Why is Website Loading Speed so Important? A fair question we all have lightning fast internet now, so why is it so important?
This is not as straight forward as you may think and can be broken up into a few reasons. It is more important than ever to do regular speed tests on your website and look to make improvements where possible.
Google now use your website loading speed as one of their many ranking factors. If you care about being found in search engines then you should also care about your website loading times. They even have a tool called Page Speed Insights to test your site and offer advice on improvements.
Mobile Use Has Increased
First and the easiest reason to explain is mobile use for websites has massively increased. Obviously if the user is on mobile internet they have a hard time downloading complex code heavy and image heavy websites. Secondary to this even when they are on good internet mobile devises are generally slower at decompressing files, processing the code and then rendering it on your screen.
The increased number of files for each page means more requests are being made to the server which leads to an increased time before your device can even start downloading.
Most sites are now powered by a CMS like WordPress or and Ecommerce platform. These are very code heavy out of the box to enable designers and site owners the functionality and flexibility expected from modern day websites.
Lots of server side scripting has to be processed and database queries made to then serve the files to a client device. This part of the process makes your internet speed irrelevant. It is reliant upon how good the server is and how efficient the server side coding of your site is.
Website Image Usage and Quality
We also now use more images and better quality images than ever before. Which increases the number of files needed to be downloaded for each page and increases the size of these files. All these will affect website loading speed.
So What Can be Done to Improve Website Loading Speed?
This is quite a vast subject but I will cover some of the most common things being overlooked on websites being made. Most websites we do SEO work on have overlooked these areas and is something we generally tackle with a high priority.
Next Generation Images
Using the likes of WebP images is a great way to reduce file size for your images without loosing quality. Unfortunately not all browsers support WebP images though most do now, so you would need to ensure a fallback option is available for browsers which don’t support WebP.
Ensuring a good file cache policy is in place can reduce the requests to a server and reduce the amount required to download.
When your cache policy is set up correctly you won’t need to download these files again. It will use the local copy cached on the client machine. This cache can even work if you visit the site then 10 days later revisit depending on how long the cache is set for.
Files which are edited on regular basis will require a shorter cache length. This is to ensure the client always gets the correct copy and site bugs don’t arise. Images and videos are often not changed though so can have a long cache date set.
Server technology file compression can help reduce file sizes further. Often something not being used to its potential.