This manner you make fewer HTTP requests
While browsing the internet, do you ever stop wondering what is going on in the background? If the answer is no, don't worry. You're not alone. Most marketers, even the big ones, don't think much about the "tech stuff". Website performance is just something IT professionals have to worry about, right?
If your website is slow or clunky, it has a direct impact on the user experience. In fact, 40 percent of people don't hang around if your website takes longer than 3 seconds to load. With that in mind, it's important that you know how to fix a sluggish website and optimize your page load times before you lose leads.
Where do you start One way is to make fewer HTTP requests for your website.
While an HTTP request sounds like a really technical term that is best reserved for engineers and IT professionals, don't panic. Any good marketer can understand that. Now let's take a deep dive into how these requirements work and how you can use this knowledge to improve the performance of your website.
What are HTTP requests?
Before we begin, it is important that you are clear about what HTTP requests actually are.
HTTP stands for "HyperText Transfer Protocol". Think of HTTP as the language that browsers and web servers use to communicate with each other. We don't have to (thankfully) cover all the intricacies of web code to understand how HTTP affects load time. Here is a breakdown of the key steps marketers need to know.
When someone tries to visit your website, their browser sends a "request" to your server. This is known as an HTTP request. Your server confirms the response and puts the system into gear to display the web page.
This is where things get a bit tricky. The browser cannot display the page immediately. Copies of the various files are required for the page to load properly; B. Plug-ins and images.
How does the browser get these files? Through multiple HTTP requests. If the browser does not make these requirements, the page components will not load.
Depending on how many components your page has, these requirements can really add up, which can be a problem. Here's why.
Why you need fewer HTTP requests
There are two simple reasons every website should aim to reduce the HTTP requests associated with it.
Let's start with the page load time first. The more HTTP requests your site receives, the longer it will take the requested page to load. For example, a page with 20 HTTP requests loads faster than a page with 70 requests.
The matter? People don't want to wait for a website to load.
- 39 percent of visitors don't return if their pictures or videos don't load properly, research by SAG IPL shows.
- According to a study by Unbounce, 45 percent of respondents don't buy from a retailer if their website takes too long to load.
In short, with a lot of competition, you will lose leads if your website takes too long to load or if it doesn't load properly at all.
Next, let's consider how these lost leads are affecting your metrics.
According to Google, the bounce rate increases by 32 percent if the loading time slows down by 1 to 3 seconds. To make matters worse, poor load time will affect your SEO ranking. Delays in loading the page can reduce page views by 11 percent. This indicates to Google that your page is of no value.
Think of it this way: if your website doesn't impress visitors, they won't buy from you. They will not recommend you to their friends. Over time, this leads to lower search rankings, fewer visitors, and lower overall conversion rates.
What can we do with it? Well, too many HTTP requests directly affect your key metrics and your online marketability.
How to identify unnecessary HTTP requests
OK, we know exactly how HTTP requests work and why you need fewer of them. How do you identify these excess requests? Here's how it works: Determine how many queries you are dealing with and evaluate your website's performance.
Set the number of HTTP requests your website will receive
You can't remove HTTP requests until you know how many your website is receiving. Fortunately, tools are available to help you identify the number.
For example, HubSpot's Website Grader gives you a free website health check that lets you see immediately how many inquiries you are receiving:
If you're using Chrome, you can also use Chrome's DevTools to get the number of HTTP requests. Just right click on the page you want to review, click on Review, then click on the Network option. The picture you see looks something like this:
This page receives 112 requests.
Evaluate the performance of your website
When was the last time you rated the performance of your website and, most importantly, the page load time? If you can't remember, now is a good time to do an audit.
You can try Ubersuggest for this. It's really easy to use. Just open Ubersuggest, enter your url, and click "Site Audit" in the sidebar when the search results are fully loaded.
Once you click on "Site Audit" you will be presented with an overview of the speed of your website. It will look something like this:
A low score indicates that you are suffering from poor load times. For example, if your mobile website takes 6 seconds to load, but your desktop site loads in 2 seconds, then there is a problem with your mobile website, etc.
Don't worry if you are unsatisfied with your page loading times or the number of HTTP requests shown. Now that you know there is a problem, you can tweak those HTTP requests and make sure your page loads as quickly as possible. Let's see how to do that.
8 steps to making fewer HTTP requests
While every website is unique, we can usually attribute some common problems to excessive HTTP requests. With that in mind, there are now eight simple steps you can take to reduce the number of requests sent through your website.
1. Remove unnecessary plug-ins
Plug-ins are great. They add new features to your website and make your web pages more engaging. However, too many plug-ins clutter your page and slow down loading times. While there is no such thing as a “right” number of plug-ins, a good rule of thumb is to keep them to a minimum.
First, identify which plug-ins you are using. Do they add value to your website? If the answer is no, you can go. If it's a plug-in that you only use now and then, you can always reinstall it if you need it and then delete it again.
Not sure how to identify your plug-ins? Talk to me and see how I can help you better understand your website's performance.
2. Replace heavy plug-ins with optimized ones
OK, so you can't remove every plug-in. However, if you want to make fewer HTTP requests, you can often replace resource-intensive plug-ins with more streamlined options.
For example, you might want to add social media buttons to your page. Large. Social media shares can increase engagement and increase your awareness. However, the plug-ins can be resource intensive.
Use tools like Novashare to tweak your social media plug-ins. This tool won't slow down your page, but it will help you reduce the HTTP requests generated by your social sharing plug-ins:
3. Remove unnecessary images
Sure, images can add visual appeal to your website and improve the user experience. Unless the picture is helping your reader understand your content in some way, or it is extremely useful content like an infographic, it may be worth deleting.
Remember that each image creates an HTTP request. These fun GIFs may be visually appealing, but if they affect loading time, they won't impress your audience.
Check every single website and don't be afraid to get a little reckless. If the image doesn't add value to your content, delete it.
4. Reduce the file size for remaining images
Now that you've deleted the unnecessary images, it's time to optimize the images that you want to keep. In this context, "optimize" does not mean the use of alt text or keywords, although you should optimize for SEO as well.
Instead, I mean compressing each image. Compression maintains image quality while reducing the overall file size, which improves load time.
If you don't have access to photo editing tools like Adobe, try free tools like Squoosh instead. You can tinker with the image to find the perfect balance between file size (ideally less than 1MB) and image quality:
5. Delete unnecessary videos
Just as not every image adds value to your content, some videos degrade the user experience and increase the page load time.
To be honest, this tip is really simple. Limit the number of videos you play on a webpage, just as you should choose unnecessary images or plug-ins.
How do you know which videos to delete? There is no rule here. However, if it doesn't educate your audience or doesn't add value in any way, cut it off or replace it with a shorter, comparable video.
6. Activate lazy load
Lazy loading means that an image or video is not loaded until the user starts scrolling your webpage. How does this reduce HTTP requests?
Since the medium is not loaded immediately, no HTTP request is triggered the first time the page is loaded. It also does not affect the user experience as users do not know the difference between a normal load or a delayed load. All they know is that the pictures or videos can be viewed after scrolling down.
Try plug-ins like the aptly named LazyLoad to enable deferred loading. The script requires less than 10 KB of memory and is therefore not resource-intensive. Just install the plug-in and it will work immediately:
7. Use content caching
Caching is a great way to reduce HTTP requests.
Essentially, caching means that a visitor's browser stores copies of the scripts used to display your webpage, rather than deleting them all. When the visitor returns, there is no need to make all HTTP requests again as the scripts needed are already stored in the browser unless they clear the cache.
Let me give you some tips on how to prepare your website for content caching.
- Always use the same URL when serving the content on different pages.
- Build a library of pictures and videos and use them again.
- Try free tools like REDbot to evaluate your website's cacheability.
8. Reduce third party requests
When a visitor's browser needs to request or download data from a third party in order to properly display a website such as YouTube or Google Analytics, this is known as a third party request. The matter? How long it takes for your page to load depends on how quickly the third-party server is responding.
This is a big problem because you have no control over your page loading time. Remember to lazily load third-party content like embedded YouTube videos to regain control. You can also try hosting scripts for required programs like Google Analytics locally rather than externally.
If a plug-in you are using has its own third-party requirements, replace it with a different plug-in if possible.
This way you make fewer HTTP requests
- Remove unnecessary plug-ins
Find out what plug-ins are installed and remove the ones you don't use.
- Replace heavy plug-ins with optimized ones
Review the plug-ins you keep and replace them with more efficient ones if available.
- Remove unnecessary images
Delete images that don't add value as each one creates an HTTP request.
- Reduce the file size for remaining images
Compress the images you keep to reduce loading time.
- Delete unnecessary videos
Only keep videos that add value to your page.
- Activate lazy load
Use a plug-in that can load pictures and videos as soon as a user scrolls.
- Use content caching
Avoid using cookies to prepare your website for content caching. Use the same URL for content that will be used on different pages. Create a picture library and use it again. and see if your site can be cached.
- Reduce third party requests
Try not to include content obtained from third-party providers like YouTube, as your page load time will depend on theirs. You should also replace plug-ins based on third-party requirements.
HTTP requests are essential to displaying a website and delivering an engaging experience to your audience. However, too many HTTP requests can affect the performance of your website and deter potential customers from doing business with you.
The good news? With a few simple changes, you can ensure that browsers make fewer HTTP requests to your website. You can extend the loading time of pages, improve the visual attractiveness of a website and ultimately increase conversions in the long term.
If you're not sure where to start improving your website's performance, read my consulting services and we'll see how I can help you.
Have you tried to reduce the number of HTTP requests on your website? Which strategies work for you?
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