SMALL BUSINESS TIP #13: How to Speed Up Your Website (for the Technically Challenged)

By Published On: August 30th, 2020Categories: SEO, Tips

Even if you feel technically challenged, there are some things you can do to speed up your website. After reading this guide, you will definitely have a better understanding as to why you should make this a top priority—whether you do it yourself or delegate it to others!

Did you know there are nearly two billion websites on the world wide web with over four billion internet users? That is a lot of competition!

While not all those websites are your direct competitors, you need every advantage when it comes to getting eyes on your website. But, how do you do this?

There are several ways to optimize your website, including keywording every page and post, but there is one way that many website owners miss—website speed.

If your site doesn’t load fast, you are losing potential clients and conversions, as a result of both a downgraded Google ranking and impatient visitors who don’t want to wait for the screen to fully refresh.

Before we start talking about how you can speed up your website, let’s look at why website speed is important.

The Importance of Website Speed

According to research from Google, if your website takes between 1-3 seconds to load, your “bounce rate” increases 32%.

(Bounce rate is the term that describes when someone leaves your site without taking any meaningful action.)

Do you sell products or services from your site? If so, bounce rate (AKA page abandonment) hurts your bottom line.

When Google crawls your site, one of the things it tests is your website speed. The faster and more responsive your site, the higher it ranks with Google (and other search engines) in organic searches.

A slow website equates with underperformance—and 40% of your potential customers will abandon your site if it takes longer than three seconds to load.

With more than 80% of Americans using smartphones, it’s crucial your site is mobile responsive. It can’t just load fast on a desktop, it must load fast and look great on a smartphone and tablet, too.

A fast website isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.


RELATED | SMALL BUSINESS TIP #1: The Google Mobile Friendly Test


Test Your Website Speed with GTMetrix | SCRIBACEOUS.COM

How To Test Your Website Speed

Go to this website—GTMetrix—and type in your URL (website address) for some feedback about your website’s loading speed.

Just focus on the basics so your head doesn’t start spinning! And, don’t forget to re-check it after you and/or your website designer have worked on speeding it up.

What You Can Do to Speed Up Your Website

Even if you’re not a technical person, there are still some things you can do to speed up your website. Here are three:

1. Your Website Host

Website speed starts with your website hosting plan. Here are the three main levels:

  • Shared Hosting (Shared Server)—This is the most basic level of hosting and the one that is almost always represented by the lowest pricing flashing on a website host’s website. It’s the least robust as your website will be one of numerous sites sharing the resources of a single server. It’s like a dormitory room in a hostel—at times crowded and usually a bit noisy. If your website has very low traffic or it’s a simple WordPress blog, this is the best option.
  • VPS Hosting (Virtual Private Server)—This is the next level up from shared hosting and can make a big difference in website speed. Simply put, it appears (virtually) as though you’re running your own server even though your sharing it. Although you’re sharing resources, you’re sharing it with fewer websites. ***
  • Dedicated Hosting—With dedicated hosting, you are paying (a lot) for your own server. Sometimes, these services are tiered based on how powerful your server will be and whether the web host will be managing the service or you manage it in-house.

I generally recommend VPS hosting for my clients who have heftier websites with a moderate to heavy amount of traffic and SEO as a priority.

*** We offer affordable VPS hosting (and hosting customer service!) in-house to eliminate one hassle of having a small business website. Contact us for more info!

Another important aspect of your website hosting is the PHP version installed on the server.

PHP is the coding language that WordPress is built on and the version is set at the server-level by your hosting company. The most current version at the time this post was published was Version 7.4.

Your website will be up to three to four times faster (depending on which older version you’re updating from) as the latest version of PHP is always more efficient. (It will also be significantly more secure.)

Many website hosts make very little effort to inform their customers of the need to update their PHP—or that important email they sent regarding the update was missed.

Once you decide which hosting plan you’ll be purchasing, ask your website host which version of PHP is installed on the server and check on this once to twice a year.

2. Minimize Plugins

If your website lives on the WordPress platform, plugins and add-ons can drastically slow your website loading speed so you don’t want to add a bunch or your site will suffer.

It’s the quality of the plugins and add-ons that matter more than the sheer number. If you have 20 quality plugins, your site may load faster than a site with 10 bad plugins.

This is why I always recommend that you consult your website designer who knows the best plugins to use.

JetPack is a popular WordPress plugin with lots of cool features that many non-techy people love.

The downside? The basic installation activates over 20 separate modules!

If you’re tempted to go with JetPack, just make sure you know which features you really need and make sure to turn the others off. If you’re only using a few features, consider a couple of other quality plugins instead.

3. Reduce Image Size

Have you ever landed on a website only to sit and wait while a photo slowly loads? This happens when an image file is too large.

It’s frustrating and annoying and most people won’t bother waiting, resulting in an increased bounce rate that tells Google they shouldn’t send more people your way.

Most non-techy people simply upload an image they have taken, downloaded from the internet (see the related post below regarding downloading images legally from the internet!) or purchased without a second thought.

What they don’t realize is that these files are usually too large and are actually hurting their website!

One of the most popular and easy image formats is JPEG/JPG. This is a high quality format that works for complex images due to its large color palette. Be wary of both PNGs and GIFs because the file size gets huge in a hurry.


RELATED | SMALL BUSINESS TIP #12: How to Legally Use Free Blog Images


You can easily resize and compress your images and make them smaller without a noticeable difference in quality.

But, beware of making them too small or they’ll be tiny, blurry and very unattractive!

The rule of thumb is that your images should be just under 100kb in size.

This size will not be possible for full site width banners—they will look too blurry. For these, you will have to play around to find that sweet spot between size and clarity.

There are many ways to resize and compress your images. In this post, I’m sticking with the simplest way, because I’m a huge fan of simple!

My favorite website to optimize website images quickly is ReduceImages.com.

Here are steps I take to resize and compress an image:

  1. Click on the Select Image button to upload your image
  2. Click on the “Percent” drop down menu and choose “Pixels.” For standard blog images, I resize my images to 800px wide.
  3. Click on “Resize” and see what the file size is—if it’s more than 100kb, reduce the image quality percentage until it’s just under 100kb.
  4. Click on the download arrow to the right of the file size.
  5. When you’re saving your image, don’t use the default image name from the camera or downloaded file; rename it using your keywords to help your SEO!

Resize Images Online with ReduceImages.com | SCRIBACEOUS.COM

Here are some other image compression services if you want to test out a few:

Also, graphic design websites like PicMonkey and Canva have this feature built in.

What to Discuss With Your Website Designer

Most small business owners aren’t web designers or developers and anything beyond resizing images and minimizing plugins can get confusing, so a good (and friendly) website designer is worth their weight in gold!

Here are some things to ask your web designer about when it comes to loading time for your website:

1. Your Website Theme

A website theme is the design template that is used to build and design your website. Think of WordPress as the engine and your theme as the make and model of your car.

The specific theme is extremely important because it impacts almost every aspect of your site, including the loading speed.


RELATED | How to Choose the Best WordPress Theme for your Business Website


Beware of themes with poor coding and too many complexities as they will slow your site down without adding much to the user experience.

But, speed is not the only consideration when choosing a theme, so discuss this topic with your designer so you thoroughly understand their choice of themes.

I exclusively use the Avada WordPress theme. It is not the fastest, but it is one of the very best with more than 600,000+ websites to its name.

But, we can make it faster. Because speed isn’t a priority to every website owner, we include Basic Speed Optimization in our SEO package.

2. Reduce Clutter

Work with your designer to keep your website pages, particularly your home page, clutter-free. Don’t over-use images, buttons, or other features that take precious loading time.

Remember the last time you went to a homepage and played whack-a-mole closing pop-up boxes as the page loaded? It’s likely that it took longer to load, was extremely annoying, and you didn’t stick around very long.

Not only is a minimalist design pleasing to the eye, it loads faster, so resist adding things yourself after the designer has done their job.

3. Other Techy Stuff

If speeding up your website is a top priority, here are several other things to ask your website designer to do once the design phase is done:

  • Limiting HTTP requests
  • Enabling HTTP compressions
  • Asynchronous loading for CSS and JavaScript
  • Enabling HTTP Keep-Alive
  • Limiting external requests
  • Preventing others from hot-linking your images

Your website designer should know what all this means! Letting them know you know something about website speed will ensure they take it seriously and that you’re both on the same page.

Don’t Frustrate Your Website Visitors!

So, now you know that website speed is important, not only to retain visitors on your site but also for ranking higher in Google (and other search engines).

In short, you want to be sure and do the following:

  • Invest in VPS hosting
  • Optimize your images
  • Limit the amount and type of plugins
  • Use a high quality WordPress theme
  • Keep it simple
  • Work with a good website designer

A faster loading site will reduce your bounce rate and encourage visitors to engage more, which helps convert them into buyers!

We have recently added a website speed specialist to our team—it took awhile to find someone who only does speed optimization, so we can get blazing results. Our test case was our very own website—and we were blown away by his results!

Drag the bar on the image below to see the improvement from the Before GT Metrix test (on the left) and the After (on the right):

Website Speed Optimization Before and After | SCRIBACEOUS.COMWebsite Speed Optimization Before and After | SCRIBACEOUS.COM

Three Quick Actions

  1. Take a minute and check out the resources mentioned in this post below.
  2. To get more small business tips like this in your inbox once a month, sign up for our newsletter below (don’t worry about spam…we hate it, too).
  3. When you’re ready to invest in speeding up your site for better SEO, click on the button below and let’s have a phone call!

Website Speed Resources:

Let’s Chat!

We may receive commissions when you click the links on this page and make a purchase. However, this is not why we include them here. We truly believe these service providers will help you and your business!

Arrow Separator Transparent
Janet Doré, CEO (Chief Everything Officer) | Your Resource for Small Business Services | SCRIBACEOUS.COM
Contact

Scribaceous, Inc. provides virtual assistant, graphic design, website design and webmaster services to small business owners throughout the world.

We’re here to help bring balance to your life and success to your business through quality work, reliable assistance, and creative thinking.

Janet Doré is the CEO (Chief Everything Officer) of Scribaceous, Inc., and has been passionately supporting her clients since 2013. Learn more about her here and connect with her on Linkedin and Facebook!

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

Leave A Comment