In addition, when dealing with load time milliseconds are important. Firstly because Internet users are notoriously impatient and will not wait around for a slow website and even a couple of milliseconds will subconciously deter a user from staying on your site.
Secondly, it is a known fact that the search engines, in particular Google, take speed into consideration when ranking sites using their algorithm. Of course the speed element may be a small factor compared to some others, but it is definitely a factor – probably because of the same reasons that we mentioned previously and the fact that Google also appreciates how annoying it can be to visit a slow website.
So How to Speed up your website?
There are many ways in which you can speed up your website to improve the experience of your visitors and help your site to rank in the search engines. We will be covering some of the key factors that can help to increase site speed in this article.
One of the most common reasons for a slow website load time are the size of the images that are included on any particular page. Many web masters will upload images without first optimizing them for the web and this means images that are larger than they need to be and that means slower load times for the website users.
Firstly images can be resized so that they are only as large in terms of resolution as they need to be – if you have a right aligned image that displays on the site at 300px squared then the original should also be reduced to that size.
Secondly, images should be optimized in terms of format (PNG is good for the web) and also amount of colors and compression ratio. In most image editors you can achieve these steps quite easily and will see a visual reduction in the images file size after doing so.
Another common issue in terms of website load time is the amount of includes that you have on a website, especially if those includes reference external addresses. Having many includes (such as stylesheets) on a website will decrease load time and in fact many small includes slow down the load time more than fewer large includes.
All of the includes that load with your site should be assessed and removed unless they are key to the website – often includes are left in the code when actually they are no longer needed.
Tidying up plugins
As a webmaster, if you use one of the popular CMS such as WordPress then you probably have several themes and plugins installed with your site – these should be kept to a minimum and any plugins that are not being used should be uninstalled – this effort can often increase load time substantially.
Purchase fast hosting
There are many factors at play here including the location of your hosting providers servers in relation to the majority of your visitors, the specification and power of your hosts physical web servers and also the speed of your hosts Internet connection.
NCM online have a great comparison of hosting providers in terms of speed and actually have a ranking system so that you can see who is the fastest host. More information can be found here.