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A fast application is absolutely mandatory
Traffic to this site, Growth Marketing Pro has doubled every 3 months for the last 18 months.
But recently, I noticed our site PageSpeed score was relatively low.
PageSpeed is a Google-sponsored website that allows you to input a web URL and gauge the load time of your site (or any site on the internet). This is our PageSpeed score as of writing this.
Why is site speed so important?
In the age of instant gratification, internet users take the expression quite literally.
Having your web or mobile application open for more than 1 second reduces your user base by approximately 60%. More, 53% of mobile users abandon a site that takes over 3 seconds to load.
Content is king, but people won’t even get to see it if it isn’t served pretty much instantly.
Site speed effects:
- Search engine optimization and search engine rankings
- Customer experience
- And conversion rate
For SEO, speed is really important. Google itself has declared that it ranks websites in the search engine results in part, based on speed.
Growth Marketing Pro relies on organic search (SEO) for 85%+ of our traffic — so our site speed is really important to us.
When I noticed our organic traffic beginning to grow less quickly and saw our PageSpeed score, I went to one of my favorite websites, Upwork. There, I found a competent WordPress engineer to help speed up our site. (Learn how to set up your own WordPress blog here).
There’s no magic to what this developer did. It’s pretty customary to speed up a two-year old WordPress site and there’s plenty of developers on Upwork who can handle the task.
In fact, for Growth Marketing Pro it made complete business sense to do it. Growth Marketing Pro makes us 6 figure revenue yearly and I estimate that speeding up the site would make us an additional ~$100,000 in 2019 based on simple assumptions.
How could we not spend the money!?
So, what did this WordPress developer do to our site?
- He removed all the unused templates and non activated plugins to clean up the server load (I suppose I could have done this part)
- Increased the max memory of the site to 1024 mb, so more scripts can execute simultaneously to create less of a bottleneck
- Explained how to use a tool called ImageOptim to compress our images before uploading (images take a lot of time to load)
Speeding up your website can be a huge boon to web traffic. That engineer cost us $1,000 to work his magic, but so far, it’s been worth every penny.
Ways to improve the speed of your application
What our developer did is only the tip of the iceberg. There’s a bunch of ways to speed up a website. Poke around in the PageSpeed tool or ask a developer to take a quick look at your site to make a few diagnoses.
Here are some things you can do to speed up your site yourself:
Minimize your images
Often, images are the main reason a website is sluggish. Website images have to download fully in order for a webpage to render properly. The bulkier the images, the longer the download time.
But images are a huge part of the internet. Undoubtedly, infographics, memes, gifs and simple images help illustrate points and sell products. If you have an ecommerce store, you must have high quality images to sell products.
But for images that aren’t crucial to selling product, you might consider reducing the quality slightly in order to maintain site speed.
For this blog, I rarely upload images larger than 800 pixels wide. Our blog’s physical width is relatively narrow — so images any larger add no value anyway.
Plus, now I use ImageOptim to compress images even further.
Minimise the use of libraries and plugins
Some libraries are huge. It might seem like a great idea to get that fancy new calendar, but is that really worth half a megabyte of data for an element at the bottom of the page that people rarely see?
Make sure to check the size of the libraries and plugins, and use them only when absolutely necessary.
Like I said, the engineer we hired eliminated a bunch of plugins we no longer used and even sent me a list of our slowest active plugins. I gave him permission to delete a few of them that only added minimal value.
Lightspeed is kind of sluggish in the internet space
Make sure you know your user base and make your static content (images and scripts) geographically close to them. Fiber optic cables deliver data with a whooping 0.8-ish of the speed of light. Sounds blazing fast, but the internet is accustomed to blazing fast.
If you run your static files in Europe and a user in China opens your website, they’re already facing a 200-400 millisecond delay which leaves you with less headroom for actual content.
Make sure your website’s static content is properly delivered from locations close to your user’s locations. CDNs are great for the purpose.
Your web host will determine whether you’re geographically close to your users. In general, if your traffic is in the United States, make sure you’re using a U.S.-based web host!
Read Top 10 Web Hosts for more information on that.
Here’s something that doesn’t get mentioned often enough. Use resources that other websites use. When a script is being used by a website, the user’s browser checks if it has it in its cache.
If they visited a website that shares scripts with yours, like libraries, make sure you use common ones so you can spare some download time.
Additionally you can enable caching for your application, which will alleviate some of the requests. It makes your app more robust to simultaneous connections, which reduces resource usage on the servers, which – you guessed it – gives better performance for your buck.
Web resources for speed management
There are plenty of resources on the internet that can help you determine flaws in your application’s load speeds. You can visit pingdom.com which is an excellent resource for the purpose. Or again, PageSpeed is a Google-sponsored site that helps diagnose issues and gives you a baseline website speed score.
The information on there is slightly technical and even if the advices go over your head, you can always get a professional to help out, and it would be worth the investment.
If you’re unsure whether your web host is among the fastest, check out the infographic below or read our posts:
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