Today’s powerful flashy web 2.0 destinations are a far cry from the basic text and small images only properties of old. As websites have got more complex and hence more resource intensive surfers have at the same time gotten less patient. In 1999 a visitor to your site might have waited 8-10 seconds for it to load. These days they’ll get impatient with anything greater than a 2 second wait.
If your site is too slow your bounce rate might go up, visitors may load fewer pages, cart abandonment may be a big problem and it’s hardly likely to engender positive social media references.
Your SEO efforts can receive a big boost from addressing site performance issues. Website speed is taken into account in Google’s algorithm, they say: “Faster sites create happy users” and “Like us, our users place a lot of value in speed – that’s why we’ve decided to take site speed into account in our search rankings.”
So how can you start to address performance issues? Let’s first of all look at the server your website is running on. If you’re running your website on shared hosting – which is practically impossible with some ecommerce platforms like Magento – you really want to look at upgrading to a VPS, or Virtual Private Server. Already on a VPS? Then your provider likely offers a very simple interface for increasing the power of your server, such as memory and CPU. Refer to your software’s documentation (or your developer) and allocate at least their recommendations – more if you can to future proof it.
You can also get more out of your server by optimising the software. Remove or disable unused programs to free up more memory and CPU. Look at software such as your web server and your platform – again, what services or plugins can be disabled? Does your platform offer speed improvements such as caching or compilation?
A word of warning though: ensure you know what you are doing when you disable items as you could inadvertently cause your website to break, be less secure or slow down – exactly the opposite of what we want!
If you receive global visits and your traffic is particularly high you may want to invest in using a CDN – Content Delivery Network. These services distribute your content amongst several locations and your visitors are simply directed to the optimal one. There is more to it than this of course, but it can be an effective way of boosting site performance.
Optimise your content
You can increase your website’s performance by making some decisions about the media you use on your website. You need to strike the right balance when choosing your encoding quality – too low will look (or sound) poor, but too high impacts your websites performance negatively.
Maybe some items are extraneous and can be removed entirely? Maybe you overdid it on the flashy animations? On a personal note – and I believe I’m not alone here – please don’t give me an introductory video/animation before I can get into your website. For me making it skippable doesn’t really help either! (Opinions may vary!)