Worried that your website is letting your company down? If you’re struggling to pull organic traffic to your site, these tips to improve site performance could be the change you’ve been looking for.
What is website performance? There’s a few aspects that we’ll focus on later, but it all basically boils down to one thing — speed. A fast website is essential because without it, you’re basically sending people away. The longer your site makes people wait, the higher the rate of people abandoning your site and moving on to something else — which is not good for your search ranking.
Think about the last time you were annoyed because the internet wasn’t loading fast enough. It drove you insane, right? Some of us remember having patience waiting for webpages to load, but new technology has made that a thing of the past.
We’re so used to having things right when we need them, that it has become a staple of a good user experience to have your website load as fast as possible. With recent Google updates, your site can actually be punished for not loading within a fast timeframe. If your competitor’s website is faster than yours, it’s possible that their site can be pushed above yours because Google sees it as a better result for your target audience.
Before you start running to start redesigning your site, test your website against these key factors for great site performance.
Looking to Turn Over a New Leaf? Improve Your Site Performance With These Tips
How do you improve your site performance? Optimize! With all the updates to technology and the way Google ranks search, there’s four specific things you can do to make your site match the current standards:
- Decrease your page speed
- Decrease your page size
- Utilize browser caching
- Make sure you use 301 redirects
Let’s start with the one thing we already touched on: speed. Every page on your site needs to be like a featherweight boxer in the ring — light and fast. So what’s the definition of a speedy site? Three seconds or less for pages to load, and three seconds is still pushing it. You really want to shoot for having pages load under one second to provide the absolute best experience.
Three seconds might not seem like a long time, but on the web, it’s ages. If a page takes any longer than that to load, people quickly start running out of patience. For every second longer, there is a 5.8 percent abandonment rate. When you look at how to approach improving site performance, how fast your pages load can be an initial red flag for how much work you’re going to need to do.
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What’s weighing your pages down? If you want to cut down on your page loading time, look at how much media is on your site. Large images and videos are big files — and big files take forever to download. The size of your page is determined by everything that you’ve put on it, and the heavier it is, the slower it will be. Pages shouldn’t be bigger than 3MB — in this case, less is more.
Now that your pages are lighter, give them an extra boost with browser caching. If you’re not familiar with it, browser caching is when you tell a web browser (like Chrome, Firefox, or Safari) to download and store the bigger files on your site the first time it visits it. This way when someone comes back for the second time, the files are already downloaded and the browser can pull up your site even faster.
Web performance is all about your user’s experience; don’t make them wait forever for your site to load and make sure that when it does load, they’re seeing what they’re supposed to be seeing. Ever clicked a link on a site that was supposed to take you to a new page but ended up on a 404 page instead? This is a sign of a page update gone wrong. Whenever you update your website, if you change the URL of your pages in any way, you have to set up a 301 redirect in order to make sure anything linking to that page will go to the right place, without it your visitors will just find an error.
All of these small things make a big impact on how you improve site performance, and if you’re considering diving into a full website redesign, take a look and see how your website does when it’s put to the test. You can run your website through a quick test like HubSpot’s Website Grader to see if there are any immediate issues.
Taking the right steps toward improving site performance are important to building a better representation of your brand online. Interested in learning more steps to a better site? Check out part two of our blog series on inbound content.