Improve website speed

Website speed has become all the rage again in recent times. Mobile devices are now used more to visit websites than ‘normal’ computers. This means that more and more visitors are browsing on a slow 3G connection or unstable wifi network. Many websites do not take this into account enough. Nowadays, an average mobile website is 2 MB in size. That’s a missed opportunity! Research shows that there is a direct relationship between speed and conversion rate.

The loading time of your website on mobile is also an important ranking factor for SEO. Google does not differentiate between devices these days: Positions in Google depend on the mobile version of your website. Does your website perform poorly on mobile? Then that affects all positions. Also in searches from regular computers and laptops!

Testing website speed and user experience

Do you want to improve the loading times of your website? Then first start measuring the loading time. Google has developed a good tool for this purpose: Pagespeed Insights. This tool doesn’t just take into account the weight of your page. It also looks at the user experience of the website. For example, take the following two pages of exactly the same size:

The first page becomes visible within two seconds while the second page keeps a white screen for over four seconds. For visitors, the first page gives the best user experience. This is because the page feels much faster because they can start reading much sooner. Therefore, the first page will score better in the test even though they are exactly the same in terms of weight.

Tip: Test the speed of all the important pages on your website. The experience can be very different, depending on the structure and content of the pages.

From 2021: Core Web Vitals

In November 2020, Google reaffirmed that starting in May 2021, the Pagespeed Insights score will become part of the algorithm that determines ranking in search results. In concrete terms, this means: make sure you score as high as possible in the test!

Reduce the size of images, web fonts and other resources

One of the most important measures you can take to make your website faster is to reduce the weight of your website. Use Pingdom Tools to see how heavy your website is and which resources weigh the most. Usually, these are the images.

Images can be reduced in several ways.

First, reducing the size of the image makes a big difference in the file size.
Secondly, the file size of images can be reduced by compression. This can be done for example through the website tinypng.com.
Finally, it is also possible to adjust the size of the image to the device. Mobile websites need smaller images than websites on a larger screen.

Tip: Automate the resizing and compression of images in your CMS to save time.

In addition to images, there are other resources that can add weight to a page, such as web fonts and CSS or JavaScript files. Take the following measures to improve the speed of your site:

Limit the number of variants of a font to only normal and bold, for example.
Combine and reduce CSS and JavaScript resources to one CSS file and one JavaScript file.
The HTML code itself can also be reduced in size for minimal savings.
Remove blocking resources (JavaScript and CSS).

Once the weight of your website has been reduced, then we can look at the next measure that has a big impact on the experience of speed: Remove blocking resources.

Every website is made up of resources that are necessary for the layout and animations on the page: CSS files, JavaScript files and fonts (also called web fonts). While these resources are loading, the loading of the rest of the page must wait. Many of these resources are still added by developers at the top of the page. This blocks the loading of the page and visitors have to wait many times longer before they can start reading.

To avoid blocking resources there are two possibilities:

Load the resources asynchronously. This will no longer block the loading of the rest of the page. This technique is used, for example, in the Google Analytics tracking code.
Only load the resources at the bottom of the page. This way, the visible part will load first, and only then the external sources.
Tip: for WordPress there is a handy plugin that can do this automatically for you, called autoptimize.

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