page load time affects overall page performance
Trudi Holden
January 10, 2024

10 Free Ways To Power Up Your Website Speed

Has your website speed been acting like it’s stuck in a traffic jam lately?

You click on a page, and it takes an age to respond, leaving you drumming your fingers impatiently. You’re not alone. We’ve all found ourselves asking the same question: “Why is my website running as slow as a snail on a lazy Sunday afternoon?”

The answer is simple – your website speed may need a power-up! And the good news is, you don’t have to break the bank to do it.

At Made by Factory, we feel your pain. We know the importance of speed in this fast-paced digital world where every second count.

That’s why we’ve gathered these 10 free ways to put the pedal to the metal and power up your website speed. Buckle up and let’s go!

A Simple Speed Test Can Check A Speed Test

Why does website speed matter?

Website speed is a fundamental aspect of a successful online presence and directly impacts SEO performance. It’s not merely a technical detail; it’s an essential contributor to your website’s user experience. When pages load quickly, visitors can access your content without delay, which promotes a more satisfying user experience. However, if the content types your site suffers from slow load times, you risk frustrating visitors, who may leave your site prematurely, reducing your visitor retention rates.

Moreover, website speed influences your website’s SEO ranking. Search engines like Google consider website speed as a ranking factor. A faster website provides a better user experience, leading to higher engagement rates, and consequently, higher rankings in search engine results. Slow loading times, on the contrary, can cause your site to be pushed down in the search results, leading to decreased visibility.

The influence of website speed on user retention and conversion cannot be overlooked. In today’s fast-paced digital world, users demand quick and seamless online experiences. A delay of just a few seconds in page load time can lead to a significant drop in user engagement, negatively affecting your conversion rates. Hence, improving your website speed is a cost-free yet effective strategy to increase your site speed online visibility, enhance user experience, and boost your website’s conversion rate.

Page Load Time Affects Overall Page Performance

10 Free Ways to Increase Website Speed

Optimising Images

One of the most common reasons for slow website speed is large, unoptimised images. High-resolution images may look impressive, but they can significantly increase the loading time of your website. When a user visits your website, their browser needs to download all components of the page, including images. The larger the file size of an image, the longer it will take to load.

Fortunately, image compression can help address this issue. Tools such as TinyPNG and are free and easy to use, allowing you to reduce your image file size without sacrificing quality. These tools work by removing unnecessary data from your image files, resulting in a smaller file size and faster loading times. By implementing image compression into your website management routine, you can significantly improve your website speed, enhancing user experience and boosting your SEO performance.

Different Devices And Latest Browser Versions Affect Load Speed

Reducing HTTP Requests

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) requests occur when a browser fetches a file, page, or picture from a web server. In essence, each time a user’s browser retrieves a file from your server, it’s making an HTTP request. If your website comprises numerous elements, such as images, stylesheets, scripts, and more, it results in a significant number of HTTP requests, thus slowing down your website speed.

To improve your website’s speed, it’s crucial to reduce the number of HTTP requests. Here are a few free methods to accomplish this:

Combine Files: Combining CSS and JavaScript files into one significantly reduces the number of HTTP requests. Tools like Minify can help with this.

Use CSS Sprites: CSS Sprites are a method to combine multiple images into one, which greatly reduces HTTP requests. There are several free tools online, such as CSS Sprite Generator, to create CSS Sprites.

Eliminate Unnecessary Resources: Evaluate the necessity of every file on your website. If a resource (like an image or a script) isn’t contributing to your website’s functionality or aesthetic appeal, it’s best to remove it.

By prudently managing your website’s components and employing techniques to reduce HTTP requests, you can significantly improve your website speed and thereby enhance user experience and SEO performance.

Understanding Browser Caching and How to Leverage It

Browser caching is a powerful tool that can significantly boost your website speed. When visitors land on your website, their browser downloads several elements such as HTML documents, stylesheets, JavaScript files, and images. Browser caching stores these elements in the local hard drive of the visitor’s device. So, the next time the user returns to your website, the browser will load the page without having to send another HTTP request to the server. This process dramatically reduces the load time, thus enhancing the user experience.

Here are some straightforward steps to enable browser caching:

  • Use .htaccess: If your website runs on an Apache server, you can use the .htaccess file to enable browser caching. Just add the code that specifies the “Expires” headers and the time duration for caching different file types.
  • Leverage WordPress Plugins: For WordPress websites, several plugins, such as W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache, can help you enable browser caching with just a few clicks.
  • Utilise Online Tools: Tools like YSlow or Google PageSpeed Insights can provide useful insights into how well your browser caching is performing and suggest necessary improvements to optimize it.
  • By understanding and implementing browser caching, you create a win-win situation: a faster website for your users and improved SEO for your online presence.
Site Speed On Web Pages On Your Wordpress Website

The Power of Minification: Boosting Website Speed

Minification is a crucial technique in enhancing your website speed, providing a smoother, more enjoyable user experience. The process involves removing unnecessary characters like whitespace, new line, and comments from your CSS, JavaScript, and HTML files without changing their functionality. The result? A significantly reduced file size, which leads to faster download times and improved website performance.

The beauty of minification lies in its simplicity and cost-effectiveness. You can reap the benefits of this technique without any financial investment, making it a vital tool in your website speed optimisation repertoire. Several free tools are available that can make minification a breeze.

  • Minify: A straightforward tool that compresses JavaScript, CSS, and HTML files. Simply paste your code into the tool, and it provides a minified version for you to download and use.
  • CSSNano: A dedicated tool for CSS modification, it not only reduces whitespace but also applies advanced optimisations such as reducing CSS custom properties to their shorthand form.
  • UglifyJS: A powerful tool for JavaScript files, UglifyJS removes unnecessary characters and also transforms the code into a more compact form, further optimising your file size.

By incorporating minification into your website optimisation strategy, you can ensure leaner files, faster load times, and a better user experience. It’s a small investment of time that pays dividends in website speed and performance.

Utilising a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for Enhanced Website Speed

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a geographically distributed network of servers that work together to deliver Internet content rapidly. It achieves this by caching a version of your website across multiple servers located around the globe. When a user accesses your website, the CDN redirects their request from your hosting server to a server in the CDN that is closest to the user and delivers the cached content.

The use of a CDN can significantly improve your website speed, making for a smoother, more engaging user experience. Here are some key benefits of using a CDN:

Faster Page Load Times: By serving website content from servers closest to your users, CDNs significantly reduce the time it takes to load your webpages, making for a quicker, more responsive user experience.

Reduced Bandwidth Costs: CDNs can help to reduce the amount of data an origin server must provide, thus lowering hosting costs.

Increased Content Availability and Redundancy: If a single server fails, CDNs can handle more traffic and withstand hardware failures better than traditional hosting platforms ensuring your website remains available to users even during spikes in traffic or server failures.

Improved Website Security: CDNs improve security for mobile and desktop devices by providing DDoS mitigation, improvements to security certificates, and other optimisations.

By implementing a CDN, you can offer your users a fast and reliable experience, regardless of their geographical location. This not only boosts user satisfaction but can also have a positive impact on your SEO rankings. Making use of a CDN is a power move when it comes to enhancing your website speed and improving the overall performance of your online presence.

Use Website Speed Tests To Find A Slow Website

Implementing Gzip Compression

Gzip compression is another indispensable tool in your toolkit for enhancing website speed. Gzip is a software application used for file compression and decompression. When implemented on your website, it compresses your web files before sending them to the browser.

Upon receiving these compressed files, the browser then decompresses them, rendering the intended webpage. The magic of Gzip lies in the fact that compressed files are smaller in size, therefore, they transmit faster from the server to the browser, contributing to improved website speed.

To enable Gzip compression, the method varies depending on the type of server your website is hosted on. If you’re using an Apache server, you can edit the .htaccess file. Simply insert the following code:

The Benefits of Upgrading to PHP 7 for Website Speed

As the backbone of your website, the version of PHP you’re using can significantly influence your website’s speed. Upgrading to PHP 7, the latest version, comes with several advantages over its predecessors, notably improved speed and memory usage. PHP 7 can handle the same amount of requests as earlier versions with fewer servers, thereby reducing the load on your servers. In addition, the revamped error handling feature and the introduction of type declarations make the coding process smoother, reducing the likelihood of errors that can slow down your website.

The process to upgrade to PHP 7 varies depending on your hosting provider. However, the general steps are as follows:

Backup Your Website: Before you make any significant changes to your website, always create a backup. This way, if anything goes wrong during the upgrade, you can simply revert to the backup version.

Check Your Website’s Compatibility: Use a PHP compatibility checker plugin to ensure that your site’s plugins and themes are compatible with PHP 7.

Upgrade to PHP 7: Depending on your hosting provider, you may be able to upgrade via your hosting account’s control panel. If this option is not available, contact your hosting provider’s support team for assistance.

Test Your Website: After upgrading, thoroughly test your website to ensure everything is functioning as expected.

By upgrading to PHP 7, you will not only improve your website’s performance but also provide a more enjoyable user experience, bolstering your website’s SEO ranking and overall success.

Prioritising Above-the-Fold Content

The term “above-the-fold” refers to the portion of your website that is visible to users without scrolling. This prime digital real estate is the first point of contact your visitors have with your website and, as such, it plays a pivotal role in user engagement and retention. Prioritising the loading of this content can significantly enhance perceived website speed, and subsequently, the user experience.

Leveraging the concept of Critical Rendering Path (CRP), you can optimise your website to load and render the above-the-fold content first, while deferring the rendering of the rest of the page. This strategy gives the illusion of a faster-loading website, as users are presented with meaningful content on their screens almost instantly.

To accomplish this, identify and separate the CSS and JS that is critical to the rendering of the above-the-fold content. Inline this CSS in the head of your HTML document, and defer all non-critical CSS and JS. This way, the browser doesn’t have to wait for all resources to load fully before rendering the above-the-fold content, enabling users to start engaging with your website sooner.

Taking this approach a step further, you can also consider implementing asynchronous loading for non-critical resources. By doing so, these resources load in the background without blocking the rendering of the page.

By prioritising above-the-fold content and optimising its load time, you’re taking a significant step towards improving your website speed, delivering a superior user experience, and ultimately, boosting your website’s overall performance.

The Impact of Redirects on Website Speed and Tips to Avoid Them

Redirects can significantly impact your website and page speed too, creating a less than ideal user experience. Every time a redirect occurs, it requires an additional HTTP request-response cycle, adding extra time to your page load speed. This detour from the user’s requested URL to the final destination page can make your website feel slower, negatively affecting the user experience and potentially impacting your SEO rankings.

There are several ways to avoid unnecessary redirects and keep your website running smoothly:

  1. Regularly Audit Your Redirects: Regular checks can help you spot and remove any unnecessary redirects. Tools like Screaming Frog SEO Spider can crawl and analyze your website and identify any redirects that may be slowing down your website.
  2. Avoid Redirect chains: A redirect chain occurs when there are multiple redirects between the initial URL and the final destination URL. This can considerably slow down your page loading time. Ensure that every redirect leads directly to the final URL to avoid these chains.
  3. Use 301 Redirects Wisely: 301 redirects are permanent and inform search engines that the original page has moved to a new location. While they are necessary in some instances, such as a website redesign or a change in your URL structure, excessive use can slow down your site. Use them sparingly and only when necessary.
  4. Optimise Your Mobile Site: Ensure your mobile site doesn’t use redirects unnecessarily, especially if you have separate desktop and mobile sites. A common issue is redirecting mobile users from your main site to a mobile-specific URL, which can slow down your mobile or site performance.

By taking these steps to avoid unnecessary redirects, you can improve your website speed like bubble wrap roll, provide a better user experience, and enhance your overall website performance.

Keeping Plugins to a Minimum

Plugins can be a valuable tool for adding functionality to your website. However, using too many plugins can significantly impact your website speed and performance. Each plugin requires additional resources to load and execute, which can slow down your site’s performance.

To keep your website running at optimal speed, it is essential to regularly evaluate the plugins you have installed and remove any that are no longer necessary. Consider consolidating multiple plugins into one, multifunctional plugin to reduce the overall number of plugins on your site.

Additionally, be sure to update your plugins regularly, as outdated versions can also slow down your website. Keeping your plugins up to date ensures they are using the latest optimisation techniques and security measures.

By keeping your plugins to a minimum and regularly monitoring their use and updates, you can improve your website speed and create a smoother user experience for visitors. Additionally, this will help improve your overall website performance, leading to better SEO rankings and increased success for your site.

As a website owner, it is important to prioritize above-the-fold content on your website to enhance perceived load time and provide a better user experience. This can be achieved by leveraging the concept of Critical Rendering Path and optimising your CSS and JS resources. Additionally, avoiding unnecessary redirects and keeping plugins to a minimum are crucial steps in maintaining a fast loading website. Regularly auditing your site for redirects and evaluating the necessity of plugins can help improve your website speed, ultimately leading to increased success for your site. 

Making the cogs turn quicker

At Made by Factory, we understand the importance of regular site maintenance in enhancing your website’s performance. Hence, we offer comprehensive monthly site maintenance packages tailored to meet your specific needs. Our services encompass a wide range of optimisation strategies, including SEO optimisation, designed to enhance your site’s visibility, draw more organic traffic, and boost your search engine rankings.

We also focus on improving crucial aspects such as conversion rates, site authority, and website speed test it. Our skilled team works diligently, employing best industry practices to optimise your website for conversions. This includes carefully crafting a user-friendly design, creating engaging content, and implementing compelling call-to-actions that prompt visitors to take desired actions.

With a keen focus on boosting your site’s authority, we work on cultivating quality backlinks, ensuring accurate NAP citations, and creating shareable content that helps build credibility and trust with search engines.

As part of our commitment to improving website speed, we implement various techniques such as effective compression, minimising HTTP requests, and optimising images amongst others, thereby contributing to a faster, smoother user experience.

With Made by Factory’s monthly site maintenance, you are assured of a well-optimised, high-performing website that delivers optimal results consistently.

Trudi Holden

Head of Digital Engagement and the face behind our social media. Trudi leads our social media strategy and content development, with a particular passion for increasing intuitive engagement.