So you’ve put a load of effort into creating a flawless construction website design – you’ve nailed your push and pull tactics, created invaluable case study content, but did you know that all of your hard efforts to draw prospects into your business could be going to waste? You could be losing website traffic by the minute.`
One word: speed.
According to Google, 53% of mobile site visits leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. This means you may not not only be losing your current visitors and decreasing conversion rates, but could also be risking a loss of traffic to your website from those customers who have referred your services to others.
In response to this growing demand for fast speed and instant results, Google have introduced a new Algorithm update, which will be implemented as of July 2018. You can read an overview of what this means in more detail here.
This post as a follow-on, offers several considerations for optimising your website for the best possible performance. As the Algorithm update will mainly impact mobile optimisation, these tips will help you to cover site speed across both desktop and mobile.
1. Minimise HTTP Requests
You may be sat there thinking “I’ve heard this term before, but what does it actually mean?” To put it simply, whenever your browser fetches either a file, page, or picture from any website server, this is called a ‘HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) request’. This process takes up the majority of loading time when users are searching online – so the more you need to load, the longer the page needs to retrieve it. If your website and page speed is currently underperforming, this is where your focus should lie.
Decrease the amount of HTTP requests required by discussing the following with your website developers…
• Use queries to only load what’s needed – Do you actually need that image to display on mobile the same way it does on desktop? Is that video only compatible on certain devices? This is your opportunity to assess the mobile version of your website and create a minimalist version with a faster load time. You can start by using conditional statements to run specific scripts on mobile only – so that you aren’t forcing the browser to load information on a mobile device that isn’t necessary. This is particularly important for the new mobile speed algorithm update.
• Reduce the number of images you use – This is a very common issue, and one which will be explained in the next recommendation. If you find some of your pages are fairly image-heavy, try removing some or reducing the file size. This may not only help reduce image HTTP requests but will also improve the user experience in its entirety. Is the image helping to support and enhance the content you’ve provided? If the answer is no, then get rid.
2. Optimise & compress image files
Images take up a considerable amount of loading time per page, particularly if these are larger than they should be and have not been compressed for the web. We all know how tempting it may be to download images directly from stock photo sites and simply upload them straight to the CMS.
Now is the time to break this habit.
You can easily reduce the size and quality of images in programs like Photoshop; make sure to then save the image under ‘save for web’.
If you do find yourself using larger images, especially for hero images, you can run these through optimisation software like Compressor.io
Shutterstock also mention the following as a guide for choosing the right file extensions:
• JPG – ideal for online-only images and designs; best for high quality raster images
• PNG – used for images where transparent backgrounds are required
• TIFF – where high levels of detail are required; ideal for print but very large for website loading
3. Integrate AMP
Highly encouraged by those in the SEO industry, AMP (short for accelerated mobile pages) helps to assist and improve overall page performance by allowing you to create stripped-down versions of your posts and pages for mobile visitors. If you’re using a CMS such as wordpress, this is fairly simple to implement. Download the AMP plugin and you’ll be able to see the changes in viewability and load speed. If you want to learn a little more about AMP and whether it’s right for you, read this blog post.
4. CDN’s and unused scripts
Hosting your media files on a ‘content delivery network’ is one of the best ways to speed up your site, and can often save up to 60% bandwidth and halve the number of requests your website makes.
CDN’s work by hosting your files across a large network of servers around the World. When a user visits your site from America, for example, they are downloading files from the server that is closest to them. Because the bandwidth is spread across so many different servers, it reduces the load on any single server and also protects your sites from DDoS attacks and traffic spikes.
Ultimately, they help to reduce the amount of data that’s transferred by reducing file sizes, using tactics such as minification and file compression. CDN’s also speed up sites using TLS/SSL certificates.
5. Improve server response time
GTMetrix is a great tool to help you improve user response time, which is affected by a variety of factors including the level of traffic received to your website and the amount of resources required on each page. GTMetrix will help you to analyse what may be slowing the response time down – such as slow routing or inadequate memory. Moz recommends that the optimal server response time is under 200ms.
6. Browser Caching
Browsers are designed to cache a lot of information – such as images and stylesheets in order to prevent having to reload an entire page once a returning visitor comes back to your website. Ensure you’ve set a reasonable expiration date for how long this information is cached for to improve page speed in the long run; the recommended amount of time is a year. Tools like Yslow allow you to set your expiration header if you don’t already have one in place.
7. Reduce redirects
Redirects – we all have a heap of them on our websites – but every time we add another one, your visitor faces a longer response time for the page to load. This is because your adding an another attribute to the HTTP-request cycle, meaning it requires more time to complete. Because of this, try to only add redirections, particular 301 redirects, only when absolutely necessary.
Site Speed Tools to implement
We recommend taking the time to evaluate the speed of your website both on mobile and desktop, before looking any further into the above recommendations.
- Pagespeed Insights is highly recommended for analysing overall performance; the programme tests just how slow your web pages are and gives you a quantifiable score for the performance of each page.
- Lighthouse is another useful tool that performs an in-depth audit of your website, so you can identify exactly where improvements need to be made and how you should approach these.
- TestMySite, in line with the new algorithm update, will help you to identify areas where you can improve your mobile page speed specifically.
Looking to boost your online ranking and improve your website’s mobile speed and functionality? Our team of SEO and website development experts are on hand to ensure you have everything you need to achieve your business goals. Get in touch today for a chat about what we can do for you, or give us a call on 01908 671707.