression on your site, follow the steps mentioned in this article.

#13: Keep All Your Scripts Below The Fold

Always keep JavaScript codes below your main content as this won't degrade the user experience. Besides, use HTML script defer attribute and HTML script async attribute along with .js files to defer the loading of scripts before the main content.

#14: Consider Lazy Loading

Lazy loading is primarily used in cases of images and videos because they take a lot of time to load. If you use lazy load, then your users can view the images or videos only when they need it.

#15: Fix All Broken Links

A broken link is also known as a dead link. It is that link on your site that no longer works. Such pages return a 404 meaning the requested web page was not found on the server. A broken link creates a wasted HTTP response and hence decreases the page load speed marginally.
    Broken links can also happen in your CSS, JavaScript and Image URLs so you must regularly check your site for broken links.
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    #16: Disable Hotlinking

    Hotlinking happens when any other site present in the world wide web links back to your site's files such as images and videos. Every time the resource is requested, your server faces a load and the available bandwidth is minimized.

    Hence, it is important to disable hotlinking because it indirectly reduces your available bandwidth and slows down your site.

    You can prevent hotlinking of images by adding code into the .htaccess file. Follow this resource to get the code.

    #17: Regularly Optimize Your Database

    As time passes, the database is loaded with garbage information that needs to be cleaned regularly. You need to eliminate out-of-date information, remove duplicates and correct mismatched data. If your database contains correct information in a sorted manner then your site speed will definitely improve.

    #18: Use PageSpeed Tools

    You need to take the help of tools like Google Page Speed Insights and Pingdom to optimize your site. These tools will analyze your existing site speed and provide recommendations to improve it. You will be able to identify the bottlenecks that make your site load slowly and find actionable information on fixing those.

    #19: Decrease Liquid Loops And Optimize For Mobile

    Take The Mobile Speed Test and find out the actual reasons that are causing your site to load slowly on mobile devices. The tool automatically provides recommendations to improve mobile site speed.
    Besides, you need to follow the best suggestions to have a faster loading time especially on mobile devices:

    • create AMP pages because such pages load faster on mobile devices. AMP is already a crucial factor for ranking highly in the organic search results for mobile
    • have a refined site structure and a clear site hierarchy as shown in the figure below:
    • keep a user-friendly URL structure and optimize your images, videos and other files
    • put JS at the bottom and CSS at the top
    • take the help of a mobile CDN
    • use touch events that support simultaneous touches because it is both user-friendly and fast.
    • get rid of duplicate categories and tags
    • have a responsive site and use frameworks like Bootstrap because it helps you keep a site faster.

    Final Thoughts

    We have moved a long way along from search engine optimization to search experience optimization. Site speed is a crucial aspect of search experience optimization. Follow the methods discussed in this article to improve your page speed and raise your conversions easily.
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