Your website’s load speed is incredibly important. According to Strange Loop, even just a 1 second increase in the amount of time it takes a page to load can result in:
- A 7% loss in conversions
- 11% less page views
- A 16% decrease in customer satisfaction
Furthermore, according to Akamai, 47% of people expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less and 57% of people will leave your website if the page takes 3 seconds or longer to load!
The ever increasing number of mobile web users even expect that a website loads faster on a mobile device than it does on a desktop computer.
In 2010 Google announced that it would use web page load times as a ranking factor. Their reasoning is that a faster loading website results in a better user experience.
Not only does your load times impact your site’s SEO though, if you’re running Adwords campaigns it also impacts your quality score. If your site has high load times you’re going to have your ads rank lower than your competition and you’ll have to pay more per click.
How to Determine Your Website’s Load Time
There are a couple of free and easy to use tools out there to test how fast your website loads.
Google has their own tool called PageSpeed Insights. You simply have to enter the URL for the page you want to test, wait a few seconds and Google will give you a detailed score for the mobile and desktop versions of your website as well as your user experience.
Another free tool you can use is the Pingdom Website Speed Test. This works just like the PageSpeed Insights test except you can also add in a location to test from as well.
How to Improve Your Load Times
There are lots of ways you can improve your site’s load times and here are some strategies that you can start implementing today.
1) Get Better Web Hosting
Your web hosting has probably the largest impact on the speed of your website.
If you’re paying for very cheap web hosting then your website is most likely hosted on a very low-end server. Furthermore there are multiple different kinds of web hosting such as shared hosting, VPN hosting, dedicated hosting and WordPress optimized hosting.
With shared hosting all the websites on the server share the same resources. This is the most inexpensive type of web hosting out there and if other sites on the server are using up most of the resources due to high traffic for example then the performance of your website will suffer.
VPN hosting sections off different sections of a web server so each website gets their own chunk of the server’s resources so you don’t have to worry about other sites using up your share.
Dedicated hosting provides you with an entire service just for your website.
WordPress optimized hosting provides you with either a VPN or dedicated server that’s fully optimized for WordPress. If your running a WordPress website then switching to WordPress optimized hosting like WP Engine can have a big impact on your site’s load times.
2) Use Browser Caching
With browser caching files on your website are saved on local computers which can greatly increase load times especially with repeat visitors.
When someone visits your website lots of different files are loaded and common files such as your site’s logo that appear on every page get saved in the browser’s cache so they don’t need to be loaded every time in the future.
If you’re using dedicated WordPress hosting like WP Engine then you don’t need to worry about caching as they’ll take care of everything for you.
If you’re using a different kind of web hosting but still have a WordPress website we recommend the free plugin called WP Super Cache.
3) Optimize the Images on Your Website
If your site has lots of images then this can lead to a very large amount of data that needs to be loaded every time someone visits your site.
If possible use a program such as Adobe Photoshop to resize your images to the exact resolutions they need to be.
If you’re not able to resize your images be sure to at least compress them using a free tool like compressjpg.com. By uploading and compressing your images with a tool like compressjpg.com you can reduce their file size from 70% to 90% without noticing any difference in the image quality.
Compressing the file size of your images makes a huge impact on your site’s load times.
4) Turn Off Unused Plugins
If you’re running a WordPress website or any other type of website that lets you install plugins it’s best to keep the amount of plugins installed to an absolute minimum.
The more plugins you have installed the more things need to be loaded and more requests are made to the server slowing down your site.
Do an audit of your plugins and uninstall anything that’s not absolutely important.
5) Set Up Expires Headers
Expires Headers tells the browser when it should request new versions of the files from the web server itself rather than the browser’s cache.
For example you can configure this so browsers will only request a new version of a file every month and won’t try again until the month has passed. This can greatly decrease the number of requests on your server and improve load time since the file isn’t repeatedly being loaded.
You can find a quick tutorial for setting up Expires Headers here. Setting this up is a little bit more advanced and you’ll need a little bit of an idea of what you’re doing but it’s not too difficult.
Today’s real estate websites not only need to look professional and beautiful, be user friendly and mobile friendly but they also need to load as fast as possible.
This can seem a bit overwhelming but by using the tips in this post you should see a noticeable improvement in the performance of your website.