To satisfy both your website visitors and search engines, you need to optimize your website’s page speed. People don’t like to wait too long for web pages to load. In fact, people are likely to abandon a website altogether if a single page takes more than a few seconds to load.
Thankfully, there are ways to improve your website’s performance by optimizing your page load speed. By taking the right steps to increase page speed for your website, you’ll be able to improve user satisfaction and search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. To give you a better understanding of how page speed works, what it is, why it’s important, and how to approach page speed optimization, the following is a complete guide to page speed.
To determine how to optimize page speed, you need to know exactly what page speed is and what factors into it. Simply put, page speed is the amount of time it takes for particular web pages to load. Several items can influence page speed and make a page take longer to load. These potential factors include page file size, image compression, and the website’s hosting server.
The average page load speed for websites today is 10.3 seconds on desktop computers and 27.3 seconds on mobile devices. This is a long time, making it important for websites to have far shorter loading times if they want to attract and retain visitors.
Keep in mind that page speed and site speed are different from each other. Although both can influence SEO, page speed refers to specific pages, while site speed refers to the average time it takes to load various web pages across an entire website. Generally, if you can optimize page speed for all of your web pages, you’ll automatically increase site speed.
If you’re wondering why evaluating page speed is important, there are a couple of main reasons. The first is that a slow page speed will deter visitors who visit not just the page, but the entire website. The second is that unoptimized page speed can hurt your rankings in search engines, preventing your website from being seen.
Page speed and conversion rate are correlated in that the speed of your web pages can directly affect conversions. If your pages don’t load quickly enough, your website visitors are more likely to leave your website, after which they may not ever return. Even if your website content is rich and your other branding efforts are effective, your website is your company’s online hub. If people don’t want to access your website, you’re bound to lose business.
Through a page speed increase, you’ll be able to make sure that visitors are less inclined to leave your website and more effectively move them toward a purchase.
You might also be asking, “How does page speed affect SEO?” Page speed and SEO go hand in hand. Although it may not have been as big of a factor in the early days of SEO, when keywords were the most important ranking factor, page speed has become increasingly critical in recent years. This is because Google focuses more on the user experience, which page speed can greatly affect. Specifically, when people leave your website immediately after visiting a web page, this becomes visible to search engines in the form of a high bounce rate. A high bounce rate, combined with a slow page speed, can subsequently hurt your rankings.
Google first made page speed a ranking factor for desktop versions of websites in 2010, but the site has made it a critical factor for both mobile and desktop websites since 2018. This is why you must make sure that both your desktop and mobile website versions have optimized page speed to rank in search engines.
If you want to optimize page speed, you should aim for a specific target. The general consensus seems to be that a delay of three seconds in page loading can turn away the majority of website visitors. Because of this, Google and SEO experts agree that the ideal page loading speed is one to two seconds.
However, your page loading speed doesn’t necessarily need to be as fast as Google’s, which aims for under half a second. The key is to optimize your web pages without compromising the content and user experience. Consider what your website needs to offer visitors the ideal experience and how you can increase page speed without hurting your business in other ways.
One study by Geoff Kenyon showed how different page loading speeds compare to the page speed for most websites. The study found that:
This shows that if you can get your web pages to load in under two seconds, you’ll surpass the majority of competing websites.
Page speed optimization is the process of implementing certain changes to your website that increase page speed. This type of optimization could entail anywhere from a few minor changes to more dramatic modifications to content and other aspects. Good page speed optimization can help you maximize your website’s overall loading speed and make sure that people don’t leave your website. In turn, you can benefit from improved SEO as search engines reward your site for optimized loading times.
The key is to know how to approach page speed optimization. To start with, you need to know what to specifically look for when analyzing your website’s page speeds.
If you’re not sure how to check page speed, understanding what to consider is critical.
Before attempting to optimize page speed, you must know what specific issues are impacting this metric. By evaluating your page speed, you can see how long it takes for a page to load, along with what’s causing it to slow down for users. Regular analysis can help you ensure that any new content or other changes to your site aren’t negatively impacting its user experience and causing people to leave.
You can measure page speed in a few different ways. Google offers a PageSpeed Insights tool that makes it easy to identify certain issues that may negatively impact page speed. This tool analyzes the following metrics:
This is the amount of time it takes for your website’s server to respond to a request. Specifically, it’s the delay that occurs between a user’s HTTP request to load a page and the time the user’s browser receives the first byte of data on the page.
This metric tracks the amount of time taken for a complete web page to render with all of its content. It’s the easiest method of analyzing your page speed.
FCP is the loading time required for the web page to render the first pieces of content as defined in the page’s Document Object Model (DOM). This metric is crucial because it determines how many resources users can interact with when first loading the page, which can help keep them engaged as the rest of the page finishes loading. If users can access a video or a certain amount of text, for example, this could help significantly reduce your web page’s bounce rate.
By analyzing all three of these metrics, you can find out if your web pages need to be faster and take the appropriate steps to optimize this ranking factor.
When developing a page speed optimization strategy, there are many elements to look at and optimize. Here you’ll learn how to optimize every aspect of your web pages that might cause your pages to load too slowly.
To increase web page loading speed, the following are some specific areas to focus on:
One of the core areas to look at in page speed optimization is FTTB. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool can measure this and other metrics to help gauge your site’s overall speed. You can also see what the FTTB and overall loading speed are for both desktop and mobile versions of your web pages.
Certain aspects of your web design might be the more obvious source of problems when it comes to page load speed. However, some instances might involve unreliable web hosting.
Ultimately, your web host plays the most important role in dictating your pages’ load speed. Some hosting services can cause pages to load too slowly, regardless of how minimal their content is.
Some of the ways web hosting can impact your page speed include:
This is why you need to find a reliable web hosting service for your website. Even if you’re worried about spending too much on hosting, poor web hosting can cost you a lot more money in lost revenue if it compromises loading speeds.
Another potential factor that can hurt your web page speed is an inactive or redundant plugin. While plugins include the option to deactivate them without deleting them, in case they serve a purpose in the future, it’s often best to simply remove them altogether. If you’re not using certain plugins, get rid of them if possible. You can always install plugins again later as needed.
There are a few ways you can prevent plugins from causing page speeds to decrease, including:
Not only can problematic plugins cause your website to slow down, but they may also expose your website to certain security threats, including hackers and attacks. Subsequently, your website could suffer from much more than slow page speeds as these threats hurt SEO rankings and your bottom line.
Incorporating a reliable CDN can further increase page speed for your website. This is because as users browse the internet, the physical location of the servers you use could factor into page loading times.
Unlike conventional networks, a CDN hosts your website via the cloud, transferring content to the servers that are as close as possible to your clients. This will effectively boost loading speeds if the geographic location is an issue.
CDNs offer a number of other benefits that go beyond improving loading times. Additionally, these networks can protect your website against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, which hackers often launch to overload a website and cause it to crash. CDNs also provide protection from other types of attacks and hackers, and they can make sure content is consistently accessible in the event of traffic surges or malware interference.
The images on your web pages can greatly affect your page speed. Large images can be enough to significantly slow down a web page, causing people to click away. Not only can large images cause pages to slow down, but they can also take up too much space on the screen, preventing people from accessing the rest of the page’s content. Again, this inconvenience could leave a bad impression and result in poor page performance.
If you want to know how to speed up page load time for images, there are multiple ways to do so, such as:
Many images are uncompressed when first created, which means they have a large file size that takes up much of a page’s content. By compressing large images, you can reduce their file size without reducing their quality.
To compress images on your website, you can use certain types of plugins like WordPress’s WP Smush or Mass Image Compressor. You can also adjust the physical width of your images to make them smaller and take up less space on the page.
As you compress images and prepare to add them to your website, you can go by Google’s image optimization guidelines. These guidelines give webmasters the ability to determine precisely how to optimize images for their websites, which can help optimize the user experience and page speed.
You can follow these guidelines by taking the following steps:
The steps involved for mobile page speed optimization are similar to those to take for your desktop website, but there are certain differences. If you want to know how to increase the page speed of mobile websites, you can do the following:
Redirects can slow your website down due to the fact that it takes time for the server to locate and retrieve the original document that users request through a click on the original link that’s no longer valid. Redirecting can take long enough for users to leave the new web page before it has the chance to load.
Mobile devices can’t handle as much data as quickly as desktop and laptop computers. To make sure your website is mobile-responsive, try to minimize the code and adopt a more minimalist approach to design. This will help increase page load speeds for mobile websites.
Many websites feature signup processes that consist of as many as seven steps or more. By reducing this process to a maximum of three or four steps, you can get rid of unnecessary code that helps boost page speed. Also, optimizing the signup process will make it less frustrating for people who wish to create accounts, keeping them from leaving due to impatience.
The AMP project helps ensure your web pages look their best and load fast enough on all devices, including smartphones and tablets. This is due to AMP’s minimalist HTML that allows for shorter loading times. In general, every website should have AMP-activated to create a mobile-compatible counterpart on all types of mobile devices.
Like desktop browsers, mobile browsers have the ability to save web page data on smartphones and tablets to enable them to load faster when accessed later. Browser caching facilitates this.
It’s important to remember that Google prioritizes mobile devices over other types of devices when ranking websites. This has been the case since Google introduced its Mobile-First Index. With good mobile web design and optimized SEO specifically targeting mobile users, you’ll remain in good standing according to the Mobile-First Index.
Many webmasters who are new to website optimization may wonder, “How does page speed affect SEO?” Now that you know the answer to this question and how to optimize page speed, you can begin incorporating the right strategy for your pages and website as a whole. As your competitors struggle with slower pages, you’ll have the chance to get and stay above competitors with a website that produces the kinds of results you want when it comes to search engine rankings and conversion rates.
When combined with other SEO efforts, page speed optimization can help you appeal to Google and avoid getting on its bad side. As a result, you’ll be able to maximize revenue and ROI for your business.