Outpace the competition: how to optimize your website performance

Outpace the competition: how to optimize your website performance

A slow website can drive visitors away and significantly impair the user experience. Optimizing website performance is therefore essential to remaining competitive in the digital space. Here’s how to turbocharge your website for peak performance.

Mauro Landolt Mauro Landolt · Head of Communication

None of us want to wait longer than absolutely necessary. This is es­pecially true when visiting a website, perhaps of a product we’re interested in. It’s frequently forgotten that website loading speed is a decisive factor for success in more than one respect.

Slow or poorly designed websites not only have high bounce rates, but are also ranked negatively by Google due to the poor user experience (UX) and appear lower in search results. On the other hand, a study by digital marketing agency Portent has shown the impact of website optimization. The average conversion rate of a B2C website with a load time of 1 second is 2.5 times that of a website that takes 5 seconds to load. The difference is even more pronounced for B2B websites, for which the conversion rate was 3 times higher in the same comparison.

To help you optimize your website’s performance and user experience, as well as boost your Google ranking, we present some useful tools below.

Analyzing your website’s performance

Before making any changes, it’s worth evaluating the current state of your website. Various tools can provide comprehensive information on website load time and performance.

Google PageSpeed Insights is a free tool that measures load speed on desktop and mobile devices and offers detailed suggestions for improve­ment. These recommendations for improving performance (such as image compression) allow you to quickly gain valuable insights and identify potential weaknesses.

Lighthouse is also available from Google, but its in-depth reports are aimed more at web developers. The open source tool can be run as a browser extension for Google Chrome, among other things, and considers many different aspects, which are summarized in a report with suggestions for improvement.

Core Web Vitals are taken into account in all Google tools and are some of the most important metrics used to measure website performance. They consist of three components:

For Core Web Vitals compliance, the targets at the 75th percentile should be met for each of these. Find out how you can improve your Core Web Vitals in our blog post.

Web hosting optimization

High-performance web hosting is the foundation for fast website loading times. Websites are hosted on a server managed by a web hosting provider such as Hostpoint or they may be self-hosted. Hostpoint offers a range of services for this purpose, ranging from shared hosting to a dedicated managed server, depending on requirements.

With Standard web hosting (shared hosting), a customer shares the resources of a server with other website operators. This service is based on the “best-effort” principle, as performance may vary depending on the capacity utilization of other customers.

Do you need guaranteed resources, want to use advanced developer technologies, or prioritize high security? Then you should opt for a dedicated server. A Managed Flex Server from Hostpoint can be set up, structured and optimized by an expert according to your requirements.

Our service:
Not sure which offer is best for you? Our friendly support team would be happy to give you all the advice you need on our products. You can reach us seven days a week on 0844 040404 or by e-mail at support@hostpoint.ch.

A server’s physical location also has an impact on website performance. A page can load faster if the distance between the server and visitor is as short as possible. With a content delivery network (CDN), the website content is cached on several servers around the world and retrieved from the nearest server depending on the visitor’s location.

It should be noted that data is subject to the laws of the respective country depending on the server location – an aspect that can be particularly impor­tant for data protection.

In addition to the highest possible performance, we also want to offer the best service in terms of security and data protection. That’s why all Hostpoint servers are located in Switzerland. This is confirmed by the “swiss hosting” quality seal, which is only used by hosting providers with registered offices and data storage in Switzerland.

Website optimization

You need the right web hosting setup to minimize load times, but the website itself must also be tuned to performance. The following best practices can help you avoid the most common pitfalls at an early stage.

Images are often the largest files on a website and contribute significantly to long load times. By using image compression tools, you can reduce file sizes without any visible loss of quality. Modern image formats such as WebP often produce significantly smaller files than JPG or PNG with comparable quality. You should therefore opt to use these formats where possible to optimize load speeds.

Minification” of HTML, CSS and JavaScript is a key step. Removing unnecessary characters, comments and spaces optimizes a website’s code so that it can load more efficiently.

Asynchronous loading of JavaScript files is an equally important aspect. JavaScript files contain scripts that add functionality and interactivity to your website. This includes, for example, displaying pop-up windows and playing videos. When JavaScript files are loaded synchronously, the browser stops loading the rest of the website until the JavaScript file has been fully loaded and executed. This delays the moment until the page is visible and thus costs valuable time.

When JavaScript files are loaded asynchronously (async) or with a delay (defer), the loading of the website is not slowed down. With “async”, the file loads in parallel to the rest of the website and is executed immediately once it is finished loading. With “defer”, on the other hand, the file also loads at the same time, but is not executed until the whole page has finished loading. This results in faster load times and a better user experience, as the page becomes visible faster and visitors do not have to wait so long.

Avoid loading scripts from external sources, as third-party servers can become a bottleneck if they perform poorly and may pose security risks.

Caching plays a crucial role in repeat visits to websites. Browser caching allows resources to be stored locally in the browser, which means that websites can be loaded faster when a visitor returns. Server caching stores static content on the server, ensuring faster delivery of that content. With its clever caching, an Nginx web server can offer a performance advantage in the event of high traffic and can already be used with the Smart and Business web hosting shared hosting packages and above.

Effective optimization also includes continuous monitoring and testing of website performance. (Source: Campaign Creators/Unsplash)

Last but not least, “lazy loading” should also be enabled. This ensures that not all content is loaded immediately when the page loads, just the visible content. Further content is only then loaded when the user scrolls. This means that visitors can use the page faster, without having to wait for processing of content that is not yet visible. However, Google recommends avoiding lazy loading for main content so that Googlebot can also rate it.

When making optimizations, don’t forget to not only disable but also immediately uninstall unused plugins. This reduces load times while increasing security, as each individual plugin relies on regular updates from the developers.

Mobile-first indexing for a strong ranking

For search engines, both numerous technical optimizations and user experience are important. For some time now, Google has been evaluating websites primarily on the basis of their mobile version. This process, known as mobile-first indexing, arose from the increasing use of mobile devices and makes a responsive design essential for a top rating. But what exactly does this evaluation mean?

With mobile-first indexing, Google primarily uses the mobile version of a website for indexing and ranking. This means that Google looks at the mobile version of your website to see if all the required content is avail­able and loads quickly. If that is the case, the website is rated better in the search index and may be ranked higher.

Google strongly warns against omitting content from the mobile version of your website to improve performance. This leads to less information on the website being provided to Googlebot, which can result in a decrease in visits. To avoid problems when your website is crawled, make sure that no important resources are blocked by the robots.txt file. This file contains instructions for search engines and tells them which pages they may and may not crawl.

Despite being included in the Search index, a website can end up well down the search results due to a poor user experience. The index may classify a website as mobile-friendly if all the necessary information is available, but user-friendliness and thus the search result ranking will suffer if that information is displayed in a poor way. To ensure a good rating, Google has summarized the criteria for a positive user experience in this article.

Your aim should be to optimize your website primarily for your customers and not search engines. Provide visitors with a consistent and satisfying user experience, regardless of device, and ensure your website content is identical, easy to read and usable across all devices.

To further improve the content of your website and thus its ranking, we recommend our Google SEO article. In it, you’ll learn which aspects are important in addition to a positive user experience.

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