How to Speed Up a Website to Improve Website SEO

How to Speed Up a Website to Improve Website SEO

We all know a good website performance is crucial when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). In fact, speed up a website can improve website SEO drastically and can be done easily without cashing out big cash.

A superb speed doesn’t only help you rank. But also helps you to capture more leads by making sure your users won’t leave the site before the site finish loading. In fact, according to GTmetrix, studies show that site users will not tolerate more than a 4 seconds load time.

13 Easy Steps to Speed Up a Website

The steps below not just introduced extra resources for the coding beginners but also provide awesome WordPress plugins for WordPress users.

1. Monitor Content Size

Content size isn’t just limited to the images and video but also HTML, CSS, and scripts. Large file size can increase the loading speed by having a ton of resources sent to users’ browser via HTTP requests.

Use free online website speed testing tools from Pingdom and GTmetrix to check out the content size and analyze how they affect the page load time. Keeping an eye on content size is probably the basic to speed up a website.

2. Clear Unused Files, Widgets, and Plugins

You don’t want your bandwidth to fill up with unnecessary files. Go through your website and see if there is anything that you don’t use anymore. Consider scraping it as they can slow down the loading speed.

If your widgets or plugins are interrupting the user experience on the site (making users hard to navigate around the website or blocking the content). Delete it as well, and find a better alternative (in terms of placement, content size, and ease-of-use by site users).

Update outdated content can improve website SEO but make sure to delete the outdated media file as well to increase the site performance.

WordPress users can easily delete their unused media files on their websites with Media Cleaner. But be sure to back up your files before you delete anything.

3. Make Use Of External Hosting Service

Use external hosting service to host content on your website, especially for content such as video. A single video might not be the end of your bandwidth. But how about one or two videos in each post/page?

Using third-party hosting services saves your bandwidth and load much faster since most of them are compressed for website optimization.

Some of the most popular video hosting services out there including Vimeo, Dailymotion and most importantly YouTube.

Or for those who are using WordPress, you can also open your editor, and click “+” underneath a paragraph and click the “Embeds” dropdown to find the video hosting service you want to embed from.

Another popular asset that is hosted on third parties is web font. Popular web font providers that allow users to embed fonts on websites are Google Fonts and Typekit Web Fonts.

Those who are using WordPress can use Google Fonts Typography plugin to add Google fonts on their websites easily.

4. Use Content Delivery Network (CDN)

One of the main reasons for the long loading time is the distance between users and web hosting servers. The longer the distance between servers and users, the more time to take to fetch the website’s file, resulting in slower loading speed.

However, this is not the case if you use CDN.

CDN is a geographically distributed group of servers that provide fast transfer of the website assets. CDN servers all around the world saved the cached version of the site content, enhancing the loading speed when the user visits the website via the CDN server.

(Left) Single server distribution (Right) CDN scheme of distribution
(Left) Single server distribution (Right) CDN scheme of distribution – Wikipedia

This means that users in Singapore can access the website hosted in the US via a nearby CDN server in a shorter time. This can drastically improve user experience (especially if you have international audiences) and indirectly boost the lead conversion rate.

One of the recommended CDN providers is Cloudflare which owns a free plan and comes in the form of a WordPress plugin. Now, just sit down and see the magic improve website SEO.

5. Minify CSS and Javascript

Minification of CSS and Javascript is a crucial step for most of the websites nowadays. Both CSS and Javascript usually contain unnecessary codes such as comments and extra spaces which increase the time to process by browsers.

The minified version of Javascript also uses a shorter version of the functions and variables’ names to decrease the file size. After the removal of unused code and replacing functions and variables’ names, you will notice that your websites will run faster than it used to be.

There’s a free online tool such as Minify that help you to minify Javascript and CSS code with ease. CDN providers such as Cloudflare also include CSS and Javascript minification.

If you are using WordPress then it might be better to use W3 Total Cache or other minify plugins to improve your site performance.

6. Use Gzip Compression

Using gzip compression is considered standard practice for providing a better website performance. Just like the name suggests, it compresses the file to decrease the file size for a shorter process time.

Not to be confused with minification of CSS and Javascript, gzip replace repeated data with pointers or references, whereas minification for CSS and Javascript are removing the white spaces and unused codes.

This eventually accelerates the website rendering speed. Enabling gzip on the website requires you to access the .htaccess file as shown in How To Enable Gzip Compression In WordPress Via .htaccess File by Eliran Quzan on hostadvice.

However, if your websites are built using WordPress, you can use plugins such as WP-Optimize to enable gzip compression without going through the code yourself. Website SEO improve like crazy after website speed increased.

7. Compress Images

If your webpage consists of tons of images, it’s best to compress your image for faster load time. Worry not about having low-quality 480p images afterward, as Kinsta provides a great guide on How to Optimize Images for Web and Performance by Brian Jackson.

For WordPress users, you can use Smush, which is a plugin that compresses, optimizes and lazy loads images.

8. Lazy Load Images

Lazy load is when the offscreen content won’t be loaded, not until it entered the users’ viewport that is when the users scroll down to the images. This means that page content won’t be rendered all at once, therefore speeding up the content showed to users.

This trick often used by image-heavy sites like Pixabay or by publishing sites such as Medium.

Lazy Loading Images – The Complete Guide by Rahul Nanwani in ImageKit and Tips for rolling your own lazy loading by Phil Hawksworth in CSS-Tricks offers awesome guides to lazy loading on websites.

Popular plugins that offer lazy load are Smush and Jetpack, which are highly popular among WordPress users.

9. Preloading Assets

Preloading allows you to load the important web assets early on. One of the most common preloaded assets is web font in order to show your content to your users as fast as possible.

The article, Web Font Optimization by Ilya Grigorik in Google explains how web font is loaded and how render-blocking in the rendering process can be reduced by using <link rel="preload"> .

Preloading content with rel=”preload” in MDN web docs Mozilla also gives you an overview and a brief introduction to preloading assets on the website. WP Rocket which is a caching plugin for WordPress can preload website assets for WordPress site.

10. Use Popular Fonts (Google Font API)

Google Fonts is one of the most popular websites which hosted thousands and thousands of free and beautiful fonts.

Due to its easy-to-use interface and dummy-proof link embed, many websites these days use fonts served by Google Fonts API.

If you are using Google Fonts by embedding the codes on your site, consider changing fonts to Open Sans and Roboto.

Since those are popular fonts, your users might visit sites that use the same fonts. The fonts later will be stored in the Google Fonts API.

So when the users visiting other sites with Open Sans and Roboto which also served by Google Font API, your browser will load the fonts from the browser cache, result in much faster loading speed.

For more info, check out Will web fonts slow down my page? in Frequently Asked Question in Google Fonts, Google Developer.

11. Web-Safe Fonts

Another option for faster font loading is to use the websafe font. Web-safe fonts are fonts that are available on most operating systems. For example, Arial, Time News Roman, Sans-serif and Serif.

Based on Case Study – Analyzing Web Font Performance by Brian Jackson on KeyCDN, Arial (Web-safe Font) has a shorter load time of 0.281s compared to Open Sans (Google Font) which is 0.476s.

However, font families such as Arial and Time News Roman are licensed. So, please aware that you need to buy the license in order to use it on your websites.

12. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Do you notice that certain sites will load way, WAY faster on mobile with a simpler design and a thin white bar at the top of the site? Or do you saw the thunder icon at the side of the Google search engine result?

AMP Basic Search Result - Google Search
AMP Basic Search Result – Google Search

AMP is all around these days. Websites especially news sites are hopping on the bandwagon of AMP because they know it will speed up their site like CRAZY.

In fact, AMP can make your website load up to 3 times faster than your normal mobile web page. According to the AMP official site, AMP increases mobile search users who return within 7 days.

Although you might need technical knowledge to build an AMP site, AMP provides a comprehensive guide to building an AMP page. WordPress users can use AMP for WP to set up AMP webpages for your websites.

13. Change Your Hosting Package/Company

This is a drastic measure. You need to change your hosting package or even hosting company if you think that the service fails you (and your site speed). The reasons may vary from the disk space to the quality of servers offered by the company.

In this case, you can either upgrade to a more expensive package with more bandwidth and premium extension. Or you can find other hosting companies that can fit your needs.

User-First

The idea of user-first is to put your users’ needs in front of everything else. And that “everything else” including social media buttons, CTA forms and other stuff your users don’t find particularly useful.

AMP site itself is an innovation of the user’s first design. However, since this section only dedicated to ways that prioritize the loading speed of the visual portion of the content (HTML and CSS) but would not improve the overall speed. Therefore, AMP is excluded.

Put Scripts at the Bottom

This method isn’t going to improve your loading speed or make an improvement on website SEO. But it does provide a faster loading speed for content.

Putting content and stylesheet at the front of the code ensures that the browser will load the content visually first instead of blank space because the browser’s loading the script.

WordPress users can easily do this by using the Scripts to Footer plugin.

Summary

It’s hard to rank on SERP but it’s isn’t impossible. Although improving website speed isn’t the main takeaway for the ranking, it should be taken seriously as well, to make sure that site users didn’t turn away due to the slow loading time.

All in all, to improve website SEO, quality content still the main factor contributing to the rank but website speed, however, should not be ignored.

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