How to Increase the Loading Speed of Your Website

Imagine this: your e-commerce site is losing visitors on Black Friday or the recent record-setting Cyber Monday – traditionally the two biggest shopping days of the year.

What’s worse is that this situation is totally unnecessary. You could have kept those visitors if you had just reduced your website’s load time. By neglecting something so important, you are losing a significant amount of money and will continue to lose revenue until you tackle this problem.

Why Speed Matters

Speed matters first because it is one aspect of an efficient, high-functioning website. Nowadays, when most people access the Internet on the go from mobile devices, site speed has become especially important. But site speed also matters because people’s attention spans are getting increasingly shorter. Data shows that almost half of all internet users expect website pages to load in less than two seconds. If your site takes longer than three seconds to load, 40% of users will move on. And speed matters to Google.

Ever since the introduction of Google’s Mobile First Index, site speed is Google’s official ranking factor. This means slow load time means decreased rankings, hence poor site visibility.

Site speed has a huge effect on usabiloity and conversions. If people are leaving because your site is too slow, they are not converting.

No wonder many companies are focusing on improving site speed nowadays. Pathwwway, a product design and development growth-oriented company, names load time any business’s top priority.

For these reasons, web developer Robert Mening says that increasing site speed is “an essential skill for any website owner.” He provides an extensive list of strategies for speeding up WordPress (WP) websites in particular.

Evaluate Your Site

First, you should objectively test the speed of your site. To do so, you can use GTmetrix or Pingdom, both of which provide a detailed analysis of what (if anything) is causing your site to lag.

Pingdom

These tools measure if your site is too slow and you can also use them to continually monitor its performance. Remember that your goal should be for your pages to load in under two seconds. Faster than that is even better.

Have a Good Foundation

Make sure that you have a good hosting provider. Most likely your best bet is to opt for a virtual private server (VPS). Shared hosting will slow you down too much, and a dedicated server probably has more power than you need and is too expensive.

You should also consider managed WordPress hosting created especially for WP sites. With managed hosting, you won’t have to be responsible for the technical aspects of your site. Keep this same mentality when selecting your theme.

Choose one that only has what you need, keeping it as lightweight as possible. One strategy is to opt for a minimal theme and then add plug-ins to add additional functionality. You might also consider utilizing a content delivery network (CDN).

The closer a server is to a user, the faster the loading time will be. A CDN takes your static files and distributes them on various servers across the world so that your site is closer to people than it would have been otherwise. There are even solutions that will allow you to host parts of your site through a CDN. Some CDN resources you can check out are:

  • MaxCDN
  • Amazon Cloudfront
  • Cloudflare
  • Jetpack (a plugin)
  • WOT Cache

Updates and Maintenance

It should go without saying that you should keep all of the elements of your site as up to date as possible. This includes everything from HTML and PHP to your theme and plug-ins. Your hosting provider is responsible for your site’s primary updates, but you should still keep any eye on them.

The more up to date your technology is, the more secure your site will be and the more efficiently it will run. Clean up your database as it gets bloated with data you aren’t actually using. You should eliminate anything you aren’t using (plug-ins, widgets, etc.).

Other Tactics for Decreasing Loading Time

Speeding up your site is about enabling it to do as little as possible. With this principle in mind, consider doing the following:
  • Don’t host videos on your site – auto-embed them
  • Compress your images and your website files
  • Reduce server requests (e.g., limit how many posts you show on each page, break comments and posts into pages, implement lazy loading for images)
  • Allow caching
  • Concatenate files (i.e., combine them into one larger file)
  • Minify files
  • Limit what you can (such as post revisions, buttons, and widgets)
  • Deactivate pingbacks and trackbacks
  • Include an expires header in your static resources (this determines the length of time a visitor’s browser caches content)
  • Optimize CSS delivery
  • Prioritize above the fold content

Use a Web Design Platform Made for Site Speed

If your current content management system or theme is giving you a bad time, speed-wise, switch as soon as possible. Don’t try to fix or adjust. Use a website builder that gets it.

Duda is a solid example of an agency-friendly website building platform built from the ground up to minimize load times. Duda CTO Amir Glatt even published a detailed article describing what they have done to get Duda’s infrastructure as aligned as possible with Google’s best practices for page speed, achieving better scores than Wix, Weebly and even the mighty WordPress:

site score

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

It’s old news that people are using mobile more and more for all of their online activities. Not only does your site need to load quickly but it also needs to load quickly on smartphones. Because of the widespread use of mobile, Google has released Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which is “a whole new way of creating web pages and effectively changes the mobile web.”

AMP is an open-source software designed to boost loading speeds on mobile devices. Even before AMP, Google took steps to favor mobile-friendly sites. So the better your site’s mobile friendliness, the better its ranking. You can learn more about AMP here.

Test, Audit, Fix

Testing, monitoring and auditing how your site performs should be done on a continuous basis. Your site might be generating errors any minute due to redesign, new features, new sections/products being added, seasonal traffic spikes, sudden social media success, etc.

Serpstat is an advanced SEO platform that can help with auditing your website and alerting you of errors on a regular basis. It will break loading speed issues into two groups for you to easily prioritize:

  • High priority
  • Middle priority

It will also provide explanations for each item they are checking for you to better understand any issue and easily delegate the task to a non-SEO team member.

Serpstat audit

Everyone Benefits from Fast Loading Speed

No matter what area of life we’re talking about, people appreciate having experiences that are orderly, seamless, and fast.

Optimizing your site for speed will set you ahead of the majority of websites on the internet. The result will be that you lose fewer visitors and increase your revenue.

7 Problems Stopping You from Improving Your SEO

Most people recognize that anything worth accomplishing takes work. It takes time and energy to get a valuable return on an investment. This principle is one that you can apply to many areas of life, one of them being your search engine optimization (SEO) campaign.

You probably know you shouldn’t expect to improve your site’s rankings overnight. But if you’re going to spend time and money on something, it’s reasonable to expect to see a profit at some point. If you never see any improvement from your SEO campaign, then you are doing something wrong. Here are seven problems that might be stopping you from increasing your site’s rankings.

1. Quitting Because It’s Taking Too Long

Even if you know your results won’t be instantaneous, you still might be expecting to see them too soon. When some people don’t see any improvement within a few months, they decide their SEO efforts aren’t working and give up. This is a mistake.

How Long Does SEO Take?

Skyler Malley of Firestarter SEO in Denver points out that certain variables will impact how long it takes for you to be successful with your SEO campaign. You might see the fruit of your labors very quickly, but they also might take a while to develop. No matter what, Malley says that “the progress you see in the early stages should pale in comparison to the results you see at the end of the first year.”

2. Abusing Keywords

Keywords are essential for you to be successful at SEO, but don’t overuse them. You don’t want to pack a bunch of keywords into your content so that you can rank higher. Keyword stuffing will not serve your readers, and you risk getting on the wrong side of Google by doing so.

3. Not Accounting for Site History

You need to recognize that if your domain or website has been penalized, then your job is that much harder. That’s not to say you won’t be able to get your site to rank. It just means that your job is more difficult. The same is true if you bought your site from a previous owner. Whoever owned the domain before you had a different purpose for it and had different contact info. It will take you time to build your own history. Of course, it will also take you some time to build your history if your domain is completely new.

4. Neglecting Directories

One directory you need to claim right away if you have not yet done so is Google My Business. Google My Business is an opportunity to be listed for free on a site with a high level of traffic and authority. Despite what some think, other online directories are valuable for helping your search engine ranking. The key is to get your business listed on quality directories, not spammy ones. List your business in as many solid online directories as possible. Make sure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent across all your listings.

5. Misusing Backlinks

Backlinks are indispensable to SEO. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, they’re also a great way to get your site penalized. Do not include backlinks that are forced, irrelevant, or not educational to your followers. The key with backlinks is to make sure they are relevant to your content and fit naturally within it. They should be instructional and clearly support the purpose of your posts. If they have these qualities and come from authoritative sites, your own site will greatly benefit.

Moz has a few suggestions for getting backlinks without incurring Google’s wrath. You can ask people you know to link back to your blog, so long as they do so in a way that is natural and helpful to users. Look for instances online where people have mentioned your business without linking to you. Then ask them to link to your business. It’s a good idea to search for mentions on a monthly basis.

Something else you can do is use Google’s Search Console to find times when people have attempted to link to you, but the links are broken. Consider doing an event or a promo, especially one that benefits people. Then ask a journalist to write about and link to you. Check out HARO, a platform that helps journalists who need to write a story discover businesses who could help them out. If your company provides a service relevant to a story you find through HARO, you can connect with that reporter and get a link to your site.

6. Creating Poor Content

You do need to optimize your content for SEO, but you also need to create content that is high quality and educational. Creating strong content takes a lot of work, but doing so is important to increasing your traffic. Good content benefits your audience and builds your authority. The more niche your content is, the better your traffic will be.

It’s obviously best if you can choose evergreen topics. But besides having something great to say and saying it well, there are other ways to capture people’s attention. Make sure your titles are eye-catching and that your blog is well designed. Also make sure you’re regularly offering visual content, such as infographics and videos, which get a lot of engagement.

7. Thinking You Can Control Everything

As we said earlier, succeeding at SEO is not a formulaic process. Because certain aspects are out of your control, your results will have a degree of unpredictability. For example, the industry you’ve chosen impacts the level of competition you face. And the level of competition you face affects how hard it will be for you to rank for certain keywords. Some businesses will have a much easier time ranking than you will simply because you happen to be in a more challenging industry.

Guidelines, Not a Formula

How long does it take for SEO to start working? That depends, but you should see results within a year if you implement the strategies outlined above. Don’t neglect these crucial steps for increasing your traffic and promoting your business online.

Top 11 Important Directories You Need Your Business To Be On

Despite what some might think, web directories are highly valuable for local businesses. It is true that some directories can be spammy, but they are not inherently poor in quality. There are plenty of solid, well-regulated web directories online. Before search engines became the most prevalent way of finding information, people used web directories to find relevant websites. These listings are still an important way to help people to find your company.

What Does Google Think?

The idea persists that Google takes a dim view of local business listings. The reason why people have this perception is that in 2012 Google penalized several hundred web directories. This move made many businesses understandably cautious about putting their info into local listings. However, it is important to recognize that the reason why Google penalized these sites is that they were poor in quality. Since then, Google has not made a practice of penalizing directories simply for being directories. Google actually focuses on listings that are not adding value for users.

Why Are Directories So Important?

Putting your information into an online directory can be tedious. There are hundreds from which you can choose. And it’s not exactly riveting to enter the same data (your address, phone number, etc.) over and over again. So why do directories matter? What if the major TV networks had advertising space available during the Super Bowl and offered your business a free spot? All you have to do is claim it. You would be out of your mind not to take advantage of visibility that brands are willing to spend millions of dollars on. That example is a little extreme, but the point is still true. There are powerful, high traffic sites that will allow you to claim your listing for free or a minimal cost. Brands will pay a lot of money to be featured on other sites with similar domain authorities. If you’re not claiming your listing on these free sites, you’re turning your back on extensive visibility and consequently, on revenue. The most important site where you need to claim your listing is Google My Business, which has a domain authority of 100 and can certainly help boosting your local search engine optimization strategy.

The Internet Saves Time and Money

Perhaps you are a believer in the power of the traditional yellow pages, print marketing, or radio and TV advertising. Moz points out that, if so, you have every reason to pursue local business listings online. By doing so, you can accomplish the same goals for much less money. Advertising yourself in print, such as in the phone book or through brochures, is expensive. In contrast, while not all online directories are free, you save a lot more through using them than you would by turning to print marketing. Online directories also enable people to solve their problems much more easily. When users do find you online, they can click on a link to find out more about your company and actually talk to you. This is not an ability people have when they discover you by means of radio or TV. The number of people you can reach online is far greater than those you can reach through print or other means.

Protect Your Brand

There is another reason why you need to claim your online listings. If you do nothing, you are leaving an opportunity wide open for someone else to claim your listing and damage your reputation. It’s essential that you pursue local listings order to protect yourself from trolls and underhanded competitors. You need to do so even if you only go after the minimum number of listings.

Top 11 Important Directories

Here are what we believe are the top 11 most important directories on which to list your business.

Business Directories

Let’s start with the human-edited, high quality private directories that are not covered by third party listing services.

Important Search Engine Map Listings

Yellow Pages Type Directories

Communities

More to Know About Local Listings

There is a lot more you need to know about listing your business in online directories apart from what we’re covering here. For example, how do you find directories specific to your niche? What are the directories that are the most important to your business besides those in our top 10? There is advice you need to be aware of, such as the necessity of making your name, address, and phone number (NAP) exactly the same across the internet. You should also know that there are databases you can pay to be in and which can be an enormous advantage to you. Databases partner with directories, saving you the valuable time you would spend entering your information manually. Databases also enable you to manage multiple listings from one location. You can find a lot of the information you need in the post linked above. Don’t neglect your reputation or squander a golden opportunity to increase your revenue. Do what you need to do today to take advantage of online directories.
GrowMap
Gail Gardner is the Small Business Marketing Strategist at GrowMap.com