Zoom, zoom — that’s your page speed-optimized website on its way to the top of the search rankings.

Ah, the beginning of a new year — a time to reflect, recharge, and work on becoming the best “you” you can possibly be. It’s up to you to decide if your best self spends more time at the gym, more time meditating, or more time reading, but one thing is non-negotiable: your 2019 self will spend far less time waiting for your website to load.

Any visitor’s experience with your website begins before the homepage even loads — and if it’s too slow, it’ll end there, too. 40% of consumers will leave a website that takes more than two or three seconds to load. A high bounce rate doesn’t just mean lost leads; it means a ding to your search rankings every single time a visitor exits out.

Fortunately, a quicker load speed is easier than ever to achieve, as Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool has recently been updated for a simpler user experience. The tool gives your website a score between 0 and 100 points, with 85 or above indicating a well-performing page on both desktop and mobile. But if your speed test returns a lower number, never fear — here are four things you can do to make the grade:

1. Don’t stress, compress.

Reducing the size of your CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files will allow them to travel over the server, to the browser, and onto a visitor’s screen at top speed. If you’re hosting larger files, use Gzip to shrink them to a more manageable size. There is, however, one caveat to this rule: image files. Specialized tools like Photoshop offer you far more control over the image quality.

2. Marie Kondo your code.

When you throw out clothes that don’t spark joy, it’s called minimization. When you throw out code that doesn’t spark fast page speed, it’s called minification. Just like cleaning out your closet can streamline your morning routine, clearing your source code of white spaces, new lines, unused code, and redundant formatting can create a smaller but faster server version of your file.

3. Get that cache.

Web browsers can automatically store — or “cache” — information about websites they’ve already visited, so that the user will have a lower wait time each time they return to your site. You can use a tool like YSlow to check if your cache has an expiration date. Typically, as long as your site design isn’t changing frequently, a year is a reasonable expiration time to set.

4. Image-ine the possibilities.

Optimize your images to travel at hyperspeed by ensuring they’re no larger than they need to be and double-checking that they’re in the right file format. As a general rule, PNGs are better for simple graphics, while photographs should be JPEGs. You should also compress your images, but use a tool like Photoshop, Compress JPEG, or TinyPNG to keep the image quality consistent.

Page speed updates are not only easy, but pay dividends in increased website traffic and decreased bounce rates. Therefore, businesses should resolve to be faster in 2019.

Author Madeline Killen

Before graduating from Dartmouth College, Madeline studied English and Italian literature, edited the arts section of the campus newspaper, worked as an Italian tutor, and completed a senior honors thesis on Emily Dickinson. At L&T, she’s translated her passion for language — no pun intended — into success in her role writing and managing social media for clients across multiple industries. When she’s not at work, you’ll find her reading, running, or enjoying the perks of moving back to civilization after four years in the New Hampshire wilderness (even though she does miss the trees).

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