What do you do when a website loads slowly?

I guess, you hop off to the next site that has already loaded to get a specific piece of information you are searching for. Is that so?

Chances are due to slow loading time you are missing many potential visitors. Not only that, you are losing search engine rankings too.

Loading time is one of the ranking factors and Google has confirmed that it does impact search engine rankings.

However, the definition of site speed is still under speculation and Matt Cutts, the head of web spam department confirmed that the rankings for slow loading mobile sites would also be affected.

How to Increase your loading time?

Beginners should focus on reducing the front-end loading time of a site. The first and foremost task is to reduce the number of HTTP requests.

You can reduce the number of images. Secondly, you can reduce the number of stylesheets and compile them into one.

  1. To reduce the number of images, you can do so using CSS sprites. Check this guide given by Google to understand how to combine images using CSS sprites.
  2. Next, you can compress the CSS and JS files and use gzip component to enable compression of the files and make your site load faster. To minify CSS and Javascript files, you can use WordPress plugins such as WP Minify Fix or Combine CSS.
  3. Use CDN to serve your static files across to your visitors. This increases the loading time of a site drastically. A CDN provider can have servers in New York, Hong Kong, California or Sweden. Suppose, you are accessing a site from Mexico, the server with the fastest loading time will hop in to deliver the content to you. The server may be from Hong Kong or any other place.
  4. By enabling browser caching, you can also reduce the loading speed. Take an example. Someone is visiting your website. His or her hard drive will store the scripts, stylesheets and images that your website has. This way, the next time the person visit again, your site will load much faster on his machine.

So, how does this happen? Those files that are stored in the person’s machine have an expiration date called the “expires headers” in the header part of the file. Generally, it is set to 24 hours; however, you can change it.

Now, there are static and dynamic components to use in the header. You can set the header to static, i.e., “Never Expires” for those that don’t get updated often such as images, scripts, stylesheets, Flashes, etc. On the other hand, set the others to Dynamic by using a cache-controlled header with conditional requests.

This will tell the header to keep the enable the cache for 1 year or for one week or as you set.

I hope by implementing the above strategies, you can reduce the speed of your site drastically and increase your search engine rankings. Want to test the speed right now? Use Pingdom or Google Page Speed to test now and get into action.