Ultimate Website Speed Optimization Techniques for small businesses

Website speed optimization is a crucial part of SEO because it affects how well your site is seen by search engines. Therefore, you should always be on the lookout for opportunities to improve the speed of your website (also known as “Page Speed”). However, there are many times when it’s not feasible or desirable to make changes to your website’s code. This is especially true if you’re working with a content provider like us. In these situations, you can use techniques that don’t involve changing the actual code of your website. These techniques are called “Server Side Includes” (SSI) or “Output Encoding” and they let you include pieces of HTML code in the page’s source code which will then be sent to the webserver unaltered. This gives you a way to insert small bits of HTML into your website pages without having to touch a single line of code.

Above the fold optimization

As part of optimizing the speed, above-the-fold optimization is important. The above-the-fold refers to the first part of the screen a user sees when he visits your site. It basically means the first part of your website he/she has to scroll down to see. Therefore, anything you can do to keep them from having to scroll at all is a good thing. One technique we use a lot is to put CSS stylesheets at the top of the page. By doing this we avoid having to send a separate request for these files to the client’s browser. This alone can save several milliseconds. Another trick is to use inline styling. By default, browsers make a new HTTP request for every style sheet they encounter. However, if you have your CSS code directly inside the HTML document, the browser will only make one request instead of many. Of course, the trade-off is that the code becomes harder to edit. But in many cases, the speed gain is worth the minor hassle of updating your CSS code. There are other techniques as well which help improve website speed.

Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network) on your website

Using a CDN (Content Delivery Network) can also provide great value by reducing the latency time (the amount of time it takes for a web server to send a file to a client) and thus reducing “above the fold” delays. When a user requests a specific URL, his browser sends an HTTP request to the web server hosting that site. This web server then looks up the IP address of the visitor’s computer and delivers the requested file from the nearest server possible which is geographically close to the visitor. In the case of a CDN, this means files from the CDN servers which are closer to the user. If you have a static website where users do not interact with the website (such as when they are viewing it), using a CDN can actually increase performance because it reduces the number of HTTP requests needed to deliver a page to the user. But, if your website gets a significant amount of traffic, using a CDN can dramatically decrease the time it takes for your website to load.

Optimize your images

Another method is to Optimize your images, this will help a lot especially with JPG and PNG images. To begin with, always use the maximum resolution your image will display at. Next, resize your image so that the longest side is only 1/4 of the original size. Then, using an image optimization tool such as Photoshop/Illustrator you can optimize the file even further. This process involves compressing the image and removing any unused colors or transparency. In many cases, you can actually achieve greater image compression by simply reducing the number of colors or shades of gray in your image. That’s because many images have a large amount of “noise” or color that is not necessary for effective viewing. When you compress an image, you are actually creating a new file with much fewer colors. If your image was originally composed with 32,000 colors, chances are, after you compress it, you will only have 2,000 colors left. Of course, this means you will have to make some rather difficult decisions about what to do with all those “empty” colors in your image.

Remove unused plugins and code that isn’t required

Removing unused plugins/code if you are using a content platform like WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, etc., or even asking your developer to remove javascript that is not extremely important will help speed up your website. The biggest time suck on any website is loading the CSS and Javascript files that are required for your site to function properly. There are many tools out there that can analyze the CSS and Javascript on your site and tell you which ones are not being used at all. Or, which ones are only being used once or twice. Or, which ones are being used more than once but, are not being cached by the user’s browser. What this means is that every time your visitor views your website, he/she has to wait for these large files to be fetched from your server. This delays the display of your website and, therefore, decreases the number of visitors you will receive. So what you should do (as far as possible) is to only load the CSS and Javascript files that are absolutely necessary for your website to function properly.

Here are a few more tips for optimizing your CSS and Javascript:

  • Only use CSS and Javascript that is absolutely necessary for your website to function properly.
  • Minify your CSS and Javascript as much as possible by removing any code that is not absolutely needed.

The one nobody talks about

Better Hosting Plan for your Website

Get a better hosting service or upgrade your plan. A better hosting service will improve your website by improving the speed with which your website loads. It will also increase the size of the file you can upload without your site being “re-uploaded” by your host. A better hosting service will also give you more disk space and bandwidth. If you are on a shared hosting account, this is going to be very difficult if not impossible for you to achieve. But, if you are on a VPS or dedicated server, this is something you should take care of immediately. So, there you have it. What I think are the 10 most important things you should do to optimize the performance of your website. Hopefully, after reading this blog, you will now have the tools and the knowledge to make a dramatic improvement in the performance of your website. And, if you do end up hiring me to help you with your website project, I will teach you even more about what really makes a website perform. And remember, the most important thing you can do to optimize the performance of your website is simply… Deliver Value! If your website delivers value, your visitors will come back, they will tell others about your website and thus, you will get a constant stream of fresh traffic.

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