Some time in 2010, Google announced to the world that page speed would impact the ranking of a website. Page speed, which many digital marketers still mistake for “site speed”, refers to the time that a website visitor has to wait for a page to load or the time it takes for the content of a particular page to be fully displayed. Site speed on the other hand, refers to a sample of pageviews on a website, or in simple terms, the time it takes for the entire website to load.
What then, has page speed got to do with SEO? Or what is the relationship between page speed and SEO? On average, the ideal page load time for a website is less than 3 to 4 seconds because any longer than that, it will have an impact on your audience’s user experience as the time they have to wait is much too long to get what they want from your site. Consequently, your site will not rank favourably on the search engine ranking pages.
Page Speed and SEO – According to Google:
“A search result for a resource having a short load time relative to resources having longer load times can be promoted in a presentation order, and search results for the resources having longer load times can be demoted.”
So we can see that in order to ensure that customers get the best user experience possible, you must ensure that your website’s pages do not take too much time to load as it can cause your customers to “bounce off” website. Therefore, a faster page speed is vital in ranking higher on Google and is nowadays one of the more important ranking factors.
Let’s take a look at what are some of the things that we can do to improve your page speed.
(1) Your Host
Where you choose to host your websites is a huge factor in the speed of your sites. In particular, a cheap or bad web hosting can drastically affect the page speed and SEO of your sites, so it’s vital that you choose the right host from the beginning. Some of the better hosts that I can recommend includes Siteground and A2 Hosting. Steer away from web hosts under the Endurance group, which includes Hostgator, BlueHost, SiteBuilder, FatCow, etc. Remember, you get what you paid for so be sure to select the right host. In particular, if you are running a resource-intensive website, stay away from these web hosts as they will be unable to keep up with your site’s demands.
(2) Your Theme
The theme that you picked for your WordPress website can greatly affect your page speed and SEO too. For instance, some themes that have been designed extensively could have badly coded files and effects that can penalized your website load speed. So consider also the performence of a theme and not just its asethetics, and stick to themes with many great reviews such as GeneratePress, Avada and Astra themes.
(3) Huge Images
Although larger images often look nicer on websites because of their higher resolution, putting them up on your site means that it will take a lot of time to load them as they will need more data to load, hence resulting in slower page speed. So be sure to optimize your images before uploading them by converting them to png or jpeg formats as they are both compressed for web use. In general, png files are better for graphics with less than 16 colours and jpeg files are better for photographs.
Additionally, you can use CSS sprites to create a template for images that you use frequently like buttons and icons as they combine your images into one large image that loads together immediately, showing only the parts that you want to show.
(4) External Embedded Media
External media refers to property such as images and videos which you inserted on your pages but which are from external sources. These media can drastically lower your load time. As a guide, to increase your load time, try to host the videos on your own server.
(5) Too Many Advertisements
Too many advertisements on your site can not only reduce your user experience, irritate your visitors and increase your bounce rate, it can also slow down your page speed. So ensure that you only place the advertisements that are necessary.
Some widgets on your site such as social media buttons, social sharing buttons or comment areas can have a great effect on the speed of your site.
(7) Unoptimized Browsers, Plugins and Apps
Ensure that you test your website across all browsers such as Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari or Internet Explorer, and also on different mobile platforms like iOS, Android or Windows phones. Beware of apps such as Flash, or resource-heavy plugins as they can seriously reduce your page speed.
(8) Inefficient Codes
(9) Reduce Your Redirects
Your page will take extra time to load each time a page redirects to another page. For instance, if page A redirects to page B and then to page C, each of the additional redirects will add more waiting time to the page load time.
(10) Use a Content Distribution Network
A content distribution networks (CDN), or content delivery network, is a system of distributed servers or networks that delivers pages and other web content to the end user based on his geographical location, the origin of the webpage and the content delivery server.
The objective is to speed up the delivery of content of websites as the closer the CDN server is to the user, the faster the content will be delivered to him.
CDNs today include web objects such as text, graphics and scripts, downloadable content such as media files and software and applications such as eCommerce sites, live streaming media and social networks.
To conclude, speed has a great impact on user experience, which would in turn affect your site’s SEO as Google expects pages to load in 2 – 3 seconds. So do ensure that as part of your website development, pay attention to the factors above and optimize them accordingly. Analyse your site frequently too, using sites like Google Page Insights or Pingdom to check that your page speed load time is within the acceptable limit.
I hope the above can help you with your website development but if you still have any questions, feel free to reach out to me below or click here to find out more about our web development package.
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