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These four adjustments can make your website faster — and more attractive to Google. PHOTO: skeeze

If you can’t be found online, you are basically nonexistent.

It’s just the reality of doing business in this century. However, it takes more to create an online presence than putting up a website.

Websites now need be carefully designed, contain useful content and perform well. Because it is your digital business card and storefront all rolled into one, it should provide your visitors with an optimal digital customer experience.

Website Speed Counts

Part of that is making sure the site loads quickly. Performance is a key factor for search and social visibility, especially since more visitors browse the internet through mobile devices.

Visitors are quite fickle these days. A Google study revealed more than half of visitors will abandon sites that load for more than three seconds. To see how your web page performs against the clock, you can check how it scores using Google PageSpeed Insights.

Google has been factoring in loading times in rank results. So for a business, better visibility in search means more visitors and more visitors means more potential clients.

A speedy site also keeps visitors 70 percent longer on the site and enjoy 35 percent lower bounce rates. This also means that visitors do not have to wait to get the information or content that they need and this leads to better user engagement.

Building an Online Presence

Building a website can be a challenge for all businesses and even more daunting for smaller ventures and solo entrepreneurs.

There are costs involved in putting up a digital presence. Starting out already requires them to multitask and funnel resources to efforts that grow the business. Hiring somebody to put a site up for you, especially one that is optimized for speed, can be expensive.

There are cheaper ways to go about doing this if you have enough know how. Many business websites are self-hosted and run on free content management systems such as WordPress and Drupal. There are multitude of themes and templates that offer customized looks for every business.

However, if you aren’t as technically inclined, you can use website builder services to quickly put up a website. Website builders don’t require advanced coding knowledge, are cheaper than having an expert build a site from scratch, and carry less risk than engaging freelancers who may not guarantee long-term support.

Build It – and They Will Leave Unless It's Speedy

There are quite a number of website builders, each would be marketing their strengths. But not all website builders are created equal. Some builders focus too much on the visual wow factor that they skip on some of the essential requirements for websites today such as performance.

Unfortunately, many website builders encounter site load issues.

Here are four adjustments website builders should follow to keep websites running fast and stay on Google's good side.

1. Refactored JavaScript Framework

One of the common problems of website builders is how the resulting pages are eventually rendered. Many of the fancy bells and whistles on a webpage such as sliders and accordions rely on JavaScript to function.

PageSpeed is particularly picky about how and where these lines of code are located. Optimizing the JavaScript framework is essential to prevent JavaScript from raising red flags in the test. If the page can be loaded without JavaScript, the better.

2. Optimal CSS Code Placement

CSS, which is code responsible for much of a page’s style and appearance, also needs to be placed optimally. Most visually stunning websites typically have large amounts of CSS code. This increases loading times.

One can simply relegate CSS loading at the end of the document but this often results in a page loading in the browser without styles. The page might look broken to visitors when this happens. Make sure your page builder automatically parses the CSS and places the essential at the top of the page so that the page is styled even when it is partially loaded.

Since the essential CSS code is already at the top, all non-essential CSS can be placed at the bottom of the page. All essential content is already made available for viewing so users don’t have to wait for all resources to be downloaded to start consuming content.

3. Image Compression and Optimization

Images are also a source of page load delays. Most websites rely on high quality images to stand out. Website builders then tend to allow high resolution images to be used without taking into consideration how these affect page load times.

PageSpeed results would advise you to optimize images to trim down on the file sizes. Professionals usually deal with this using image editors like Adobe Photoshop. A good page builder uses compression algorithms that shrink image sizes while retaining optimal quality.

4. HTML, CSS and JavaScript Minification

Finally, all text data including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript should be minified. Minification is the practice of optimizing code by stripping all unnecessary characters such as spaces and line breaks without affecting how they get interpreted by the browser.

The result is smaller files that need to be downloaded and all these bytes saved translate to faster loading times.