Since the rollout of Google’s Core Web Vitals, webmasters have been focused on creating a stellar User Experience (UX). And...
Website Speed Optimization: 13 Techniques and Tools You Absolutely Need
It is a highly important practice, as a website’s performance can directly affect many areas important for business, such as conversion and bounce rates, customer retention, and even the reputation of your brand.
To put it bluntly, having the best-looking website on the Internet won’t matter if no one sees it. Unless your site loads quickly, most users will lose their patience and flock to your competitor instead.
There are multiple strategies and tools you can use to improve the overall speed and performance of your website. Further down in this article, we will describe 13 best website speed optimization techniques that can help you. But first, let’s take a look at why website speed optimization is so important.
In this article:
- Why is Website Speed Optimization so important?
- Tools for measuring Website Speed
- 13 best Website Speed Optimization techniques
- Use server-side HTML caching
- Inspect and optimize resource requests
- Optimize image size and resolution
- Lazy load your images
- Inline CSS to speed up the rendering process
- Reduce the amount of external resources
- Use a CDN
- Choose an established and efficient hosting service
- Reduce the number of fonts and load them locally or via a CDN
- Compress your resources
- Avoid redirects and decide on a URL structure
- Decrease the number of plugins and third-party tools
Why is Website Speed Optimization so important?
Research shows that when accessing a website, most users will wait no more than 2 seconds for it to load. If it takes longer than that, they are likely to leave without ever knowing what the site has to offer. Fast loading speeds are therefore crucial for retaining customers and building customer bases.
But it doesn’t stop there. Website speed is also one of the most important factors search engines like Google consider when composing their search result pages. So the slower your website, the harder it is to find organically.
Neglecting website speed optimization, then, is a surefire way to fail.
Tools for measuring Website Speed
Not sure if you need website speed optimization? Or maybe you’ve already started tweaking and want to see if it’s making a difference?
To measure the speed of your website, you can try the following options:
# Checking overall performance with PageSpeed Insights
PageSpeed Insights is a free-to-use tool from Google that tests the performance of your website and gives you recommendations on how to improve it. It also evaluates your Core Web Vitals to see what areas need improvement. You can use it for mobile and desktop performance testing.
# Measuring server response time
To see how quickly your server responds to a request, you can use Bitcatcha, which is a free tool that lets you test your server’s response time from eight different locations globally.
# Reviewing both with Google Search Console
If you have access to Google Search Console, you can check the Core Web Vitals for specific pages of your website. Additionally there’s the Crawl Stats tab where you can find the Average Response Time graph.
The value of website speed optimization is indisputable. Users have zero tolerance for slow loading websites, and an extra second can mean lost business. That’s why we put particular emphasis on speed optimization during our web development process. CEO, ASPER BROTHERS Let's Talk
13 best Website Speed Optimization techniques
Now that we know what website speed optimization is and why it is so important, we can talk about how it’s done. In our list below, you will find 13 website speed optimization techniques that we consider essential to improving any site’s performance.
#1 Use server-side HTML caching
Pre-rendering and caching HTML on the host server allows for building the site only after the user accesses it. This helps reduce load times and latency by eliminating the need for the server to completely rebuild the HTML each time there’s a new visit.
#2 Inspect and optimize resource requests
This technique involves auditing the loading times of all critical resources. You should identify which resources slow down your website and what needs fixing, improving, or reducing. The best way to inspect and optimize your resource requests is by using Chrome Dev Tools.
#3 Optimize image size and resolution
There are several ways of optimizing the size and resolution of images:
- Adjusting image dimensions to viewports involves scaling the image proportionally to the user’s viewport. This can be done with CSS which then instructs the browser to adjust the width and height of the image automatically, depending on the user’s personal settings.
- Applying srcset tags to images. Srcset tags are attributes that contain a filepath to the displayed image along with its size settings. Although not all browsers support srcset tags, you can specify a default image source so that your images load anyway.
- Compression allows you to save file size and reduce loading times of your assets. There are multiple tools you can use for compressing images, such as ImageOptim and TinyPG. You can also always use the WebP format, which allows you to implement both lossless and lossy compression for your images without using additional tools.
- Tools to automate image optimization. There are many APIs and SaaS applications dedicated to streamlining the image optimization process, such as imgix or imagify.
#4 Lazy load your images
This technique allows you to delay loading images on your site. Specifically, lazy loading allows for loading images just as they enter the viewport, rather than up front. However, it’s important that you don’t apply lazy loading for above-the-fold images, so that customers can see the first image as soon as they enter.
#5 Inline CSS to speed up the rendering process
Inlining CSS means injecting your CSS elements into the HTML code. This way, the CSS is loaded into the <head> tag of your site’s HTML, which is a faster and more efficient alternative to having visitors download CSS files separately from the server.
Inlining CSS significantly speeds up the rendering process. It’s especially important to inline the CSS within your above-the-fold content, as it’s critical to your Core Web Vitals.
#6 Reduce the amount of external resources
#8 Use a CDN
A content delivery network, or CDN, is a network of globally distributed web servers that delivers your website’s content to users. By selecting the server closest to the user, a CDN accelerates website rendering and mitigates latency issues. To further optimize loading speed, set the primary server in the region that generates the most traffic.
#9 Choose an established and efficient hosting service
To ensure fast load times, you should make sure to choose an established and reliable hosting service. It’s important for them to provide stable performance, high bandwidth, enough storage, and a minimum 99% uptime guarantee. In addition, your provider should support the latest versions of programming languages, libraries, and frameworks that you use.
#10 Reduce the number of fonts and load them locally or via a CDN
To make sure your content is unique and attention-grabbing, it’s crucial to pick a good font. However, fonts can also significantly hinder your website speed, which is why it is recommended that you use as few fonts as possible and select only those that don’t use unique character sets. Also, be sure to load them locally or via a CDN.
#11 Compress your resources
In general, the smaller your files are, the faster your site will load. If your files are too big, it’s a good idea to try using compression tools to reduce their size without losing their quality. A good example of such software would be Gzip. By enabling its compression on your servers, you can reduce the size of HTTP responses, save bandwidth, and further improve the performance of your site.
#12 Avoid redirects and decide on a URL structure
Redirects (such as 301) should only be used when absolutely necessary, as each one generates an extra HTTP request.
Because redirects directly translate to longer load times, you should always make sure that your internal links are in the target format.
To catch all unnecessary redirects, you can run a site scan which will provide you with a full list of them. There are plenty of tools you can use for performing a site scan, with Screaming Frog being one of the most common. The practice of reducing the number of redirects is also important for optimizing your crawl budget.
#13 Decrease the number of plugins and third-party tools
Add-ons and extensions provide many helpful features that make managing your website easier. However, they usually also put additional strain on your server which negatively affects the TTFB parameter. A performance test can help you check for plugins that are slowing down your website. Deleting unused and low-quality plugins is a must, and it’s always a good idea to update those that you’ve left.
It’s important to understand that your website speed will directly affect your incoming traffic. Long loading times can hinder customer retention, engagement, and satisfaction, resulting in higher bounce rates and loss of potential revenue. If you want to avoid that, identifying and addressing all factors that may impact website speed is crucial.
The 13 website speed optimization techniques we have highlighted in this article can serve as a guide for creating an effective website speed optimization strategy.
Getting your load time down to the recommended range of 0.3 to 2 seconds will not only improve your user experience, but also help your search engine rankings.
This, in turn, will make it easier for potential customers to find you on Google.
Crawl budget dictates the number of website’s pages that search engines can check within a given time. Although it’s...