We discussed bounce rate in a recent article, and one way to improve it and keep the new-comers browsing and engaging with your blog content, is to make your pages load faster. Google also loves pages that load in no time, and not only on desktop, but on mobile too. They even provide developers guidelines to help optimize the performance of your blog.
What else makes speed important?
Does it happen to you to click a link and then have to sit and wait there forever for the site to load? What’s your first impulse? Do you actually sit and wait or leave in the first few seconds? The statistics say you will leave.
Online Graduate Programs’ amazing infographic “Instant America” explains this better with numbers:
- 1 in 4 people abandon a web page that takes more than 4 seconds to load,
- 50% of mobile users abandon a page if it doesn’t load in 10 seconds, and 3 out of 5 won’t return to that site.
Knowing that one fourth of U.S. mobile web users browse only on their phones, never using a laptop, tablet or desktop computer to access the Internet, the numbers above must be carefully considered. If your blog receives attention from mobile searchers read this post on responsive blog design. For more data on loading time, patience of web and mobile users, and the effects on online shopping behavior, here’s one more infographic, from KISSmetrics.
Is your blog too slow?
To find out, run a site speed test using Pingdom tools, which will also give you information on the pages that slow down your blog so you can make the necessary optimization like reducing the file size of large images. Or even better, go to Google’s PageSpeed Insights and type in your URL to get their suggestions on how to speed up your site.
If you don’t like the results you see, these tips can make your blog load faster:
Optimize your images before uploading
If the images on your blog are too large it will take to long for pages to load. This is probably one of the biggest reasons behind slow websites. Read Google’s guide on the best image format for each file type, and use tools like Picasa or Pixlr editor to resize your images to the corresponding size in which they will be displaying on your blog. You can also use the Online Image Optimizer to easily optimize your gifs, animated gifs, jpgs, and pngs, and convert one image type to another for free.
Do this with all your blog images before uploading, because this way you save lots of work and time of your readers’ browsers that they need to do before they display your blog page. Less work means faster loading for your site.
Store your data locally or set up a CDN
Make sure all your images are saved on your servers. If you started your blog on Blogger for example, and then moved to WordPress, ask your designer to also get all images from there, so when someone views a page on your blog the images will upload from your servers and this way speed up the loading time.
Choose your hosting provider wisely
Before you sign up an agreement with a company that will be hosting your site (storing your data and making it available to online users), be sure to consider what they are offering. Ideally you would want your own dedicated server, but until then check the available bandwidth of your hosting service – you will need lots of it and not shared with others, as it will decrease your blog speed. Also select a reliable provider that guarantees the servers will be up and running.
Use caching plugins
Caching can significantly improve your blog’s performance. If ten people visit your homepage, ten requests are made to the database to retrieve this page; if the same request is made for a thousand people, you can imagine that will really slow things down. When using caching plugins, like W3 Total Cache or Advanced lazy load, a copy of the page is generated and uploaded instead of sending requests to the servers, unless changes were made to the page in recent time.
Do a regular cleanup!
So let’s say this blog post inspires you to optimize and speed up your blog. (Yeey! :)) In a couple of months you’ll need to do this again, and again… Remove stored revisions of old posts, plugins you don’t use anymore and update the rest. Regular cleanup is more than necessary if you want your blog to be fast enough to keep readers happy.
So how do you speed up your blog? Do you have some tips to share?