The Internet should be fast.
At least that’s what Google says. In line with an announcement the search engine made last year, the speed of a website is now officially a ranking factor in Google’s search algorithm. While the new ranking factor impacts very few queries, the change is still a significant development.
We here at Lakeshore Branding are all for it. Indeed, the Internet should be fast. It should snap, show, and respond quickly. Whether you’re a small business owner, an Internet marketer, or an e-Commerce retailer, it’s important to understand that the speed at which your site loads can affect the level of engagement that you will have with your audience. Create a page that loads at a snail’s pace, and chances are that you’re shooing visitors and potential clients away. After all, no one wants to wait for a website or a page to load forever.
So here’s a list of simple formatting tips to keep your site from slowing down. Don’t worry: you don’t have to be a programmer or web developer to follow these tips.
Okay, don’t worry. This first tip will be, by far, the most technical of the lot. But it’s important to note that CSS – or Cascading Style Sheets – is one language that helps you style your web pages in such a way that they load fast. It also functions pretty well with content management systems commonly used by small businesses and e-Commerce sites. That’s because the browser caches CSS style sheets, including formatting and styling, and reads from this cache, so that there’s no need for reloading every time it’s used on several other pages. In short, CSS allows you to reduce data transfer over a network – thus making for quicker, search-friendlier page loads.
Limit your Flash
No matter what Apple says, Flash will still be around for a long time. It’s still an awesome tool for publishing and embedding rich multimedia content, among other things. It’s still great for flashy intros and animation. But do avoid using too much of it; otherwise your site speed is likely to go down. When building or designing your website, use Flash only sparingly – and whenever you do use it, make sure you compress the files, so that the content on your Flash as well as on the rest of your site can load – well, in a flash.
Don’t use every trick in the book
Your website, blog, or e-Commerce site isn’t supposed to be a showcase of what you or your web designer can do with a web page. It should instead be about what you can offer to your visitors and potential clients. Stick to what’s relevant to your business. Be relevant without being too flashy. Show style but not in a way that compromises substance. Strike the right balance between useful, compelling content and engaging presentation – and, along the way, optimize your site for the fastest possible speed. It’s always helpful to examine your website and let go of any element that you don’t really need.
Opt for several short pages instead of few long ones
It is best practice to split up long pages into shorter ones, not just because this helps your website load faster, but also because it renders your content more attractive to read and easier to digest. Let’s face it: we’ve all been turned off at some point by long scroll bars and clutters of information below the fold. Keep yourself from making the same mistake.
Use fewer widgets
Sure, widgets add a touch of awesome to your website. But make sure it’s just a “touch”, and not a slobbery of things here and there that make your site look messier and load slower. And add only the widgets that enhance your site – not the ones that might distract your visitors from what the focus of your content is.
Compress those images
High-resolution images are great, especially if you run an e-Commerce site with a catalog for your products and services. But avoid uploading thousands of your product shots and photos without compressing them first. Set the dimensions of all images and photos within the code, and – if you’re going to be using thumbnails – make sure these open in a new tab when clicked by a user. It’s also recommended that you optimize your images so that they’re of a smaller file size, thus contributing to quicker page loads.