Six Website Optimization Techniques for Performance Improvement

There’s a statistic about the human attention span being shorter than that of a goldfish, especially when it comes to the internet browsing habits. This means that if your website takes just a couple of seconds longer to respond, you may lose a massive chunk of your audience. In fact, about 25 percent of your entire audience may leave if your website fails to load within 4 seconds. This increases your bounce rate, reduces user experience and, ultimately, ruins your search engine rank. In order to improve your website, you need to start working on your performance. Here are some suggestions on where to start.

Move to a better host

One of the most obvious tips that you should consider is switching to a better host. Generally speaking, there are three types of hosting – shared hosting, virtual private servers (VPS), and dedicated servers. Out of the three, shared hosting is the most popular, the most frugal, and definitely the most ineffective of the three. Sure, it’s great for hosting a website on a budget but if you have a performance in mind, you should probably choose one of the other two types. A dedicated server is the most efficient and the most expensive option. The middle ground provided by VPS is probably your best bet.

As for finding the right host, you can start by doing some research among current and previous users. Second, you need to figure out the amount of hand-holding that you require (this is often determined by your own experience level), as well as researching the server types. Before selecting which hosting option is right for you, you’ll need figure out your own requirements or needs. The amount of traffic that you expect is a major factor when choosing a host.

Reduce the number of HTTP requests

Every element of your website requires an HTTP request, the more there are, the longer it will take for all of them to respond. This increases the loading time of your website. The simplest way of speeding up your website is to try and take a minimalist approach. Reducing HTTP requests and maximizing the use of white space in your page design is not only good for performance improvement but also makes your website more aesthetic and increases the readability of your content.

This performance-enhancement technique can also lead to an increase in your conversion rate. One study shows that people are less likely to make a decision when they have too many choices offered. The study in question used two groups, first of which was asked to make a choice between 6 varieties of jam, while the second group was to choose between 24 varieties. Test subjects from the first group were 10 times more likely to make a decision on the spot. Less choices means less confusion and more conversion.

On-site optimization

Not all of your audience is human. Your website is also visited by programs called crawlers. These bots are responsible for indexing your website and helping search engines assign it a certain rank. The problem, however, lies in the fact that a lot of people assume that what appeals to the human audience also applies to these bots. According to expert digital marketers behind GWM, you need a special type of on-site SEO optimization in order to appeal to both.

Optimization techniques like keywords may not affect the speed of your page load times, but others like page URL structure, mobile-friendliness and link-use do. You need to check all links frequently to make sure they’re functional (which changes over the course of time). Otherwise, you could end up with dead links, which will have a negative impact on your page rank.

Minimize the number of plugins

Plugins are pieces of third-party software that are used to enhance a website in one of two ways – by sharpening its performance or by adding another function to it. While both are essential in your overall strategy, you don’t want to overuse them. Every plugin draws on your resources. Therefore, you might want to try prioritizing a bit. Start by making a list of plugins that your website absolutely requires and then try and figure out if there are some that you don’t really need. Deciding between “I want” and “I need” makes all the difference.

The safest way to address this issue is to run performance tests on your website. You can either go with A/B testing or compare the metrics of your website’s performance before the installation of the plugin against the performance after you’ve installed it. This way, you will see exactly what the impact of adding each plugin is. It will also help you figure out which of these plugins are unnecessary.

Website caching is your safest bet

The simplest way to just outright improve the speed of your website is using website caching. This is a simple process of storing the version of your website and presenting it to the visitors right away until the website is updated. This can buy you several seconds, which, given the fact that an average visitor has an attention span between 2 and 9 seconds, may make all the difference in the world. This also allows you to avoid rendering for each individual user, seeing as how a web page that is cached, it doesn’t need to send a request every single time.

Other than just a faster delivery of web objects to the end-user, there are other perks to web caching. For starters, there’s the reduction of bandwidth needs, which is a direct improvement to your logistical decision-making process. While discussing the hosting, we’ve talked about expense as a major factor. Well, with a lower bandwidth need, you can achieve the same effect with less cost.

Optimize images

Finally, you need to make sure that all the images you upload are in the proper format and are the correct resolution. This is called image optimization which you can fully automate with the right tools. Other ways you can optimize your images is by naming them descriptively and choosing dimensions according to your website layout.

Also, the smaller the image size, the faster it will upload, but keep in mind, reducing the size too much will reduce its quality. This can result in user experience problems, even if it’s not a direct performance issue. Lastly, you should choose the right file type, either JPEG, PNG or GIF.

In conclusion

Each of the above-listed tips can also be considered a quality of life improvement. It makes the overall experience of your website more pleasant, it helps you gain rank and traffic, as well as allows you to improve the first impression you make on the potential clients. In addition, all of the above-listed suggestions are incredibly easy to implement. In fact, some of them, like switching to a new host, is something that you probably only have to do once. All in all, the sooner you start, the better.

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