5 Simple Tips to Optimize Your Content for Website Speed

As any fan of a good Western movie knows, the quickdraw is a classic piece of the magic: when two cowboys try and outgun each other by drawing from the hip the fastest. If you’re not quick enough, you’re not going to make it to the finale.

Here’s something funny though: the same lesson learned from a classic quickdraw is also a good lesson to be applied to your website. It’s all about speed.

I’m a big fan of the Coen Brothers, and some of their movies are some of my all-time favorites.

I was especially drawn to the recent Ballad of Buster Scruggs. That scene in the beginning with the eponymous Buster Scruggs himself is an instant classic-and not only for Tim Blake Nelson singing three fantastic songs in a row.

In Buster Scruggs, things start out with a great quickdraw scene. Buster thinks he’s the fastest gun in the West, but the truth is… well, I won’t spoil it for you, but he’s not all he’s cracked up to be.

If you want your website to grab your users quickly, you simply can’t leave them waiting for your content to load. A slow loading time for your site is a lot like leaving your iron in leather during a duel: you probably won’t make it to the other side like you’d hoped.

Fortunately, you don’t have to live life on the range to learn the tricks to quick website speed. By following just a few key tips to boost the speed of your content, you can make your site home to the quickest-loading content on the Wild Wild Web.

Website Speed Is Crucial

You can spend a lot of time looking into the psychology of loading speed and wait time for websites, but I think we all understand a simple fact: these days, nobody has an attention span that can handle waiting for even a few seconds.

Multiply this short attention span by the huge amount of competition your content is up against on the web, and it becomes clear that no user is going to stick around too long just to see your content.

Website speed actually has a measurable impact on conversions and engagement. Too slow, and you’ll lose readers and customers quick-and given a bad enough experience, they may not ever come back for more.

But maybe even more important: a slow website can do serious damage to your rankings in Google. Since 2018, Page Speed has been an official ranking factor for landing pages in Google Search and Google Ads, and too slow of a page speed can actually sink your quality score enough to affect your ranking in both areas.

Here’s the good news: you don’t necessarily have to settle for less to boost your page speed. It’s not about stripping your site down to the bare minimum, but making what you have work the best as it can.

When You’re Thinking Speed, Think Mobile First

Since around 2016, Google has indexed sites on a “ mobile-first” basis -meaning the speed and quality of your mobile site will have more of an impact than your desktop site.

When you’re building your content, designing your site, and implementing your plugins, be sure to shift your thinking to mobile first, and test your page speed on mobile and desktop using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

5 Tips for Improving Your Content to Maximize Website Speed

Let’s keep things mostly out of the technical, all-site realm of pagespeed and focus mainly on the factors that will impact your content.

1. Optimize Your Images

If you’re looking for an easy way to optimize your images for website speed, try using a compression tool like TinyPNG to keep your images on the small side without sacrificing too much quality.

Similarly, consider focusing your image optimization on sizing for mobile. This means prioritizing smaller images optimized for thinner screen sizes, which can load on mobile quickly and won’t require a lot of resizing from your styling.

2. Consider Asynchronous Loading

So, rather than loading your entire page of content all at once, why not have your pages load to meet them as they scroll instead?

This is called “asynchronous loading,” and it’s a neat way to deliver your on-page content further down the page only as users scroll down. That way, features like images and other media-along with text and other plugins-can defer loading until needed.

Asynchronous loading helps decrease the amount of heavy lifting your site needs to do when the page is first opened, and could help boost your pagespeed.

3. Turn On Browser Caching

They’ve already visited the page before (and gone through all that effort to load the content)… why make them keep reloading each time they visit?

Browser caching lets users load the same page almost instantly by drawing from a previously-loaded, cached version of the page. Although this may not be the most up-to-date version of the page, it can make getting to that content easy and efficient, even offline, for quick reference.

As long as your design or content isn’t changing rapidly for each page, your cached copy should be just fine.

4. Cut Down on Redirects

However, too many redirects can wreak havoc on your pagespeed, as the action of processing the request and redirecting the user adds an extra, labor-intensive step for your website to fulfil for each page visitor.

Unfortunately, there simply aren’t a lot of solutions to help with this problem. A redirect is a redirect, and sometimes it’s necessary-just try to minimize the amount of redirects you’re using across your site as much as possible.

5. Minify Your CSS, HTML, and Javascript

If you are using a lot of custom Javascript or styling-a problem common to many older or highly customized sites, where changes and updates may have been made slowly over time by hand-clunky code or large scripts can sometimes slow down page speed by forcing this code to load before the major elements of the page.

By minifying your CSS, HTML, and Javascript, you can speed up the loading process. The minifying process can cut the whitespace and unnecessary CSS, sometimes combining or consolidating code (or shortening code itself) to streamline loading for quick display.

Use minify tools to test your code for unnecessary slowdowns throughout your site and your most important content will likely benefit as well.

Don’t Let Slow Page Speed Hobble Your Best Content

Keeping your users waiting for your content to load is a surefire way to miss out on good traffic, good conversions, and an overall good UX. That could do serious damage to your site’s effectiveness.

Before you find your site buried neck-deep in a ditch due to slow page speed, get to work on these simple tips and you may just manage to get yourself back on the top of your game. If you still need a helping hand, we’re happy to help. Just give us a holler and we’ll be your trusted riding partner.

Written by Conor Snell | Content & Social Media Strategist at Altos

We are a digital marketing agency specializing in web design and development, eCommerce, search, and social media marketing.