General SEO

Find Out What Makes Site Speed Important for SEO

by Tom Buckland October 25, 2018

Site speed is important when you are looking to search engine optimize (SEO) your site.

In 2010 Google announced that your site speed would impact your ranking. What they mean by this is how long a visitor will have to twiddle their thumbs until your site has loaded in its entirety.

People are impatient by nature, especially in today’s digital age.

Therefore, if they have to wait longer than a few seconds, they will close your site and move onto something or someone else.

Site speed is important to both your SEO and your UX conversion. More importantly, site speed is essential to keeping your visitors happy and wanting more.

What is site speed?

Definition of Site Speed

Your site speed is the speed at which it takes the pages in the website to load in their entirety in order for visitors to effectively view the content. Your page speed can be described in two ways.

  1. The page load time, which is the time it takes to display the content on any specific page in its entirety.
  2. The time to the first byte. The time to the first byte would be how long it takes for your browser to fully receive that first byte from the server.

There are a variety of ways you can evaluate your site speed. However, using Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a great way to gain that valuable information. The page speed will incorporate data from CrUX and then will report on two important speed metrics. 1. First Contentful Paint and 2. DomContentLoaded.

What is the average speed for websites to load?

The average site speed for most websites is approximately 7 seconds. However, the ideal time for loading is three seconds, give or take. The reason three seconds is the magical number is that it is essentially how long it takes someone to determine if they are going to stay and read what your site has to offer or find another site with similar information.

Since you want to keep your visitors happy, it is to your advantage to work on increasing your site speed so that each page loads fast. What you want is to get as close to that three-second magical mark as you possibly can.

Site speed loading:

Loading Site Speek

When you click on a link in Google, you expect that it will load fairly quickly. However, since people in today’s modern age are more mobile than they ever have been, it is detrimental that you not only concern yourself with the speed at which your page loads online through a desktop or laptop. You also need to worry about site loading through other devices as well.

You also need to concern yourself with your sites ability to load on a mobile device like a tablet or cellphone within that three-second window. You will want to focus more on mobile devices then you would like a laptop or desktop device because of the increasing popularity of mobile devices. Come and find out more about putting mobile devices first by contacting us here.

There are many ways you can improve your site speed. Since Google and other search engines are using the speed at which your site loads as a ranking factor for SEO, you are going to want to rectify your site speed. Read through these tips carefully to help you know what you need to look for when improving site speed.

Enable Compression:

What this means is that you will enable a software like GZip, to help you reduce the size of HTML, JavaScript and CSS files that are generally larger than 150 bytes. However, be careful not to use this software to compress image files. For that, you want to use Photoshop or something similar.

Compressing is important because it will reduce the size of these files without taking away from the information. Using compression’s will increase your site speed because there is essentially less to load without sacrificing what is important.

Reduce All Redirects:

Redirects are when your visitor has to wait for another page to load while on your website. You want to reduce the number of redirects you place on your website because every time there is a redirect, your visitor has to wait additional time. What they are waiting for is the HTTP request-response cycle to complete. This response cycle can be time-consuming depending on the amount of information there is to load.

Reducing redirects will help your site speed exponentially because your visitors won’t have to wait for additional data to load every time they are looking for information. Check your redirect pattern; you want to limit it to two. If there are more than that, rectify it to avoid additional wait times.

Use browser caching to your advantage:

All browsers cache a lot of information. The reason for this is so that when someone comes to visit your site a second time, the browser doesn’t have to reload in entirety. Some of the information browsers caches are:

  • JavaScript Files
  • Stylesheets
  • Images
  • External Linking
  • So much more..

You can use a tool like YSlow to help provide you insight as to whether or not you have an expiration date arranged for your cache. Unless your site is designed to change frequently, you can set this for a year. That is a reasonable time for your cache to store information before it clears automatically.

You can learn more about leveraging caching to your advantage through Varvy.

Make sure images are optimized:

You want to make sure that all your images are no larger than they need to be to serve their purpose. You also want to check that they are in the right format. Additionally, you want to be sure all images are compressed specifically for web use.

Use imaging software like CSS sprites to help you create your templates for your images. Especially those images that you frequently use on your website such as buttons. What this software will do is combine your image into one large image that will load at the same time. How this improves site speed? It improves speed by reducing HTTP requests. You will be saving load time by not making your visitors wait for each image individually.

Fun Fact for your information: PNG’s for images is better for when you are using graphics that contain fewer than 16 colours. However, JPEG’s are better for actual photographs.

Remove blocks to JavaScript:

All browsers have to build something called a DOM tree. What a DOM tree is, is a Document Object Model tree that is both language-independent as well as cross-platform application programming language. How this tree gets built is by parsing HTML before accessing your page.

Basically, if your page encounters a script while loading, your page will have to stop loading and execute a command before it can continue. Therefore, you want to avoid blocking JavaScript so that this process can be executed faster and more reliably than otherwise. In short: Don’t block JavaScript.  It serves as a site speed service for you.

Other factors to consider to increase site speed:

  • Who you use as your host can impact site speed. You will get what you paid for, so you want to be sure that you are picking a host for your website that will not decrease site speed. Look into what hosts are suited for the type of business you are running.
  • All embedded media. Any external media that you use like videos can lower your load time. Though they are highly valuable, you want to make sure it doesn’t reduce site speed dramatically. The reason they reduce site speed is that of the extra data involved in the commands or the lack of compression.
  • Your browser, your plugins and your apps. You should look into testing your website on all browsers and not just the one you use frequently. Not all browsers are uniform in the way they load sites. Additionally, apps can also seriously reduce the speed at which your site loads.
  • What theme you are using. Designing a website can be a difficult task. There are a lot of design themes that contain effects that will slow your load time. Check into which theme design you are using and if it is impacting your load speed. While looking into this, contact us here to find more about design mistakes.
  • Too many ads. Yes, ads generate revenue for websites. However, those ads can contribute to the speed at which your site loads significantly. On top of making sure ads aren’t bothering your visitors, make sure they aren’t slowing your speed as well.
  • Check your website script code. You don’t want to have an HTML that is too dense. Additionally, if your CSS is not efficient, it will lower the speed at which your website loads considerably. You want to look into this.
  • Widgets can impact your site speed. Check into your social buttons or your comment areas to be sure that they aren’t impacting your site speed negatively.

Site speed: One and Done?

Your work will never be done when it comes to checking into your site speed. Since you are wanting to mobile optimize as well as keep site speed up on desktop devices, you will want to look into the various things that will slow your site speed down. Do this on a regular basis so that your visitors will never have to worry about load times.

You can never have your site load too quickly. There won’t be a visitor on earth who will comment to you that your website loads too quickly. Keep working on increasing your site speed and maintain this on a regular basis. You can automate this process through your PageSpeed Insights testing and then you can get regular progress updates. Always be sure to keep your ear to the floor, so to speak, so that when new ways to improve site speed are uncovered, you will be the first to know and implement them.

Where to go from here with this new information:

You are now aware of the various things that can impact your site speed. Furthermore, you are aware of what you can do to fix this issue. Since search engines do use your site speed as a ranking factor, you want to make sure this is something you work on immediately.

When visitors come to your site, they want to know that it will load quickly and efficiently. Therefore, go through these tips and potential issues on a frequent basis.

Benefits of improving site speed:

Visitors will come to your site. Moreover, they will come back. If your site speed is down from a 22 second load time to four to five second load time, you will find visitors more likely to come back again and again. Overall, this will improve your productivity considerably.

Improving mobile site speed will broaden your visitor scope as half the world doesn’t use desktop devices for internet searching anymore.

Your overall ranking will improve. You won’t go from a page five result to a page one result because of improved site speed since many other factors are considered, but you can count on an improved ranking.

We are always happy to help you increase your website efficiency and reliability. If you are wanting to find out how to improve your overall website and SEO ranking, you can always get in contact with us, or fill out the form below to get a quote from us and how we can help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Tom

Hi, I'm Tom, Founder & Director of HQ SEO. I live and breathe SEO. I hope you enjoy my findings. Interested in SEO?
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