Having a speedy website has always been important. Mostly to keep your human visitors happy.
We're incredibly intolerant of slow loading websites, aren't we? If it's more than a few seconds, we'll hit the back button.
This one factor alone could cost you tens of thousands of lost revenue. Imagine a business owner, fed up with their incumbent MSP, and FINALLY ready to take action on their unhappiness... so they do some Googling.
One of the sites they visit is yours. You've actually got a cracking website, full of videos, social proof, engagement, and relevant content that talks at their level to trigger a positive emotional reaction.
But... it's really slow to load... and they can't be bothered to wait. So they hit the back button, and look at another MSP's website instead.
Damn damn damn.
But this is how ordinary people work. You can't change their behaviour.
Anyway, I digress. Apart from humans, there's now another reason to make sure that your website is speedy - because Google says so.
Last year it revealed something called Core Web Vitals. They're three more ways that Google will be judging how good your website is.
The three ways have jargony, ridiculously hard to remember titles. Let me explain them:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): How long it takes a page to fully load, so someone can start using it
- First Input Delay (FID): How long before someone can interact with your page
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): How much elements on your page move about as people read it. The more it moves, the worse your score
Google announced at the back end of 2020, that from May this year Core Web Vitals will become ranking signals. Which means your score on Core Web Vitals will start to affect your search engine position.
Put another way...
If your website is slow to load...
Or it's slow for people to be able to interact with it...
Or things frustratingly move around on the page...
You're going to be punished by appearing lower down in search results. Simple as.
So there we have it. That's what it boils down to.
It means that things like user experience and loading speeds are now more important than ever before.
To be fair, Google is making it really easy for you to see how your MSP performs, and fix it. In Search Console, under Enhancements you can run a Core Web Vitals report to see how your site needs improving.
On this report, you may see that an LCP issue has been detected - remember, this measures how long it takes for the largest piece of content to appear on the screen.
A good LCP score is within 2.5 seconds. But you may find that several of your URLs fall under the “needs improvement” category.
If that's the case - here are 14 ways for you to give your MSP's website speed a boost.
- Review your website hosting provider
Hosting providers are often a source of website speed issues. If you are currently using a shared hosting account or virtual private server, you may find that a dedicated server will significantly boost your speed. Of course this will be more expensive than a shared option, however if speed is important, it is likely to be worth the outlay.
- Consider using a content delivery network
A content delivery network stores the content of your website in multiple networks. This means that when a visitor opens your website, the network automatically chooses the server closest to them to optimise website speed. There are several providers available, so it is worth comparing options. Being honest, this might be overkill for the average MSP. But I wanted to make sure you knew about it.
3. Optimise website images
Of course images make your website more appealing. However high-resolution images will have a significant impact on page load times. Any images should be compressed before they are added to your site. If you're using WordPress, there are plugins that will do this for you.
4. Control HTTPS requests
As your site expands, there will be increasing HTTPS requests relating to images, fonts, stylesheets, and scripts. These will all impact the overall time it takes for your site to load. Google Developer Tools are a great way to pinpoint issues and will make it possible to remove old and more complex requests.
5. Limit total redirects
Redirects are a great way to direct visitors to high-traffic, high-ranking pages with your most relevant content. However, the more redirects you have, the longer the load time of your site. Try to reduce the number of older redirects on your site and replace with fresh new content.
6. Compress file sizes
I've already mentioned compressing images. However it's also possible to compress many other file types. There are many free tools available online which will allow you to compress files stored on your website, without compromising on quality. The lower the file size, the faster your website. Simple rule.
7. Make use of caching
Caching will provide various browsers with your website's content, so that it can be pre-loaded to improve page load times. Most content management systems are designed to provide this caching information automatically, so the most recent version of your site is available. However, if your content does not change regularly, it may be worth extending the caching timeframe within your management system.
8. Ensure your website is mobile friendly
More people than ever are browsing websites using mobile devices. So it's essential that your website is mobile-friendly. Without mobile optimisation, your website will struggle with interactivity issues and load times, which your visitors will quickly lose patience with. A mobile orientated website with maximum page load speeds will improve conversion rates.
9. Track 404 errors
If someone tries to access a page which is no longer available, they will be presented with a page not found warning, otherwise known as a 404 error. If they land on one of these pages, they'll just hit the back button and go to someone else's site. There are free tools which will track your 404 errors, allowing you to remove dead links and resolve issues.
10. Review your content management system
The content management system you use will have a significant impact on your website's performance. If your website is slow and is not converting, you may need to switch to a new system. You could take the time to do your research and find the system which works best for you. Or just follow what 75 million other people are doing, and use WordPress.
11. Combine your key files
12. Choose asynchronous loading
There are many functions and files within your website that are automatically loaded synchronously. Basically, this means that they are loaded in the order that they appear on each website page. In many cases, the full page will only display once all elements are ready. However, there are various CMS tools which will allow the various elements to load asynchronously, so people can start reading while the rest of the page is loading in the background. Just be careful that the page elements don't move around when this happens.
13. Reduce the number of fonts
The web fonts you use can be a great way to make your website stand out, but they will impact the speed of your site. If they incorporate unique character sets and there are many font families used, the page load speed will be reduced. Try to use the fewest fonts possible and choose those which are optimised for the latest browser versions.
14. Search for plugin issues
Plugins can be a range of brilliant features, in terms of managing the site and improving the visitor experience. However, if they are used to perform large database queries or must load a large number of assets, they can impact the overall performance of the site. Try to look out for potential issues and only use the latest available versions of the various plugins.