Most bloggers don’t like to talk about site load times, but it’s sometimes the difference between having abundant traffic and having none. The truth is no matter how interesting the picture and title of your articles are if it takes too long to load the page they’ll leave. No one enjoys looking at a white screen.
It seems most bloggers declare that load times are constants, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it, but you couldn’t be more wrong. I’ve spent many long hours optimizing websites, and I’ve learned many things. For example, I originally had killadj.com and tipsywriter.com loading pages at around 12-18 seconds, which is grotesque amount of time for any website. I’ve since optimized them considerably, so that with an adequate connection the site load times are down to 2.5-3.5 seconds. Now, that’s not Google site load times, which are usually under 1 second, but it’s in the Amazon & Facebook range.
Here’s how load times typically break:
~ 1 second – Google, Wikipedia, Apple.com
~ 2-3 seconds – Amazon, Facebook, & Twitter
~ 3-5 seconds – Most Newspapers & Blogs
~ 5-7 seconds – Blogs & Newsources with more photos and images
~ < 7 seconds – Not so good.
Anything beyond 7 seconds becomes a test of the prospective reader’s patience.
Page load times are a big part of SEO. Having a slow load time will severely restrict your potential with Google. Now, that we know where we need to be and the problems with not being there, let’s talk about how we can get to the virtuoso of being below 3 second load times.
1. Initially load as needed content & stage the rest
Most web developers already know this, but bloggers tend to forget this. Most blogging themes should have this built in, but many bloggers find ways to sabotaging this. Most blog themes have settings that say: “How many posts displayed on the front page?” The trick is not to put 20. Let’s try a handful 3-6 or 1 to 2 rows of posts. It should be a sampling of what is new and what is good. It should not be your entire website. The more pictures it has to load the more time it will take.
Be mindful of widgets too. Widgets load on every page, so it’s important to have those take as little time to load.
2. Upgrade your hosting
This really depends on your traffic. Basic shared-hosting packages are great for anyone with sub-10 people on the website at any time. Business shared-hosting is great for anything below 30 people viewing your website at a time. Then you have VPS (having access to your own virtual machine) or renting out an entire server for your website. VPS and dedicated servers won’t boost your ability to take on more people like going from basic to business will provide. However, they will prevent other websites from making your website crash or putting additional strain on your websites from their high traffic. VPS should be able to handle up to 50 simulations connections, and dedicated depending on the machine should handle 75-100 simulations connections.
3. Go Cloud
Usually, people host websites on one server. The trouble with that is that you’re making all your readers connect to one machine in a particular location, which does not change on their location. For example, without a cloud backend you would be reading this from a server in Utah where my server is located. However, you’re probably not. You’re probably reading this on a server much closer to you.
Cloud networks allows your server to push content to a cloud network, and a cloud network is hundreds to thousands of servers all around the world. I use CloudFlare, but there are a bunch out there. The biggest cloud network would be Amazon, and you can put your blog directly on EC2. Most major websites use a cloud network because it drastically reduces load times. It also caches websites, so if your server goes down, readers can still go to a last updated website. This also helps with Google, so you don’t get any crawl errors. This is honestly one of the best things I’ve done.
4. Use Web-Optimized Photos
As much as I love 300 DPI images, it just doesn’t make sense online. Asking your users to download 10 MB photos + is a bit like asking your car to only drive 15 miles per hour. Your car can, but you won’t enjoy it. Using web-optimized photos, which are no bigger than 1-2 MB photos, will make your site load properly and make your readers much happier. Now, always be mindful of the amount of photos your asking readers to load. Even 1-2 MB photos will be hard for readers if they’re loading 20 of them. Just try to keep the total size of images being load below 5 MB.
5. Host as much as you can
I’ve seen this time and time again. Websites that source their images from other websites are more likely to struggle with page load times. The trouble is your reader’s browser is attempting to load your website’s content, but before it finishes it then goes to every single server that is has embedded photos and videos and attempts to load those as well. Typically, you’d never notice it, but when you do it’s frustrating. My personal philosophy is control as much as you can with your website so try to put all the content on your website. Just be careful with copyrights, and in my personal opinion it’s always a good idea not to embed images that you do not possess the rights to. An image credit while nice isn’t legally recognized as suitable option to use copyrighted photos. Don’t let Buzzfeed fool you.
Let’s join together and make the internet a faster place.