Think about it this way.

Your customers are just like a demanding boss. They hate waiting. When they want something, they have to get it.

FAST!

Dare to perform at a snail’s pace, and things might get ugly.

In the same way, your users don’t want to be kept waiting. This means that if your site takes one second too long to load, then the back button is the inevitable alternative.

In fact, a study by Akamai and Gomez confirmed that web users expect sites to load by 2 seconds. A site that takes three seconds or more will most likely be left behind.

Since the data suggests that speed can make or break your website, you should make an effort to know your site’s speed.

How to Determine Site Speed

My favorite tool to use for the task is Google Pagespeed Insights.

You can start by typing the URL of your site in the yellow text, then click Enter. For this example, I tried to determine the pagespeed of Copyblogger.

Site Speed: Why It Matters and How to Increase It

Site Speed: Why It Matters and How to Increase It

The results show the site’s page speed for either mobile or desktop. For Copyblogger, the results indicate that the site’s speed is 77/100 for mobile and 80/100 for desktop, which is pretty good.

It’s always ideal to aim for a site speed of above 50/100. A score above 50 suggests that your site speed takes 2 seconds or less to load. In contrast, a score below 50 suggests that your site takes 3 seconds or more.

Now that you know your site’s speed, here are some ways you can improve the speed of your website:

Image Optimization

Images are an important part of your website, especially your content. After all, when was the last time you clicked a post after seeing the cover image? When was the last time that you enjoyed reading a blog post because of the informative pictures? I bet it was not that long ago.

These days images are one of the main ingredients for great content. However, images can negatively impact your site’s speed.

I’m sure you love images with the highest resolution, say 1000 pixels or 2000 pixels. After all, they look fantastic and draw people in. The bad news is they can take an unbelievable amount of time to load! Sometimes users wait for 15 seconds or even 30 seconds to see the whole image–that is, if they have the patience. So, while images are meant to impress your users, how will they be impressed when they can’t see these images in the first place?

The solution?

Decreasing the size of your image, can go a long way in improving your page’s loading speed. Instead of uploading images with 2000 pixels, stick to 720 pixels or 360 pixels. Though they’re not as big, at least your customers won’t be kept waiting.

Minify Codes

To increase the readability of JavaScript and CSS codes, most developers need to add unnecessary characters, additional spacing and comments. While these are essential for them to understand what they’re coding, it can put your site’s speed at a disadvantage.

Not surprisingly, more unnecessary characters mean that it takes more time for computers to read the code.

So, how do you minify the codes used in your site?

Thanks to technology, you don’t need to be a web developer to minify codes. As long as you know the right tools, you can do it yourself. One tool that I would like to recommend is JavaScript Minifier. By pasting the codes and the click to minify button, you can download clean and fast codes.

Broken Links

Have you ever clicked a link, only to end up in a webpage that says 404 Error File Not Found? For starters, these are broken links or links that do not work.

To state the obvious, broken links irritate customers. They clicked the link that they thought would lead them to the right information, only to end up in a blank webpage. In this scenario, it would be a miracle for the potential customer to return to your website. It’s even worse if the broken link is actually the buy button. If the customers can’t buy the product, then that’s a failed conversion. So, how do you fix broken links?

With the W3C Broken Link Tool, all you need to do is to enter the URL of your site and click the Check button. Once the tool has finished processing your webpage, it comes up with a list of broken links.

Site Speed: Why It Matters and How to Increase It

Site Speed: Why It Matters and How to Increase It

Now that you know which links are broken, it’s time to replace them with the right links.

Minimize Redirects

Imagine that you’re looking for a particular store in a mall. Since you don’t know exactly where it is, you decide to ask someone for directions. Unfortunately, once you follow the person’s instructions , you still can’t find the store. You then approach the staff only to find out that it’s in the opposite direction.

Frustrating, isn’t it? That’s basically redirects in a nutshell.

You click a link and the computer loads the link, and redirects you to another link. Not surprisingly, this process can dramatically slow down your page’s speed.

So, how do you spot and stop redirects?

Besides identifying broken links, the W3C Broken Link Tool can detect redirects. After you’ve entered your site’s URL, the tool will display a list of redirects.

Site Speed: Why It Matters and How to Increase It

Once you’re aware of these redirected links, it’s time to replace them with the appropriate URL.

Caching Plugins

Since we’re on topic of site speed, let me introduce you to the plugins that can increase your site’s performance:

P3 Profiler: How do various plugins impact your site speed? Well, this tool has all the answers. With P3, you can find out the plugins that slow your site’s performance and uninstall them afterwards.

W3 Total Cache: The plugin claims that it can increase your site’s speed by 10%. How? The plugin stores images, JavaScript files and CSS codes. So, instead of waiting for your site to load from scratch, its static version is shown.

WP Optimize: By default, WordPress saves all the data in your site including the spam comments, trash items, plugin data and revisions. Not surprisingly, the amount of data can take its toll on your site’s speed. But thanks to WP Optimize, you can remove all the unnecessary data.

The Takeaway

Improving your site’s speed is easy once you know where to start. As long as you know the right tools, you can even do it yourself.

So, what are you waiting for?

Determine your site’s speed right now.

Monique Danao is a BusinessTown.com contributor