How to Optimise Your Business Website for Performance
Websites are no longer a nice-to-have and have become essential for any business looking to grow. A good business website helps to build credibility and trust with customers on multiple levels but having a website also has its downsides.
Keeping a business website properly maintained is a growing challenge especially as your business scales up. Website performance is a key factor not only for customers but Google too.
Poor website performance will lower your website rankings in organic search, lower conversion rates and reflect poorly on the user experience. Edgemesh notes that a slow-loading website impacts nearly 70% of consumers’ willingness to buy a product from a business.
Google’s Performance Metrics
Google rewards fast websites with higher rankings and more organic traffic. This also extends to e-commerce stores, the longer your store takes to load, the lower you’ll rank. In order to appear in the top results of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) your website speed needs to be above average. Improving your page speed is also one of the easiest ways to improve user experience, which is why we recommend first optimising your website for Google’s Core Web Vitals.
The UX metrics for Core Web Vitals can be broken down into 3 parts, each with its own unique Google metric
When analysing loading speed Google measures Largest Contentful Paint (LCP).
LCP is the time it takes for a page’s main content to load.
When analysing the speed of interactivity Google measures the First Input Delay (FID).
FID is the time it takes for a page to become interactive.
When analysing the visual stability of your website Google measures the Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).
CLS is the number of unexpected layout shifts of visual page content.
Checklist for Improving Website Performance
When looking for ways to improve the performance of a business website there are specific backend solutions needed to reach full optimization.
Optimise your Image Sizes
Quality images are visually appealing but slow down the speed of a website due to their size. While removing them isn’t an option, the best solution is to optimise your image sizes. This can be done by compressing the images on a compression tool like Tiny PNG. The benefit of using a compression tool is that it compresses your image size without compromising the quality.
However, Google does recommend you serve images in a more modern format like WebP, which may provide better compression than that of PNG or JPG formats. Using WebP results in faster downloads, less data consumption and optimises images further by making them more responsive.
Minimise Time to First Byte
Search Engine Journal notes that while LCP is the topline loading metric, it is also highly dependent on First Contentful Paint (FCP) and Time to First Byte (TTFB) which are also critical to monitor and improve. TTFB is the time it takes the browser to receive the first information from the server. TTFB helps us evaluate the time it takes your website to respond to a user’s request.
Some helpful tips to consider for improving your TTFB include:
- Switching to a faster hosting provider
- Updating your plugins and themes regularly
- Using CDNs to reduce latency between servers and users
- Improving your database queries
- Using client-side caching
- Keeping your PHP updated (WordPress)
Use Content Delivery Network (CDN) Servers
Content Delivery Networks (CDN) consist of a geographically distributed network of servers that provide quicker delivery of content to a user. The system captures a copy of your website on several servers in the world. When a user requests any information on your website, the CDN provides a copy from the closest server. This eliminates delays in providing the information as the distance between the server and a user’s location can be a reason for poor website performance.
When visiting a website for the first time it might be slow at first, but when you return you might notice a difference in speed. That is probably due to the use of a browser-based cache. Generally, web caching is when data from a website is stored on a computer or server temporarily for quicker access when re-visiting. If caching is disabled on the user’s browser the browser must submit a new request every time the user visits your website. This causes latency and decreases the performance of your website. If your website is cached effectively, and regardless of the browser settings, the server or your website can still deliver a cached duplicate to speed up performance.
There are 4 caching options available, but not all are within our control which is why multiple caching solutions are recommended:
1. Browser Cache
A browser cache is managed by your browsers like Chrome, Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.
When to use a Browser Cache?
A popular and effective client-side cache for reducing data consumption while browsing, but this can also be disabled by the user which limits its effectiveness.
2. Site Cache
A site cache is managed by a CMS like WordPress or a specific plugin.
When to use a Site Cache?
A site cache is ideal for static content that doesn’t get updated regularly.
3. Server Cache
A server cache is managed by specific servers like a Content Delivery Network or your hosting servers.
When to use a Server Cache?
A server cache is best for high-traffic websites that need to reduce server strain.
4. Micro Cache
A micro cache requires root server access by skilled developers.
When to use a Micro Cache?
A micro cache is a targeted option best used for highly dynamic sites.
Get Your Website Ready for Performance Marketing
Our SEO experts and web developers are well-equipped to optimise your website to ensure that it delivers optimum results and speed. Speak to Adclick Africa for performance marketing solutions and SEO insights from a certified Google Partner.