Boosting dwell time and engagement is one of the easiest ways to boost conversions. The time it took you to open this page and read that first sentence is the average web surfer’s attention span. If they were not captivated then you can kiss that conversion goodbye. Of course search behavior plays a large role in the amount of time you have to make the magic happen, but we still need to make sure the content on our web page is being served as quickly as possible.
That and Google explicitly stated that they want to serve faster loading sites at the top of their search results because it provides a better user experience for their traffic. If you do not need any more reason to get your pages loading faster then lets get started.
Hey guys! Mark here and I would like to chat a bit about increasing page speed today. Clint Butler of My Hourly Geek has generously created some content for us in the form of a few videos embedded below, but before we begin I would like to cover some basic page speed do’s, dont’s, and present some general information to help you guys fully understand how it works and apply it to creating faster pages …It will only take a moment and it will cover some commonplace issues we have seen people run into when optimizing their pages for speed, so the spiel will not be in vain.
There are a lot of factors that play into whether some of these tricks increase your load speeds or whether the work will be for nothing.
What Determines Load Speed?
There are two components to site load time; one is the process of downloading and rendering the page on the user side, and the other is how this information is handled and delivered to the user from the server side. We have most of the control over the server side and how it delivers content to the browser trying to access the information.
We cannot control the quality of internet the user us utilizing, the computing power of their machine, or the connection speed. The main thing we can optimize is the performance of our page as it pertains to serving information to the users browser. We cover some of the basics on accomplishing this in the videos below.
Of course the other main component we have absolute control over is the server side metrics that will effect load time. Hosting, being one of the most important, is going to play an astronomical role in this improvement. Granted, we have gotten some wicked fast load times for sites on terrible quality hosting, keep in mind we are going to be limited by our allotted server space.
Another issue we see is people overloading a page with scripts, media, and widgets that bogs down the performance of a page. After the HTML is parsed we run into these things that can essentially be a mess. Let me put it into a more simple form…
If you have ten sliders on the page in which you are trying to increase the speed, there are very few things we can do to exponentially increase the speed of the page aside from removing some of them. This is a good example of on-page factors that will turn your page into a snail.
I hate to rain on a fun day parade, but inefficient code is going to be another massive roadblock that impedes upon your progress. Now from a non technical perspective this is going to sound scary because most marketers have a limited understanding of the core code which causes our site to work. To simplify the previous statement, developers combine their preferred language of code with a database and create content management systems.
WordPress and other CMS are decent out of the box, but we are left with a conundrum on our hands because we need to add a theme and plugins. Unfortunately , developers of these add-ons are a lot of times do not take care to write clean and efficient code.
If you need help in this department then you need to hire some professional help. They will have to excogitate the code and database queries to find any potential issues that are present. The solution can range from modifying queries, implementing and altering algorithms. and in some severe cases even restructuring the database itself.
There are a few drawbacks with page caching but that can usually be ignored for the good of your site. If your pages are not cached then it needs to re-build the page every time someone wants to access it, causing tons of requests each time. Furthermore, if the page is cached on the server it will serve the exact copy of that page every time the user accesses. This makes for a lot more stellar of a user experience.
Should I use CloudFlare for Page Speed?
Cloudflare has taken a lot of heat from the seo community lately, and truth be told it has stemmed from misunderstanding and paranoia instead of legitimate cause. It has been erroneously called a lot of things it is not, but let’s chat about what it is. CF is a CDN (content delivery network) It can add an element of security to your website as well as increase your load speed because of serving content from the CDN rather than your local server.
While Cloudflare is one of the most talked about content delivery networks there are a plethora of them, some free and some paid, each having their own pros and cons.
In the video below Clint walks us through the very easy to setup Cloudflare and gives his opinion on using CF in general. Setting this CDN up is one of the easiest and quickest ways to improve site speed, most times right out of the box.
Optimizing Your Images for Page Speed
In a world where sites are becoming more image heavy than ever before, it is imperative that minify these files so they do not cause our site to get bogged down. In the video below Clint covers some of the tools that make this task easy and discusses the benefits and drawbacks of each.
Page Speed Testing Tools
Clint briefly covers some of the more popular page speed testing tools. He explores Google’s own tool, GTmetrix, and Pingdom. All three are effective in their own regard and I do suggest pulling data from all three tools if you are serious about covering all of your bases when optimizing for speed.
Check out the video below and decide which tool will be your “go-to” option that will assist you in taking your page speed to the next level.
Reading the Page Speed Test Results
Clint takes you through actually reading one of the reports and turning it into an actionable set of tactics to improve your page speed. This really helps so you can isolate some of the more prominent issues and fix them accordingly. Pareto’s 80/20 law comes into play in this situation where we want to get 80% improvements to our speed with 20% effort.
This means if your host is taking multiple seconds just to start responding to requests, it might be a good idea to look for a better hosting solution before spending hours handling small issues that will reward you with a 300mbps uptick. Same thing applies to combining scripts and mitigating third party interactions. (Different Google platforms can really be a server suck along with plenty of other third party burdens)
Take a look at how Clint moves through the report and builds his strategy in the video below.
Want to See it in Action?
In the upcoming video you can actually see Clint optimizing a site for speed, live! There is no reason to give a long winded introduction, just check out the tweaks he makes to knock seconds off of the site’s load time. Let us know what you think!
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