Website visitors and search engines prefer faster websites. While it’s unhealthy to obsess about page speed numbers, it can be satisfying to keep the likes of Google and Bing happier with your website’s performance. See later on this page for how to test your website speed. Here are the main steps to make your website faster.
Steps: How to make your website faster
Following a few of these steps will definitely help you speed up your website. For best results, try to follow as many steps as you can.
- Reduce image file sizes
- Reduce image dimensions
- Use a simple WordPress theme (for WordPress users)
- Consider a caching plugin (for WordPress users)
- Use less WordPress plugins (for WordPress users)
- Link to less scripts and less third-party content
- Reduce the amount of content on the page
- Use a decent domain host
- Consider using a CDN
Step 1. Reduce image file sizes
Larger file sizes take longer to load. The larger the file sizes of the images on your page, the longer the page will take to load, too. So, when you create, edit or save an image, try to reduce the file size as much as possible while keeping as much image detail as possible.
WordPress users can also use image optimizer plugins like ShortPixel Image Optimizer (link). Then, when you upload images to your WordPress media library, the plugin can automatically optimize the images to reduce file sizes. If you don’t like the given result for any particular image, you can choose to display the original.
Step 2. Reduce image dimensions
To speed up your pages, consider using smaller images, too. Generally, most images that are reduced in dimension and optimized will also have a smaller file size. This is why we have thumbnails so that larger images are not displayed unnecessarily, which slows down page loading times.
Step 3. Use a Simple WordPress theme (for WordPress users)
There are so many WordPress themes out there. If you use WordPress, it’s all too easy to get caught up in how beautiful or powerful a theme looks at first, with all of its shiny bells, whistles, and scrolling images. However, many WordPress themes will slow down the page loading of your site the more features or plugins they offer or use. So, consider your priorities, and choose a balance between functionality, visitor experience, and page loading speed.
Step 4. Consider using a Caching Plugin (for WordPress users)
If you use WordPress, consider using a good caching plugin to intelligently cache and load files, CSS, etc. A decent caching plugin can make a significant difference, especially if you are chasing performance results. We use WP Rocket, which we mention on our Friends and Affiliates page.
Step 5. Use less WordPress plugins (for WordPress users)
Although we recommend an excellent caching plugin (in Step 4 above), if website speed is a priority, try only to use the plugins you need. For example, it’s nice to have beautiful comment fields with lots of colorful emoji; however, make sure such plugins are not slowing down your page loading times or causing other errors. The good news is that with everything you do, you can check the website speed to see if it makes a difference. Be sure to clear browsing data or use an InPrivate window to get the latest results.
Step 6. Link to less scripts and less third-party content
Websites and blogs often use and rely on third-party content, like Google fonts, font systems like Font Awesome, analytics scripts like Google Analytics, social media scripts, and more. When your website loads, it has to communicate with, access, or download this third-party content, slowing down the page loading a touch.
Therefore, if you’re chasing page speed numbers, try not to rely on many third-party scripts. As mentioned in step 4, using a caching plugin will help manage this script caching more efficiently.
Step 7. Reduce the amount of content on the page
In a quest to improve their Search Engine Optimization (SEO), many people strive to get as much content out there as possible. Be aware that a lot of content on a single page, especially images, can slow down that web page. So, you might consider this when setting up your blog, especially the front page.
You can lazy load content so that it’s only loaded when the user scrolls down to it. Caching plugins like WP Rocket have settings to take care of lazy loading for you.
Step 8. Use a decent domain host
Be careful when choosing a web host. Be sure to find out the speeds and hardware they offer. Try to stick with dedicated and enthusiastic professionals. Many companies out there don’t really care about reputation or the customer experience, so do your homework and shop around or move on if your experience is not to your standard.
Step 9. Consider using a CDN (not always necessary)
If you are a business with many visitors worldwide, you might consider using a Content Delivery Network (CDN). A CDN will upload your content to different servers in different national or international locations, making it quicker for your global visitors to access your content nearer their location. In our case, we have a fast web host, so we haven’t seen a need to use a CDN at this point.
How to test your website speed
Now we know the fundamentals of speeding up a website, it’s time to test your website speed.
(Try using a private window when testing)
If you use various extensions in your browser, you might consider testing website speed using an InPrivate or Incognito window. InPrivate windows don’t use browser extensions, which can rely on third-party scripts and/or affect the loading speed of a web page.
To open an InPrivate Window, do the following: In Microsoft Edge, press Ctrl+Shift+N, in Google Chrome, Ctrl+Shift+N, in Firefox, Ctrl+Shift+P, in Opera, Ctrl+Shift+N. Whichever web browser you are using, the Private window option is usually found within the main menu, which you can open by clicking Alt+F.
Ways to test your website speed
Whether you use a private window (recommended) or not, here are some of the main and most popular ways to test your website speed. They’re in no particular order:
A. Lighthouse (Built-in to the browser)
Lighthouse is a speed test built into the developer tools of some web browsers. It has audits for performance, accessibility, progressive web apps, SEO, and more. If you use a Chromium-based web browser like Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge, you can access the built-in Developer Tools by pressing F12 on your keyboard (whilst in the browser). Click on the Lighthouse tab and choose Desktop or Mobile to test how fast your website loads for either type of device. Here’s a sample image:
Some other browsers also have Lighthouse built into their developer tools. If you use Opera, for example, you can access the developer tools by pressing Ctrl+Shift+I. From there, you will also see the tab for Lighthouse.
B. PageSpeed Insights
Lighthouse is based on Google’s PageSpeed Insights, which you can access in any browser. Just visit PageSpeed Insights (or click on the sample image below to open PageSpeed Insights in another tab), enter your website URL, and click Analyze.
GTmetrix.com is a great site for checking your website speed. Click the sample image below to open GTmetrix.com in another tab, enter your website URL and click on Test your site.
Pingdom.com is another popular online website speed test. It is now a paid service, although you can sign up for a free 30-day trial. (No credit info needed.)
If you follow the basic concepts on this page, you should increase your website loading times with no problem. If you’re all about the numbers (or lack of them), you might enjoy seeing incremental performance gains with each step. Just following Step 1 can make a big difference for many people.
The above website speed tests can provide plenty of detailed information for your site or blog. There are more website performance tests and services available online, although you might need to sign up to use them. To get you started, trying Lighthouse, PageSpeed Insights, and GTmetrix above should give you a good idea of where you are.
Let us know how you managed to improve your website speeds. Thanks for reading.