Why is the performance of your Private Practice website so important?
Today I’m going to be explaining about why your site must be SSL certified and four tools you can use to help monitor and turbocharge your site’s speed.
Do you have a Private Practice website?(This is not a trick question – the answer should either be “yes’, or, “I’m meeting with a web designer this very week”).
Having a Private Practice website is key to promoting what you do, but if you have a website, do you know how well is it performing?
I decided to take a look under the bonnet of our Private Practice Ninja website, because although I know we consistently produce really helpful vlogs and blogs for our readers, I wanted to make sure that the actual website was performing well.
When we did a deep dive, we found that our site was letting us down in a number of ways, and I want to share with you what we did to correct it.
But first, let me explain WHY it’s so important that you should care about the functioning of your site.
Our Private Practice websites are scrutinised by Google, and unless you’re one of the few ‘alternative’ people on the planet who uses Bing to conduct a search, you’d better be listening to what Google wants.
So… in order to rank well on Google (and be found by all those wonderful potential patients), we need to understand what Google favours. Google (disappointingly) doesn’t broadcast a list of what it loves, but educated SEO (search engine optimisation) gurus reckon that these factors are probably pretty important:
The keywords you use on the site.
How that site is laid out (structure-wise).
How fast your site loads on mobile devices (site speed) – this was part of Google’s 2018 “speed update”.
How long people spend on your site when they arrive there.
The number of links from external websites that point to your site (backlinks).
The quality of those links from external websites.
How mobile friendly your website is (for people viewing it on a mobile phone).
Whether your site has an SSL certificate.
These a just a few out of 200 factors that Google probably uses to analyse your website and its content.
It goes without saying that it’s really important to have a website that’s mobile friendly, and it may be that if you have a site that’s 4-5 years old, it’s time for a site refresh.
How do you know if your website is mobile friendly?
Go to: Google Mobile Friendly Test and Google will either give you a big fat yes, or a get outta town…
How else might you find if your site is letting you down?
We wanted to see how fast our Private Practice Ninja site was loading. We’ve a huge amount of content on the site, and I had an inkling that the site could be getting a bit of middle age spread. Our super helpful SEO consultant colleagues at Jammy Digital helped us to shine a light on how well our site was performing.
Let me tell you, it was tough news to hear. In fact, it was a wee bit shameful.
Whilst we’re producing excellent content, we had neglected to take care of the impending atherosclerosis that was happening. Our website was slowing down,
big time. In fact, it was taking 9.2 seconds for the site to load in its entirety.
How can you test if your website is slow?
Well if you’re looking for a free tool, you can go to:
You can enter the URL of your website and specifically ask it to test your site’s speed as viewed on a mobile device. (Google wants our sites to be very mobile friendly, remember?). Uptrends will give your web page a ‘load time’.
Google has told us that 53% of people will leave a mobile-viewed website, if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load, so we can probably assume that Google praises websites that load in 3 seconds or less. If your website is taking more than 6 seconds, you’re likely to be punished by Google’s algorithm, which means patients are less likely to find you through organic search.
How to fix the problem of images slowing down your website.
One of the key things we had to fix were the sizes of the images on the website. We’ve over 100 blogs and vlogs on the site, so it was going to be image-heavy, but back when we got started, we were using images that weren’t always compressed for the web.
How should you optimise images that you are going to be uploading to your Private Practice website?
It’s worth remembering that there are two main image file types that you’re likely to put on your website. The first file type is a ‘JPEG’ (these are image files that are quality level adjustable, which helps keep a balance between the image quality and the file size), and the second file type are ‘PNG’ files. These are typically very high-quality images, but they come with a price of being bigger in file size.
There’s a growing school of thought that we should probably be moving towards using JPEGs, rather than PNGs, because of file size reasons.
It’s very possible to reduce the file size of an image – this is known as compression.
If you squash down the file size of an image, you’ll make it quick and nimble in terms of loading speed, but do that too much, and it becomes all grainy.
It’s important to understand that it’s the collective amount of images file size on an individual website page that matters. Ideally, you don’t want to go over 1MB per page as a maximum, so if you have more than one image on a page, you’ll need to make images smaller file sizes.
How can you make image files smaller in size?
You can use a tool such as ‘Tiny jpg’ (go to tinyjpg.com and they’ll let you adjust up to 20 images for free. The tool makes a huge difference (it can compress images in the region of 70%) and it can do this without spoiling picture quality because it can identify textures and patterns, and strip out what’s not needed.
When I last checked, you could sign up for a year’s license to use the tool for $25 a year, or if you’re into your photography and like to dabble in Photoshop, you can get a one-time purchase plugin for $65.
How can you change the image file size if they’re already loaded up onto your website?
You could do the DIY method of taking out each individual image, resizing it and putting it back, or you could hire a techy (we can help) or web developer to do this en-masse for you. Doing this will give you the greatest file compression.
But if you really can’t be ar***d, then there are WordPress plugins which will make some useful differences to your file sizes.
For example, you could use…
ShortPixel image optimiser.
ShortPixel will allow you to compress up to 100 images per month (in return for your email address) and there is a paid for version that allows for more control.
ReSmushit image optimiser.
ReSmush.it does an excellent job, but the compression level is fixed. It’s probably the one I’d go for. Note, there is also a plugin called ‘Smush.it’, but ‘ReSmush.it’ is thought to be far better on review sites.
Plugins are great, but they won’t compress as much as you would be able to, if you first reduce your file size (e.g. using TinyJPG) and THEN upload the file to your website.
We reduced all our images from around 230MB to 110MB for the whole site.It made a huge improvement to the page load time.
How to fix your SSL certification problems.
Our next strategy was to fix a glitch with our SSL certificate. Having a Secure Socket Layer certificate (it’s full name), helps show Google that websites are secure – because there’s an element encryption in the way that it loads.
When our Ninja website was first built, it was listed as ‘https://www.privatepracticeninja.co.uk‘ . After a while, we then applied for it to be SSL certified, when in 2017 Google shared that they preferred sites to have SSL certification – in fact, it’s an increasingly important element in how Google ranks your site.
For some reason, we appeared twice in Google’s eyes – firstly as https://www.privatepracticeninja.co.uk and secondly as https://www.privatepracticeninja.co.uk It was as if our website was leading a double life – it’s known as ‘mixed content’ and Google didn’t like that.
We fixed the problem using a WordPress plugin called Really Simple SSL Pro. It rummages around in your site and magically converts http links to https links. Job done.
How to speed up your website, using code compression.
You may be wondering how all of these changes, which took just a couple of hours one afternoon, affected the speed of our website?
Well when we tested our site a second time (as viewed on a mobile phone), Uptrends informed us that we’d reduced our load time down to just 2.6 seconds. Which is fast enough to please Google.
I challenge you to test your Private Practice website and see how well it’s performing. See if you can make some quick wins to zoop up your site’s speed, and as always…
Get In Touch!
…if you need a bit of guidance.
Go test that website
Now it’s time for you to grow your Private Practice.