It is said that ‘first impressions are last impressions’. The loading speed of a website is its first impression. A page speed can be perceived as either the ‘page load time’(time taken to load the entire page) or ‘time to first byte’(time taken by your browser to receive the first byte of data from the server). The loading speed of your website is the factor by which visitors, customers, and readers form an impression about your website.

The audience on the internet is impatient. They are looking for quick search results. Hence, they are not positively inclined towards slow loading pages.

Let us see how slow loading speeds impact a website.
A slow website frustrates the user. He/she drifts away from such websites. It leads to lower page views. This directly impacts the ad revenue and customer conversion while finally leads to lower rankings on search engines. Besides this search engines also consider the loading speed while ranking a page.

Demerits of slow loading speed:

1. High Bounce Rate
Visitors to a website do not wait for long for their web pages to load. It has been established that if a website takes more than 2s to load, the visitors move to other sites. Therefore loading speed is essential to retain visitors.

2. Bad User Experience
When a user visits a website, it is because he is looking for something. He wants information in quick time. Therefore you need to provide your users information related to the keyword fast. A slow loading webpage offers a bad user experience because the user has to wait for the page to load for relevant data.

3. Lowers Keyword Ranking
When loading speeds are high, the bounce rate increases. Visitors stray away from slow loading pages to faster loading ones. This results in a lower ranking of such pages by Google.

4. Lowers Page Authority and Domain Authority
Domain Authority is a metric developed by Moz that is used by Google to determine the search engine ranking of a website. Higher the DA, better the ranking. Domain Authority depends on the bounce rate. A high bounce rate lowers the Domain Authority of the page. Since pages with high loading speeds have a high bounce rate, it impacts the Domain Authority negatively.

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Page Authority describes the probability of a specific page from your site being found on search engines. It pertains to pages within the site and not the site itself. Since fast loading pages provide a better user experience, their bounce rate will be lower and they will rank higher in search engines.

Because of all these factors, it becomes essential to adopt measures to enhance the loading speed of your website.

How to increase the loading speed of websites?

There are numerous codes suggested on the internet for site optimization. However, based on my experience, I would suggest the following methods:

1. HTML should be verified on https://validator.w3.org
Validating a website enhances its quality besides successfully debugging it. This makes your website easy to load on most browsers with fast loading speeds.
The HTML code should be validated as per:

  • HTML5 standards
  • Structure
  • SEO tags alt, name

2. The image should be optimized
Using images indiscriminately without optimization also results in slow loading of websites.
The following tips are suggested for image optimization:

  • It is recommended that the size of the image should be minimized using GIF, PNG-8 or JPEG file formats.
  • Ensure that the size matches your application. You can set the size for each page with the height and width.
  • Do not scale images, especially from a larger to a smaller size.
  • For smaller dimensions, scale the image using image editing programs.
  • For optimum page loading speeds, images should meet the following criteria:
    • Maximum size 200kb
    • Stretching of images should be avoided.


3. Remove all unwanted files and folders from server

As we develop the website we create numerous files and folders. These files and folders lose their significance after some time. Hence it is a recommended to remove the unwanted files and folders from the server. This is because these serve as one of the main reasons for slow loading of websites.

4. Avoid the use of direct links like CSS, JS for images
Using direct links for images tends to confuse the browser which results in a lower speed.

5. Move all JS files header to footer and CSS files from footer to header
If JavaScripts and CSS files are kept external, the loading speed increases because JavaScript and CSS files are cached by the browser. However, if it is necessary to include them in the web page, the JavaScript should be kept at the bottom of the page and CSS at the top.

6. Use different CSS files, one for mobile view and one for desktop view
The criteria for loading of a website on a mobile and a desktop are different. Hence, do not try using the same file for mobile and desktop view. Different CSS files should be created for mobile and desktop views.

7. Remove query strings from the URL
Query strings prevent caching of static resources on browsers and proxy servers. Eliminating them from static resources such as CSS and JavaScript enables caching the static resources. This greatly increases the website loading speed.

8. Code should be structured as per language
Websites are developed using HTML, CSS, CorePHP, WordPress, Magento, Shopify, etc. Each language has its own set of guidelines for coding.The software should be developed according to the coding standards specified by the language.

9. Code reusability
Very often certain codes need to be repeated. The options available are to copy and paste the code or to keep rewriting it. It is recommended that the coding is done such that codes can be directly used to construct other programs. This enhances the quality of the software and efficiency of the software industry. For example, some languages have software libraries from where codes can be reused.

0. Development mode off when the site goes live
It is recommended to keep the development mode off when the site goes live. If it is left on it increases the server response time. An error log should be created so that all the errors get recorded there. In the absence of the error log, the errors appear on the live site as an error, warning, fatal error, etc. leading to lower loading speeds.

Conclusion:

As you can see there are various strategies you can adopt to enhance the loading speed of your website. Some of these methods are simple to implement while others may be time-consuming. However, in order to retain your audience, you will need to take the necessary steps to improve the loading speed of your website.