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
Before we dive into how to boost your website speed, it’s a good idea to think about why website speed is so important to think about in the first place.
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
An important note on page speed: these days, it’s all about mobile.
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
Improving your blog, news, press, or other published content for optimal website speed isn’t hard, and can be achieved pretty simply. But it does take some planning, and a little knowledge as to best practices.
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
I like a good, high-quality PNG or JPG as much as anybody-in fact, high-quality imagery can often be among the most useful content included on your site. However, if your visual assets are too big, they can take a long time (and a lot of processing power) to load. That can really drag down your pagespeed, especially on mobile.
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
You users are going to scroll through your pages from top to bottom, and rarely (if ever) will they immediately need to view your entire page content. After all, nobody’s screen is that long.
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
Have a banger blog post your users keep coming back to again and again?
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
Everybody likes to update blog posts and revamp old content, and sometimes you need to set up a true 301 redirect to push old links to your new, updated content. This is especially true if you are updating URLs, or moving content to a different part of your website.
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.
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
You may think your website is a master of the quickdraw when it comes to page speed… but when it’s up against your users’ urge to click the back button, your site might not be as skilled as you thought.
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.
Originally published at https://altosagency.com/blog/website-design/5-simple-tips-to-optimize-your-content-for-website-speed on Jan. 19, 2021.