website speed optimization

Does your website already meet all the speed optimization requirements of Google Pagespeed Insights? In 2021 it is important that you have a website that loads at the speed of light. Google increasingly assesses websites on the basis of user experience statistics, of which website speed is an important one.

There are a number of useful website speed optimization hacks that will help you make your website lightning fast. In this article, we discuss these.

website speed optimization
website speed optimization

Google developments 2021

The Google algorithm is actually constantly evolving and it is, therefore, no wonder that a number of things will change again in 2021. June this year an important update called the ‘ Core web vitals ‘ will be implemented. In short: Google will rate websites more strongly based on user experience factors based on ‘Core Web Vital statistics’. This includes factors such as page speed, responsiveness, and the stability of content while loading.

Google has promised that website owners have until June 2021 to improve their website metrics in terms of usability, speed, and structure. Since then, the company has seen a 70% increase in users engaged with Lighthouse , PageSpeed ​​Insights, and Search Console ‘s Core Web Vitals report in preparation for the update.

What does this mean for my website speed score?

Google Pagespeed Insights is actually a misleading name because the test measures more statistics than just website speed. That also means that you will not reach a score of 100% if you only make your website super fast. Factors such as user-friendliness and structure must also be taken into account. That is why we also look at these factors, in addition to the website speed optimization hacks.

1. Create a solid foundation by choosing a good hoster

How fast your website is largely determined by hosting. If your website runs on a server that responds slowly, it makes little sense to start optimizing your website. That’s the same as boosting a microcar. You can optimize what you want, but you won’t be able to drive it fully on the highway. You need a car for this.

If you choose good WordPress hosting, your website will have more hosting capacity and you will notice this almost immediately in the loading time. The two hosters we can wholeheartedly recommend are Kinsta and SiteGround . Both are very good and score excellent on speed, support, and safety.

Are you looking for a very powerful hosting with maximum speed, support and security? Then our WordPress hosting and management solution might be for you. Behind our WordPress hosting solution lies a strong partnership between Sowmedia and Kinsta. Kinsta has been ranked among the absolute global top of Enterprise WordPress hosting solutions by independent reviews for years.

Read more: tips to google page experience

2. Go for the real size of images and compress them

Most websites are full of images. This often also means that images are responsible for a significant portion of the loading time. That is why we advise you to properly test the loading time of your website and to reduce the size of unnecessarily large images to the actual size at which you want to display them in your website.

WordPress already lends a hand by saving every image you upload in different formats. You can further shrink and scale images in the WordPress media library, but also – if you’re handy – on your own computer before uploading them. You can use any image editor that exists for this; from Photoshop to Paint.

When you have set the size of your images correctly, there is a second optimization step for the loading time of your images: compression. This means that the images are ‘packed’ as best as possible into small packages, without losing too much quality. This way you can quickly save a few megabytes on dozens of images.

3. Loads above the fold content first

One factor that has a lot to do with the user experience is how fast the content loads above the fold. In other words: content that is visible without the visitor having to scroll down. Because Google wants to offer users a pleasant experience, great importance is placed on the speed with which this content is loaded.

How does your content load correctly above the fold? This has to do with how the codes of your website are constructed. Some tips we can give you are:

  • Remove CSS and Javascript that block the loading of the above-the-fold content. This way you load the visible elements first, then the rest.
  • A technique that has become very popular in recent years is lazy loading. This will only load images when they are needed.
  • Shrink the data above the fold by compressing and/or combining scripts. Make sure that the important content above the fold comes into view first, before other elements are loaded.

To be fair, this does require some coding. Are you not that versed in coding, or do you have no one employed? We are happy to help you.

4. Optimize your website‘s code

An important point for website speed optimization is optimizing the code of your website. You do this by combining and/or compressing scripts. Loading JavaScript later by moving it to the footer also helps.

Combine scripts

When scripts are combined, this means nothing more than that all separate files are placed in one file one after the other. It’s actually like bringing the contents of three Word documents together by placing them one after the other in one document. The file size of the one combined script does not really differ from that of the separate scripts added together. Still, you improve the loading time, because your web browser has to make a new connection to load each file. And that takes time.

Because the browser now does not have to connect for three scripts, but only for one script, the speed of the loading time increases. Two plugins that allow you to combine JavaScript and CSS are WProcket and NitroPack .

Compress Scripts

When you have combined all scripts as much as possible in the previous step, you can now also compress the combined file. For scripts, compression mainly involves removing unnecessary spaces, comments, tabs, and blank lines from the code, reducing the overall file size. This is called minifying.
There are countless WordPress plugins that optimize the code for your website, but in many cases they cause more problems than they solve. A suitable plugin for compressing scripts is WProcket.

Move JavaScript to the footer

JavaScript files contain code related to the functionality of your website. CSS files ensure that the website is displayed in a certain way. Since search engines find it important that your website is displayed as quickly as possible, it helps to load CSS files as soon as possible and JavaScript files as late as possible. The free Scripts to Footer plugin puts all JavaScript as far down as possible in the page code, while leaving the CSS files at the top.

Check whether your website still functions optimally after activating this plugin. It often requires some technical knowledge to fine-tune all JavaScript files so that they don’t cause problems in the footer.

5. Use Caching

A cache makes your website faster by preventing the web server from having to load the same page over and over. The website will load faster on your next visit because the browser has already saved it, as it were. However, this must be set.

It is very easy to set up caching. If you have a WordPress website, you can do this via the WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache plugins .

6. Load static content externally with CDN

Normally images and scripts are loaded from your own server. A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is an external hosting party that copies and offers all your static content (images, PDFs, videos, but also scripts that rarely change). When a visitor visits your website, the dynamic content (the code of your website that changes per request) is still delivered by your own server, but all static content can be obtained from somewhere else.
Because a visitor’s requests are spread over two servers, the load per server is reduced and a request can be processed faster. This improves your website speed.

7. Remove and move ‘render blocking resources’

A website has various parts that are not immediately interesting for a visitor, but that must be loaded. Think of certain CSS, Javascript or tools such as Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. If these scripts are loaded first, the visitor has to wait longer for what really matters. And our great friend Google doesn’t like this either.

To solve this you can do a few things:

  • Minify your JavaScript and CSS. This means removing all the extra white space and unnecessary description in the code.
  • Add JavaScript and CSS together. To do this, you need to take several .js and .css files and combine them.
  • Defer the loading of JavaScript. It can be helpful to delay the loading of JavaScript files until everything else on the page has loaded. A reliable way to delay the loading of JavaScript is to use asynchronous loading.

A handy plugin that can help you get started with removing and moving render blocking resources is WP Rocket

8. Website maintenance

The last point for website speed optimization is maintaining your WordPress environment. Many website owners neglect this task, causing their website to slow down and sometimes even crash. Therefore, always make sure that your theme, plugins, WordPress and PHP version are up to date. Also try to remove all plugins that you no longer use, they take up unnecessary space.

website speed optimization
website speed optimization

Don’t take Google too seriously

In fact, we recommend that you take the score and recommendations of Google PageSpeed ​​Insights with a grain of salt. A 100/100 Pagespeed score does not guarantee a lightning-fast website, but only shows that it meets the website optimization requirements of Google.

This means that Google values ​​your website more than websites that have a lower score. Which of course provides a big advantage if there is a lot of competition for comparable content that you want to rank on. However, this does not say everything because website speed is only a small piece of the puzzle. There are many more Google ranking factors (2021) that are important for a good score in the search engine.

To assess the speed of your website more objectively, you can also use other tools such as GTMetrix and Pingdom Website Speed ​​Test . Just like Google, these tests give recommendations on how to optimize your website speed. Hopefully this data will help you make your website search engine friendly!

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