Optimizing Website Performance

By Erin Gleig, EMG Design

How to get your website ranked higher in Google

How do you get your business website listed in the top three organic listings on Google?

There are many aspects that search engines look at when ranking your business website. Website performance is one the major factors that search engines calculate in the algorithm. Content is the other major aspect.

In this article I discuss website optimization from the technical perspective. Optimizing website performance will increase speed and traffic, resulting in higher conversion rates. Your business website should be optimized to get the highest return on investment (ROI). Here are some quick performance optimization strategies for business websites.

Create a sitemap

For WordPress, you can use an SEO plugin such as Yoast to create your sitemap (it’s done automatically once you activate the plugin). You can manually submit your sitemap to Google through Google Search Console. It’s a pretty simple procedure and can be done in a few minutes.

Enable GZIP compression on your website server

With gZip compression, the HTML output of your site will be compressed before sending it to your visitor’s browser where it will decompress the content. This will make your business website faster.

For WordPress users, enabling gZip is simple.
Add this code to the .htaccess file in your WordPress main folder:

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript

Minify and combine CSS and Javascript code

Magnification reduces the size and number of JavaScript and CSS files that your website loads. It does this by removing all unnecessary characters from the source code without changing its functionality. Combining multiple JavaScript and CSS files reduces the number of requests your website makes.

Use the latest version of WordPress

To avoid security vulnerabilities and improve performance on your business website, update to the latest version of WordPress. The same goes for updating plugins and themes. Use Google Page Speed or Yahoo YSlow to analyze where a site can be improved.

Optimize your website for mobile

Another strategy for optimizing website performance is to create a mobile version of your website. More traffic each year is coming from mobile traffic. Usually, people have slower connections on mobile devices than on their desktop computer. For this reason, websites should have a mobile version. Use a mobile-first and responsive approach to your content. This will ensure that your website is not only fast, but encourages customer engagement. Learn how to increase customer engagement with my post How to make your customers happy with your website.

Kill your slider

Sliders hurt your business website

Sliders are losing their appeal for multiple reasons. From an optimization point of view, they slow your website down because they use Javascript to operate. They are usually not mobile-friendly and will slow your website down, annoying your viewers. From a marketing perspective, most people don’t click on slider CTAs. I know people love to add them (I’m guilty of using them occasionally), but use them sparingly and know that they will slow your website down.

Use an SSL Certificate

To help users browse the web safely, Chrome indicates connection security with an icon in the address bar. Historically, Chrome has not explicitly labeled HTTP connections as non-secure. Beginning in January 2017 (Chrome 56), we’ll mark HTTP pages that collect passwords or credit cards as non-secure, as part of a long-term plan to mark all HTTP sites as non-secure.

Chrome is the most popular browser in Canada. 43.15% of Canadian Internet traffic used Chrome as their browser in 2016, followed by Safari at 29.42%. Given these statistics, it would be a smart move to make your website secure by using an SSL certificate. Most viewers won’t understand what the warning is describing, which will result in not visiting your website.

Google is the most popular search engine browser in Canada with an 88.35% share of traffic. Americans also prefer Google as their search engine of choice with 81.42% of traffic. If you’re looking to sell in the American market, you should heed Google’s advisory and get an SSL certificate.

88.35% of Canadian Internet traffic uses Google over other search engines.

Given the hard work you put into your business, your website should work just as hard. Often, by the time a customer has contacted you, they have fully inspected your business website and social media channels. Make sure that your website is performing to rank well with Google and give you a good return on investment by increasing your conversion rate. Optimizing website performance is one way to ensure your viewers a great experience.

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Erin Gleig

Erin Gleig

Erin Gleig builds marketable online identities for Arts, Culture and Non-profit organizations. She is the owner of EMG Design, a digital design studio in Delta, Canada. Connect with Erin at Twitter @designemg.

Are you an Arts Organization that needs help executing your marketing?

With several years experience helping theatre companies and non-profits with their digital marketing needs I can save you time and reach a wider audience. Let’s chat! View my services offered by EMG Design.

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