Page Speed Optimization: 2020 Best Practices

Page Speed Optimization

With the growth of the digital era, there has been a huge disruption in human behavior. With the growth of online shopping, the website is the main point for most businesses and sale conversions. Your website speed will determine your page ranking and the user experience on your website. It will also define whether the user will perform the desired action on your webpage or not. So it is quite crucial to optimize the speed of your website. Else it will lead to poor page ranking and user experience too. Here we bring to you the best practices for page speed optimization for the year 2020. 

Page speed: 

It is a measurement of how quickly the content of your webpage loads. It is often confused with site speed. But site speed is the page speed for a sample of page views on your website. The concept of page speed can be explained in either page load time or time to the first byte. Page load time is the time that it takes for the entire content of a particular page to display fully. While the time to the first byte is the time taken by your browser to get the first byte of information from the server of the website. 

You can check your page speed using tools such as PageSpeed Insights by Google. This tool incorporates its data from CrUX i.e. User Experience report of Chrome. Its report is based upon two important metrics of page speed i.e. DOMContent Loaded and First Contentful Paint i.e. DCL and FCP. 

Best practices for page speed optimization 2020:

Website and page speed are used by Google to rank web pages. The time to the first byte is mainly considered by the Google algorithm while checking page speed. When your page is slow then search engines can crawl fewer pages based on their crawl budget and this can affect your indexation negatively. Page speed determines user experience to the greatest extent. if your page loads slowly then it will have a higher bounce rate and the average time on the page would be low. This can affect your conversions negatively. 

So website speed should be the top priority for your SEO in 2020. Just a second of delay in page loading time can decrease your customer satisfaction by 16%. It can reduce your page views by 11% and can result in 7% or more loss in your conversions. This can eventually cost you a lot of money. Usually, your web page should load in around less than 2 

seconds and for mobile browsers the time is less than 4 seconds. But currently, most websites do not meet these benchmarks. 

By speeding up your website you can get an edge over your competitors. So after understanding the importance of page speed optimization let us look at the ways to achieve it.  

1.    Minimise the website HTTP requests:

Every element of your website makes HTTP requests. This includes scripts, stylesheets, and images. 80% of the loading time of the page is because of the downloading of the on-page elements. So more components on the page mean more HTTP requests. You can check this out using the developer tools settings of your webpage. You must try to reduce that number and simplify your page design. 

Remove any unnecessary redirects. While you may use them to fix broken links, they create HTTP requests that can slow the page speed. First, identify your redirects and then take the necessary steps to eliminate the ones that are not essential. 

2.    Reduce your TTFB:

TTFB means time to the first byte. This is the time that browsers have to wait before getting the first byte of data from your web server. Simply it is the time for your webpage to start loading. 

TTFB consists of three main elements i.e. HTTP request time, response time, and process request time. If you have a fast TTFB for your website then requests would be delivered faster to the browser and this loads content faster for your visitor. Usually, TTFB should be less than 200ms for a fast loading website 

Some common reasons for a slow TTFB are: 

·      Network issues

·      Server configuration

·      Website traffic

·      Content creation

The best way to reduce the TTFB of the website is by making use of browser caching. 

3.    Check your web hosting plan:

Make sure that you are not choosing a hosting plan that is just cheap and does not meet your requirements of web hosting. When launching a new website, you can start with a low-cost budget plan of hosting. But as traffic and data increase you must make sure that you upgrade your hosting plan.

Web hosting can be categorized as shared hosting, dedicated server, cloud hosting, or VPS hosting. The hosting plan and company that you choose have a direct impact on your website speed. 

4.    Run compression audits:

If you want your website to be fast, then your files should be as small as possible. You should not sacrifice quality, but compress files to make them small. You can run a compression audit regularly that will give you an idea of which files need to be addressed. After compressing your website files, you can reduce the download time of your website considerably. So do enable compression for fast loading webpage.

5.    File compression:

After running a compression audit, you will understand the need for compressing files. In the web industry Gzip compression is highly preferred. Using it you can compress lines of similar coding and replace them thereby reducing your file size. It is highly recommended especially for CSS and HTML files that tend to have lots of repetitive code and whitespace. You can reduce your response size by around 70% using this technique.

6.  Reduce image sizes:

Images and visual elements are a part of your website without which your website will be boring, untrustworthy, and unprofessional. But images contribute to a lot of loading time. This is the truth, especially for online commerce websites. By making use of image compression tools you can reduce their size without compromising on quality. After compressing images make sure that you use the correct file type for it. Generally .jpg is the best option to choose from. You can opt for png files for images in which you need a lot of detail such as logos. 

7.    Combine and minify files:

Every file of your website contributes to the page loading time. If there are lots of files for your pages then it will increase the number of HTTP requests. Ideally, it is not possible to eliminate all files. Instead, you can make use of the minify feature and combine them. This can be done for your HTML, Javascript, and CSS files as well as for Google Fonts. Minification removes all characters that are not needed from your files such as white space and formatting. It will remove redundant code too. This will eventually reduce your file size. By combining files you can reduce your HTTP request number and concentrate files into smaller groups. 

8.    Make use of asynchronous loading:

After minifying and combining your Javascript and CSS files you should optimize the way these files are loaded. You get two options for this i.e. asynchronous and synchronous loading. Synchronously means one file is loaded at a time based on its location on your webpage. In this case, if one file is taking more time to load then other files will have to wait for the loading to get complete.

By making use of asynchronous file loading, files can get loaded simultaneously. So if one file is taking more time to load, other elements of the page can get loaded without any delay. 

9.    Javascript files should have deferred loading:

By deferring a file you stop it from getting loaded till other page elements have loaded completely. If you defer a large file then it ensures that other elements of the page load quickly without any issues. Javascript files i.e. .js files are large and they can be deferred. You can do it by using any plugin or writing it by coding. 

10.    Improve lookups of DNS:

DNS means domain name system. This is a web server that contains a database of IP addresses and names of numerous hosts. When a user enters a URL in the browser the DNS server converts the URL into an IP address and indicates its location online. when you enter a URL in the browser, the browser does not understand anything. It needs to be properly translated so that you reach the correct website. With the help of DNS lookup, people need not remember long combinations of numbers. But sometimes this process will take more time. If your time for DNS lookup is very slow then you should switch to another DNS provider that will provide faster service. 

11.    Enable browser caching:

When a user visits a new website then all of its elements would be loaded. But these elements get stored in the browser’s cache. This cache is temporary storage on the user’s hard drive. When the same website is visited again the same browser can load that page quicker without the need to send an additional HTTP request to the website’s server. This will happen if you are having caching enabled. It will make the website load quickly for returning visitors. 

12.    CDN installation:

CDN means a content delivery network. Every website is hosted on a server and when you get a visitor on the website the request is sent to that web server. If there is a high level of user traffic on the website then the requests will be taking a lot of time to process. This can slow your website for users. Getting a high amount of traffic is a good thing for your business or website. But you do not want to lose these people, just because your website speed was slow. 

This can be solved using the CDN system. The website speed is also impacted by the physical location of the visitor. If the location of the user is farther away from your server location then the website will load slowly even when the volume of website traffic is low and vice versa. 

CDNs can cache your website on the network of several global servers. So when a file is requested from your website then the request is routed to a server that is closest to the user’s physical location. 

13.    Use external hosting platforms for your videos:

Videos do add a lot of value to your website but it can slow down the loading time too. 64% of users are more likely to purchase a product for which they have a video to watch online. videos that are not optimized can slow down your website. What is video optimization?

If you are having a product video for your website and you upload it using FTP on your website then it is a wrong approach. This is because the video will be on your web server and it will occupy lots of space. It is not at all advisable if you are having a shared hosting plan. If multiple people watch the video at the same time then it will hinder the bandwidth of the server and cause stoppages and lags in the playback. 

The solution here is to upload your videos on YouTube or any other third-party platforms. Later you just have to embed the video link on your website. This will save on server space and it will not affect your website speed also.

Conclusion:

You cannot overlook the importance of speed for your website loading. The time it takes for your website to load can break or make the website’s success. A website cannot be just launched and left away. You need to monitor its loading speed regularly. Otherwise, you would never know where you are standing and what things needed to be improved.