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The Complete Guide to Optimizing a Website

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Website optimization is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of running any site. This in-depth guide will explain the importance of website optimization and teach you quick tips to optimize your website today. We’ll also dive deep into the best long-term strategies and tools to keep your site running smoothly forever. 

Why Optimizing Your Website Is So Important

Website optimization can ultimately make or break the success of any site.

It’s all about the user experience. If visitors experience quick page loading times, seamless transitions, and fast-loading media, they’ll have a much easier time navigating your site and consuming content. Conversely, slow loading times lead to bounces, abandonments, and frustrated site visitors.

We’ve all been there—landing on a website that takes forever to load, feeling rigid or clunky as we scroll and navigate. Most people just leave those websites and don’t come back.

People don’t have to put up with a bad website experience because they can always get what they need elsewhere. Other sites have the same products, services, content, or whatever else you’re offering. 

But once you’ve nailed website optimization, everything will change. You’ll experience fewer bounces, more traffic, and higher conversion rates. 

Website optimization can also boost your SEO rankings, which ultimately leads to higher site traffic. 

Let’s take a look at just one aspect of website optimization—speed. Staples is a brand that most of us are likely familiar with. When trying to compete with other ecommerce giants like Amazon and Walmart, the company prioritized site speed and user experience.

By reducing homepage load time by just one second, Staples experienced a 10% increase in conversions. For a company that generates roughly $9 billion in sales per year, a 10% increase in conversions translates to a massive revenue boost. 

Quick Tips to Improve Website Optimization Today

Here at Crazy Egg, we’re obsessed with site optimization. Our team of experts is constantly researching and testing new ideas, methods, and tools for boosting site performance. Whether you’re starting a new website or optimizing a site that’s ten years old, anyone can apply these quick website optimization tips today—even as a beginner.  

Tip #1 — Use Quality Web Hosting

Website optimization starts at the server level. No matter how many strategies you apply, your efforts will be useless if your hosting is subpar. 

While the idea of switching web hosts might seem like an extensive process or complex task, it’s actually really easy and something you can do immediately—assuming you go with the right provider.

A2 Hosting is an excellent option to consider here. The company is synonymous with speed and offers turbo-charged servers up to 20x faster than alternatives.

The hosting packages are optimized out-of-the-box with the most popular CMS solutions on the market today. A2 offers free site migrations, and their team of experts will move your site to an A2 server hassle-free. 

Another reason why we recommend A2 Hosting so highly is because of its 99.9% uptime commitment. Downtime can crush your site optimization, as visitors won’t be able to access your site during outages. But with A2, you won’t have to worry about those problems.

A2 Hosting has a solution for everyone, regardless of your site size, traffic, or budget. Here’s a brief overview of the options:

  • Shared Hosting — Starting at $2.99 per month
  • VPS Hosting — Starting at $4.99 per month
  • Managed WordPress Hosting — Starting at $12.99 per month
  • Dedicated Server Hosting — Starting at $99.59 per month

Most of you will benefit the most from A2’s VPS plans, at a minimum. The extra couple of dollars per month is readily justifiable when you consider the performance boost. A2’s managed plans are excellent as well. 

All A2 Hosting plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Once you’ve made the switch to the right web hosting provider, the rest of your website optimization strategy will fall into place.

Tip #2 — Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

It’s incredible how the internet connects the world. But the physical location of your website visitors has an impact on site performance. 

If your servers are in Australia, but most of your traffic comes from the US, there will be a delay in loading time. That’s why server location is crucial for geographic performance. 

The ability to choose your server locations and having access to a content delivery network (CDN) will help ensure the fastest loading times for your visitors, regardless of the location.

This is another area where A2 Hosting has you covered. Even with entry-level shared hosting, A2 lets you choose your server location.

Even more impressive—all A2 Hosting plans come with a free CDN from Cloudflare. As Cloudflare says, it is “a global network designed to make everything you connect to the Internet secure, private, fast, and reliable.”

With a CDN, you’ll benefit from a geographically distributed group of servers. These servers work together to ensure fast delivery to users worldwide. 

Essentially, you distribute content to website visitors from servers that are closer to their physical location. This helps reduce bounce rates while increasing the average amount of time a user spends on each page. 

CDNs also reduce bandwidth consumption while simultaneously boosting content availability. 

Technical terms aside—CDNs optimize your website. This works in the background without any extra work or effort on your end. When you sign up for a quality web host like A2 Hosting, you’ll automatically benefit from this site optimization tool. 

Tip #3 — Use a Lightweight Theme

Complex themes with media-rich files are slow down your website. It may look cool to have a high-res video or animation in the background of your home page, but those aren’t favorable for your site optimization strategy.

When you’re selecting a theme, it’s important to remember that less is more. 

Not only will a lightweight theme improve your page loading times, but it will also improve the user experience as people are navigating throughout your site. 

The best themes are designed to draw the user’s eye directly to a CTA or point of attention. This limits distractions and helps boost conversions as well. 

A2 Hosting comes with a free site builder tool and plenty of lightweight themes you can customize. 

The designs are modern and optimized for the user experience, so you’re not sacrificing quality at all. 

If you decide to get a theme elsewhere, that’s fine, too. Just make sure that it’s simple and lightweight. Browsing themes and installing one to your website is easy and can be accomplished in just a few minutes with minimal effort and no technical knowledge needed. 

Long-Term Strategies For Website Optimization

Website optimization is an ongoing process. Once you’ve gone through the immediate steps, there are some long-term actions that require a bit more work (and time) to see the payoff. 

Strategy #1 — Image Compression

In simple terms, image compression reduces the file size of the images on your website. As a result, these images load faster, and it improves the overall performance of your site.

It’s easy to compress images. But it’s not something that will move the needle overnight.

ImageOptim and TinyPNG are two easy ways to apply this strategy for free. These tools can reduce image files by up to 80% without compromising quality—the naked eye won’t notice a difference.

There are also image compression plugins for WordPress and tons of other free online tools you can use to apply this strategy. But it’s important to understand that this is a long-term game.

For example, let’s say you’re writing a blog post that contains five images. If you compress the images, that page might load slightly faster than without compression. But it may not make a difference to your overall website.

That said, if you’re publishing 50 images per week, the difference between compression and no compression will have a significant impact on your site speed by the end of the year. 

Compressed images use less site storage and ultimately put less of a strain on your website resources. So it’s vital to apply this strategy long-term. 

It may be time-consuming, but it’s also worth going back and compressing all of the images that are already published on your website.

Strategy #2 — Optimize For Mobile

We live in an era where everyone is walking around with a palm-sized computer. More than half of all website traffic worldwide comes from mobile devices. 

If your site isn’t optimized for smartphones and tablets, it will cause some serious performance issues. You’re essentially neglecting half of all potential visitors. 

Search engines have recognized the importance of mobile optimization as well. Google rewards sites and boosts those search rankings for mobile-friendly content. 

How can you optimize your website for mobile?

For starters, use Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test. Just enter your site URL, and a report will generate in seconds. If anything is wrong, you’ll see some tips on what it takes to fix those errors and make improvements. 

Other ways to optimize your site for mobile include:

  • Using a mobile-friendly theme
  • Mobile-friendly plugins
  • Reliable web hosting
  • Avoid full-screen pops and other obtrusive content

Most CMS platforms and website builders let you view the mobile version of your website and pages on the backend from your admin dashboard. While these platforms are usually pretty good about optimizing the content automatically, you might need to make some changes on your own to ensure everything renders properly from a mobile device. 

Strategy #3 — Technical SEO

Search engine optimization and site optimization go hand-in-hand. But technical SEO will have the biggest long-term impact on your site when it comes to site performance.

Keyword research, publishing blogs, and building backlinks are all great for boosting SEO rankings. But none of these will impact the actual performance of your site. 

Technical SEO is a bit more complex and requires some extra effort on your end. If you’re not comfortable doing things on your site’s backend, you should work with a web developer to help you.

Elements that need to be optimized here include:

  • Site structure
  • XML sitemap
  • URL structure
  • Javascript
  • Canonical tags
  • 301 redirects
  • 404 pages
  • Structured data
  • Duplicate content
  • Robots.txt file

This list alone should keep you busy for a while. If much of this sounds foreign to you, don’t worry. An experienced web developer should be well-versed in technical SEO. 

Not only is this something you need to work on long-term, but there are factors here that can change over time, so you’ll need to keep an eye on them. 

For example, a web page that’s working fine today could be broken in a few months based on an update or change. These 404 errors crush the user experience and must get fixed to ensure optimal performance. 

Strategy #4 — Run A/B Tests

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is arguably the best way to optimize the on-page elements of your website. 

Here’s how it works. You start by determining what you want to test. In many cases, this can be as simple as CTA button placement, CTA button size or color, or CTA button phrasing.

Then you’ll send half of your traffic to each version of the site to see which version performs better. You might learn that the CTA button on the left side of the screen generated 20% more conversions than when the button is on the right side of the screen.

While A/B tests are great, it takes lots of time and effort to get this right. You can only test one element at a time to truly understand which factor is making a difference in performance. 

There’s always room for improvement. You could spend six months just testing different variations of your CTA button. From there, you can move on to testing landing page images, such as a male vs. female or a single person vs. a group of people—the possibilities are endless.  

Next Steps

Now that you have a firm grasp on what it takes to optimize your website, you can start implementing the tips, best practices, and strategies listed in this guide. 

We have a complete guide that teaches you how to do A/B testing to make this process easier, especially if you’ve never done it before. 

After you’ve mastered website optimization, you should focus on driving more traffic to your site. Check out our guide on the best SEO tools to get started here. 

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