In digital marketing, if your aim is to beat the slower competition and attract visitors, web page speed is a major concern. A slow website kills conversions and impacts search rankings. Page speed impacts how long your visitors stay on your site, how many of those visitors convert into paying customers, how much you pay on a CPC basis in paid search and where you rank in organic search.
According to Search Engine Watch, once you notice that your site is taking more than three seconds to load, it’s time to figure out the factors that are slowing down your website speed and improve the overall performance. Even low mobile page speed affects web traffic and search engine optimization. Earlier in January 2018, Google announced Google Speed Update, which affected the rankings of very slow mobile pages in the search results.
What affects your site’s page speed?
For those not using WordPress, Cache-Control and Entity tags (ETags) headers to HTTP response headers can help visitors avoid downloading the same files from the server twice and reducing the number of HTTP requests. ETag HTTP response header –
- allows caches to be more efficient and save bandwidth
- helps prevent simultaneous updates of a resource from overwriting each other
For WordPress sites, cache plugins offer better performance. Several caching plugins are available to help WordPress work more efficiently and thus improve the website speed. This plugin will create a static version of the content and remove many of the steps that take place when a page is generated dynamically, resulting in faster loading times and happier visitors.
Some such plugins are W3 Total Cache, WP Rocket, WP Super Cache, Hyper Cache and WP Fastest Cache.
Make sure to analyze your website using PageSpeed Insights. You can also implement your own content delivery network (CDN) to ensure visitors around the world have a much more accessible, fast experience.
OverUse of Plugins and Widgets
Attractive widgets and plugins used in the website to offer the audience more features can actually reduce the website speed. Each plugin you add requires resources to run the site. Too many plugins can also cause security issues.
Consider removing unnecessary plugins, as the more plugins and widgets you use on your site, the more time it takes to load all the required files. In such cases, always try to use recently updated quality plugins that come from reputable resources. In Drupal or Joomla, users can disable modules or add speed optimization extensions.
- Instead of social sharing plugins, consider embedding social media buttons into the source code.
- Avoid plugins that load a lot of scripts and a lot of styles.
Web pages with more complex images could lower conversion rates compared to those with fewer images. Images of large size and high-resolution and those that are uncompressed can significantly reduce the page load speed. Flash images and content can also slow your pages. HTML5 provides alternatives to replace your existing Flash content.
During the web designing stage itself, decide on an optimal width and height for image display on different end-user devices like desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone. Also, use standard formats like JPEG, GIF, and PNG that can compress images to take up a lesser number of bytes, thus reducing the size of the file. You can also consider new image formats like WebP and JPeg XR to reduce image weight without sacrificing image quality.
Hotlinking or images on your website that are hosted on a different server can also delay your page from loading. This means that some other site is using your server responses. This could slow down your server and trigger suspension of your hosting account. You can use .htaccess file to prevent hotlinking to websites.
Use of Chatbots
Most websites today have some kind of live chat or instant messaging option or pop-up chat once you enter the site. These chatbots are used for handling customer queries, instead of appointing real persons.
However, chatbots can directly or indirectly affect many factors such as website speed, site usability, user reviews/site reputation, bounce rate or dwell time that can impact a website’s performance and position in SERP. The chatbot script should be well implemented. To make the chatbot load asynchronously, make sure to use the correct code which enables this action.
Diverse tools are now available to check your website’s speed performance, such as Pingdom Tools, GTmetrix or Google’s own PageSpeed Tools. These tools can detect if there is a problem with a chatbot script and if it is causing a website to load more slowly. Google PageSpeed Insights examines the entire site and lists every issue affecting its loading speed. External servers can also be used to handle the working of the site’s chatbot.
Gravatar refers to “globally recognized avatar” and this allows platforms like WordPress and other web applications to display user profile photos. By default, WordPress uses Gravatar for displaying profile images and comments. With Gravatar, whenever you create a new account on a website you don’t have to upload a photo each time. But it can affect web page speed. Each time a visitor’s browser will have to load all of the associated Gravatar images from Gravatar’s external servers.
To help speed up Gravatar delivery, you can consider caching Gravatar images using plugins like FV Gravatar Cache.
Other options to improve web page speed are –
- Disable Gravatars in WordPress site
- Remove comments that are of no value or
- Reduce Gravatar image sizes
Other factors that may affect your site’s speed are – broken links, outdated CMS version, overloaded database and more. An experienced digital marketing agency in Long Island can take care of such issues and ensure your site a better performance.