Every time someone visits your site, your blog is in a race against the clock. The time between when a user will click the link to your site and can actually read your words is limited. Too long and people just click away.
Though, with high-speed Internet becoming as prevalent as it has, these issues have become somewhat less important, though that same speed, combined with instant streaming videos and audio, seems to have frayed people’s patience over the years, taking away some of the seconds broadband bought Webmasters.
So it is important to ensure that your site loads as quickly as possible, not just to prevent people from clicking away before a page loads, but to encourage them to read and spend more time on your site.
With that in mind, here are five quick ways you can improve your site’s speed and give your visitors a better experience.
We all love “Share This Page” links of all sorts and have plugins that we simply don’t think we could do without. However, the more items you have loading on your page, the slower it moves.
Try reducing the number of items that a visitor has to load on your page. If you can combine elements into one, such as a single Share This button, do so. If an element isn’t doing your site much good, remove it.
The fewer elements to load, the faster the site goes, it’s that simple.
Still, most of the time, it is best to keep it on your domain unless you are sure that the other site is faster and more reliable.
Certain images, such as your logo, your background, sidebar fillers, etc. load on every single page and can provide a tremendous drag on the loading time of your site. However, through proper image size reduction, you can reduce the drag, in some cases, by 90% or more.
First, make sure your images are sized correctly for the Web. You should never use HTML to reduce the dimensions of an image as that forces the browser to download more than needed. Second, ensure that you are using the correct format and then, finally, reducing the quality of the image until it is as low as it can go and still be acceptable for the Web.
This can be a very fast way to reduce the amount of data a visitor must download and display, thus speeding up your site and saving you money on bandwidth.
CSS is far more efficient than in-line styling for many reasons and it can also replace some of the functions done by images and summarize a style element that would need to be repeated hundreds of times in one or two lines of code. They reduce file sizes and are generally easier for browsers to download and parse.
Many blogs don’t make enough use of CSS and, as they develop their site, add elements in without putting them in the actual stylesheet. This can quickly grow into a mess that is a nightmare for the end user.
Learning CSS and using it is one of the most important things you can do for your site in terms of making it both faster and easier to edit.
If you are a WordPress user, WP Super Cache is a well-known plugin that may give your site a significant speed increase by converting your dynamic site into a static one, saving your server from having to load content from the database on every page load.
However, not every site sees those benefits. Some, where the database server is faster than the content server, may actually be slowed. Still, most WordPress users on shared hosts, such as GoDaddy and Hostgator, will likely see a benefit.
If you haven’t already, install it, let it run for a few days and see if it helps with your loading time, if it does, keep it on as much as possible.
If you are unsure of how well your site is performing and what your weaknesses might be, consider using Pingdom’s full page test to find any potential issues that you may have.
Fixing these issues is critical for your site as they can help increase the number of visitors your site gets, encourage search engines to index more of your site and send you more traffic not to mention prevent people from leaving.
Your site’s speed still counts, even in the age of broadband, and it is important not to lose sight of that.