One of the most important things to consider when you’re trying to gain and retain new viewers is to greatly “decrease page load time”. You can write the best content available on your niche, but if your site takes forever to load you’ll never attain the possible readership you could have if you had a faster loading website. Readers are impatient. You know this to be true as you likely fall into this same category. How quickly do you click away from a page if it takes too long to load? Go ahead I’ll wait.
Long load times = higher bounce rates. You need to deliver your content as quickly as possible or viewers will go on to the next result. In this post, I’ll outline 10 things you can do to decrease your page load times. Just watch your Google Analytics after you apply these tips and see how effective making your page load impacts your traffic numbers. Not only will they go up, but Google will hold you in higher standings than it once did. So pay attention.
Leverage browser caching to Decrease Page Load
Caching page content means your pages load faster for return visitors. Once content is loaded once it doesn’t need to be loaded additional times. Caching content on a users machine; especially a return user will greatly decrease page load times.
If you’re using WordPress a great plugin for caching content is W3 Total Cache. Total cache will immediately decrease page load times while it begins caching content and images. This is a first step in page size reduction. Total cache also uses a CDN or content delivery network which greatly reduces page size through a globally distributed network of servers whose purpose is to provide quicker delivery, and highly available content. Content is replicated in many places at once in order to be easily available.
Set Expires or ETags
Etags can be set once again in your .htaccess. This tells browsers how long your content should be cached. This is a good tip for return visitors. It will save your content in their cache for a limited amount of time so as not to completely fill their cache while making your site load faster by saving downloaded information locally.
## EXPIRES CACHING ##
ExpiresByType image/jpg "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/gif "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/png "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType text/css "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType text/html "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/pdf "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType image/x-icon "access 1 year"
ExpiresDefault "access 1 month"
## EXPIRES CACHING ##
Minimizing redirects from other urls helps increase speed by limiting additional RTTs (round trip times). Eliminating unnecessary HTTP requests means resources will be available to load other content. When at all possible it’s a good idea to eliminate resources from other websites that slow your down. Every time your website has to access another it needs time to locate and download the content your connecting to. This time slows your site down and makes people impatient.
Optimize the order of styles and scripts to Decrease Page Load
Combine Multiple CSS to Decrease Page Load
Multiple style sheets is a good way to keep styles separated and can make for easier editing, but whenever possible it’s a good idea to combine multiple style sheets into one. This will reduce additional page look-ups resulting in less calls being generated by your site. I understand a huge stylesheet can make it harder to locate styles and edit, but whenever possible this is a good way to decrease page load.
Optimize images to Decrease Page Load
This one seems like a no-brainer, but maybe not. If you have large images on your site it takes longer for these to download. Optimizing images as much as possible in Photoshop is something you should be doing from the get go, but what if you didn’t? What if you didn’t and you already have a website that has hundreds of pages and posts? This is where an image optimizing program can be implemented.
There are a lot of image optimizing programs available for download. I prefer EWWW Image Optimizer.It’s an affordable service for reducing image file sizes. EWWW gives you 400 free optimized images from the get go. A try before you buy scenario. It’s fairly inexpensive and has an easy to use interface that will optimize everything on your blog.
The bulk optimization feature will pick up where it left off if you should want to stop it. The panel will even show you how much your images have been reduced by if your a geek like me and interested in that kind of thing.
Minification is the process of of removing all any unnecessary characters and white spaces from code while not affecting the operation of your coding efforts. It condenses your code from 10-90% depending on the site.
Enable gzip compression Reduces Page Load
If you have access to your .htaccess file a good way to decrease page load is to enable GZIP compression. GZIP compression can reduce file sizes by up to 70%. Therefore, it’s easy to understand why enabling GZIP compression option is a good idea if you want your page to load faster.
Adding the following code to your .htaccess file located in the root of your website will enable compression. Copy and paste the code below to your .htaccess file to implement GZIP compression on your website.
mod_gzip_item_include file .(html?|txt|css|js|php|pl)$
mod_gzip_item_include handler ^cgi-script$
mod_gzip_item_include mime ^text/.*
mod_gzip_item_exclude mime ^image/.*
mod_gzip_item_exclude rspheader ^Content-Encoding:.*gzip.*
The following link will help you test your newly added compression option. This GZIP compression tool will let you know if your using the proper compression.
Test Your Page Speed with GtMetrix
Use GtMetrix to test the speed of your website. GtMetrix does a deep dig of your site and tells you where you need page speed improvements. Get started with the GtMetrix Speed tool to test your site right now.