When website pages fail to load fast, existing users and now Google are taking notice. Whereas current users are likely to grow impatient and take their business elsewhere, Google algorithms are accounting for this slow user experience in search rankings that attract new website visitors.
After consulting the benchmarks for website page speed, you may see room for improvement — and if that’s the case, we want to share some of our own insights to help you see real progress. This article features four tips that can work independently or collectively to support your efforts.
When a user visits a page on your website, your website’s server receives an HTTP request to return the files contained on the page back to the browser. Naturally, the more files that are requested and the bigger the files requested, the longer it will take for a website page to load.
The first question to ask in this case is: Are there any unnecessary images you can remove? It could be that some of the images that take the longest to load serve little purpose on the page and are fine to get rid of altogether.
Once you know the images you want to keep, ask yourself if there are opportunities to reduce their size. Generally speaking, it’s recommended that image sizes are lower than 100 KB — far from the megabyte (MB) territory. While platforms like HubSpot will automatically compress and resize images for you, tools like Squoosh or TinyPNG enable you to compress images manually.
Just as unnecessary images can hinder website page speed performance, the same can be said for unnecessary code. Oftentimes, as websites are revamped and built upon, whitespaces, characters, and duplications can be carried over into the code. Without adding any value to the website, these extra bytes of data come at a cost to website page speeds.
Whereas combing through website code can be rather tedious and time-consuming, tools like Autoptimize streamline the minification process.
301 redirects have their time and place — whether it’s a matter of consolidating multiple related pieces of content to a single new page or moving your website from one domain to another. But alongside these necessary efforts, unnecessary redirects tend to accumulate in the background.
One example of this is redirect chains. Over the span of several months, it’s possible that more than one redirect can be implemented on a website page — perhaps as new content becomes available or a new SEO strategy is implemented. Multiple iterations between an initial URL and the destination URL can make it more difficult for search engines to crawl webpages, and leave people waiting longer for website pages to load.
Thanks to tools like ScreamingFrog, you can easily identify redirect chains on your website and update your 301 redirects to take out any unnecessary steps. ScreamingFrog can also help you determine if there are website redirects that don’t serve a purpose and eliminate them.
In an ideal world, users won’t just pay one visit to your website, but rather return to view the same or additional website pages to research your products/services, browse articles and more. And when these return visits happen, browsers can be configured to remember previously loaded resources — versus having to dynamically reload logos, footers, etc. each time.
Serving as a memory bank so to speak, browser caching increases website page speed as previously fetched responses can be utilized. In other words, fewer HTTP requests need to be made for pages to effectively load, as items are stored on the browser for a set period of time.
Tools like YSlow can tell you if an expiration date is defined for your cache. These expiration dates function as instructions for whether a browser should request files from a server, or rather pull it from the browser’s cache. In lieu of frequent design updates, website files can typically be cached for a year.
Investing time and effort into page speed performance is as important to the user experience as the design and content on your website. After all, if a webpage isn’t loading quickly enough, you might lose the interest of users and search engines before they can appreciate these elements.
While there are ample tools available to assist with these efforts, we recognize that many companies want the support of an agency to marry these user experience initiatives with other efforts. With in-house expertise that stretches from SEO and demand generation to content and design, Kuno Creative can assist you with every part of the user experience — and continue to provide guidance and support as search engine dynamics change and digital strategies evolve.
In line with this, Kuno Creative is currently working on a project to help clients understand the balancing act of website page speed. So if you choose to add a larger image to your webpage, as an example, you’ll have a clear understanding of what you’ll give up in website page speed.
Take a closer look at what it’s like to work with Kuno Creative.