Today, Google is putting more weight on user experience to rank sites, particularly site speed. See why optimizing loading speed should be a priority.
While keyword research, link building and content marketing are the cornerstones of an effective SEO strategy, site speed performance also plays a vital role in your SEO campaigns. In fact, it has always been part of Google’s ranking algorithm since 2009. Today, Google is putting more weight on user experience to rank websites , particularly site speed. That’s why optimizing loading speed should be a top priority.
Many people – especially those who are new to digital marketing – get excited about the visually creative aspects of your website. They tend to overlook the important (often considered boring) technical aspects of their site. However, neglecting your site’s overall responsiveness and performance will eventually result in little or no traffic to your site or high bounce rates.
Make note of significant site issues such as page errors or slower page load times. If you don’t heed this, your site is likely to be penalized by Google and your user experience will be at an all-time low.
Key site speed stats you should be aware of
In today’s fast-paced digital world, over 98% of internet users expect websites to load in less than five seconds. Anything beyond that causes them to leave your site and look for other options (your competitors). As a result, your business loses more leads and sales. Here are significant statistics to watch out for:
Surprisingly, only 15% of websites, as of 2019, operate at an acceptable page speed.
Over 36% of visitors bounce off your site when your site takes five seconds or more to load
70% of consumers say website load time affects their purchase decision
A one-second delay reduces conversion rates by 7%
Only 25% of business owners monitor page speed correctly
Business websites that run at optimal page speed increase their sales by 81%
Business owners who optimize for site speed have improved their customer retention by 68%
Site Speed Optimization: SEO Best Practices
In an article written by Billy Hoffman of Moz , he mentioned that Google could also measure time to first byte when considering site speed. This means that a slow page speed negatively affects your site’s indexing, as search engines can only crawl certain pages.
Website speed test for mobile and desktop
Assessing your website speed performance is essential for your digital marketing campaign. Your website must work well on all devices, or you are bound to experience a negative impact. Be sure to run a speed test on mobile and desktop devices.
There are several online tools that you can use to check your site’s speed performance. Choose a trusted tool that delivers insights and results for your mobile and desktop versions.
You’ll often notice that you’re getting lower scores on mobile page speed tests than those on desktop. While site audits are recommended for low scores, keep in mind that this could also be due to your internet connection.
The ideal charging time on the cell phone should be less than three seconds. On the other hand, your website shouldn’t take more than two seconds to load on computers or laptops.
Here are some of the most effective ways to improve your website speed performance:
1. Enable compression
2. Diagnose your code
Sometimes we tend to overlook the simplest details of your code. This includes removing spaces, commas and other unnecessary characters. Optimizing your code can greatly improve your page speed. Consider checking the code and formatting comments, too. Use Google’s recommendations from CSSNano and UglifyJS; these tools make it easy to identify and fix broken code on your website’s backend.
3. Reduce redirects
Another factor that affects page speed is the number of redirects to your site. When a page is redirected to another page, it adds more load time to the HTTP server. For example, if the mobile redirect pattern looks , additional paths slow down the page load time.
4. Enable browser caching
This step can improve the overall browsing experience. Enabling browser caching allows the system to cache the visitor’s browser. This means that when they visit your site again, their browser doesn’t have to send another HTTP request to the server. Thus reducing the total load time for each page.
Once the first page is stored in the system cache, they just need to download new elements (if any) on subsequent pages. Experts recommend using a browser caching tool like YSlow to check if there is a set expiration date for your cache. With this tool, you can also set the “expire” header for the duration of the cached information. Generally, web developers set the cache expiration to one year by default unless they make design changes more often.
5. Optimize server response time
There are several things you need to check when optimizing server response time. This includes the volume of your website traffic, the elements used for each page, and even your web hosting platform. Conducting an in-depth on-site audit is the best way to identify these performance roadblocks. The most common issues you may encounter during the process are broken database queries and running out of memory space. The optimal server response time is below 200ms.
6. Use a content delivery network
Using a trusted content delivery network (CDN) can streamline the content delivery process. This solves the problem of your site’s overall content structure. With a CDN, you can easily organize content into a specific database, which allows users to have faster and more reliable access to your website.
7. Optimize images
You don’t need to remove all images from your site to improve page speed, but make sure you optimize them. One of the things you should keep in mind is the format you use for your images. For example, graphics with less than 16 colors use the PNG format; while JPEG is better for photographs. Preview large, bulky images, too. This can slow down your web pages and affect the overall technical health of your site.
Image optimization means reducing file size without losing quality. The simplest and most effective way to do this is to compress the images before uploading them to your website.
There are also tools you can use to create a template for images you use often, such as buttons and icons. One of the most popular tools to check out is CSS sprites. This allows you to combine your images into one large image, greatly reducing load time as there are fewer HTTP requests.
Gone are the days when you could easily boost your website rankings simply by building multiple backlinks. Looking closely at recent algorithm updates, Google, along with other major search engines, has created smarter and stricter rules regarding website rankings. Also, they can easily detect spam and other blackhat (or any unethical) SEO procedures, it clearly states that you should optimize for both users and search engines.
Page speed remains an important factor and should be one of the main concerns when planning your website optimization actions . You shouldn’t just implement site speed optimization because of algorithm updates. If you look at it from a business perspective, a seamless browsing or shopping experience promotes excellent customer service.
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