3 Methods for a Faster Website

by Kris Scheben-Edey June 23rd, 2011 

speed

How many times have you clicked a link or search result, only to click the back button after waiting for a whole ten seconds to load?  After the first three seconds of loading, visitors start leaving at an exponential rate.

Wait a minute, are we being impatient " I mean three or even ten seconds is nothing.  Think of the time it would take you to find a similar book in the library, or to lookup a subject matter expert and arrange a call.  After putting it in perspective, 10 seconds to find what youre looking for doesnt seem like a problem at all.

But it is!  In fact, a 2006 study conducted by Akamai established that 40% of online shoppers feel load time is the most influential factor for them when revisiting a site.  In the past five years, the online audience has only grown more demanding and there are significant benefits for webmasters who are ready to speed up their own site.

For businesses on all scales, a faster website can result in:

  • Decreased IT and server admin expenses,
  • Heightened user experience and lower bounce rates,
  • Increased performance, from traffic to conversion rates; and,
  • Higher search ranking positions (Google recognizes page speed as a ranking factor).

There are a number of ways to speed up your website for all levels technical skills.  First, its a good idea to run some tests and see just how fast (or slow) your pages are. Below Ill go over three key methods to improving your own site speed " ideas you can put to work immediately for your business or personal websites.

Optimize Website Content

Start with the largest content that takes the longest to download.  Typically, there is always room for improvement when it comes to images but youll find ways to optimize your content from included scripts to small css changes.  This article has a great list of ways to optimize your webpage content for speed.

Choose the Right Hosting Service

Your hosting service can play a significant role in your site speed " and its common for unknowing webmasters to trade speed for a low cost service.  There are plenty of hosting companies that deliver an exceptional service, but there are also those who cut costs at every corner.  Make sure your web host isnt slowing you down and that you have sufficient transfer bandwidth with your account.

You can find some great recommendations from other webmasters in forums or blogs, but be careful of the occasional affiliate trying to sell you on a lower-quality one.  Do your homework when it comes to hosting because its one-time step and can have a significant impact on your site speed and user experience.

Add a Proxy Layer

Finally, a more advanced technique used on higher volume sites is to integrate a reverse proxy server.  The objective of a reverse proxy server is to have greater control on how content is delivered, based on who is visiting.

proxylayerprocess

This enables a site to reduce the amount of loading necessary and depending on the setup, the options are vast.  For large companies they might purchase and setup their own server, but even a smaller business can use this technology through services like Cloudflare or Akamai.  For those interested in deploying their own server, take a look at Squid.

The Bottom Line

Page speed is important.  It can have a profound effect on your revenue, conversion rates and a faster site is always better positioned to increase traffic.  The bottom line is that a fast-loading site creates a much better experience for you, your customers and for the new prospects that will be discovering your content throughout the years.

Kris Scheben-Edey

I'm a young marketing professional passionate about all forms of marketing. Currently, I have the opportunity to work with Switch Video which specializes in animated explainer videos and corporate video production. Fun fact? I have as many PJ's as pants... and I love it!

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2 Responses to “3 Methods for a Faster Website”

  1. Hi Kris,

    I've just been doing this very thing this week! I've managed to get my load times down from around 11 seconds to consistently under 3 seconds. I was thinking that it was my webhost, but then the more I've looked into it, it turned out to be a caching plugin and another bloated plugin on my wordpress installation that was causing a huge delay.

    I totally recommend CloudFlare too – it took me from 5 seconds down to about 3. It's all important if you want to keep people around – who's going to hang around for 10 seconds waiting for something to happen when you can just click back and take the next listing in google?!

    • Kris S says:

      Great work Dan – that's certainly a nice improvement!

      Now it's time to watch the analytics and measure just how effective the speed increases are on your traffic and bottom-line. I bet the change from 11 to 3 seconds will have a major affect on your bounce rate as well. Congrats on your new speedy site :)