Website loading speed is so important that Google made it a ranking factor in 2010. Surprisingly, a lot of businesses seem to overlook it when optimizing their websites. Regardless of your type of business, the online world has become super competitive, and you need to cover all bases to make sure you rank high on SERPs.
So, what is site speed, and what does it have to do with SEO? Site speed is the amount of time it takes your website to load. It’s affected by various factors such as image compression, page file size, and the website server. Now, there are several ways to measure page speed.
Common Ways to Measure Page Loading Speed
The first is the fully loaded page, which accounts for the amount of time it takes for your web page to load 100% of the content available. However, it goes beyond that to something known as time-to-first-byte, which measures how long it takes for a website to start loading. This is when a page starts at a white screen, preparing to load information.
The last is the first-meaningful-paint, which is the amount of time it takes to load enough information for consumers to start reading. Your website could have a 10-second full-time loading speed but a 1.5-second first-meaning-paint loading speed. This means that your customers can start interacting with the website instantly before everything else loads fully.
A great tool for checking your website’s performance is GT Metrix.
What Makes Site Speed Important for SEO?
In a nutshell, a slow-loading website has the ability to hurt your Google rankings. In 2018, Google made a Speed Update that made page speed a ranking factor for mobile searches as well. Page speed affects both bounce and conversion rates because if your website is too slow, users will hit the back button, leave your website, and find a faster competitor.
A fast website gives you the opportunity to attract users and make a great first impression because they will get to see your website. A fast-loading website with incredible content will rake in high traffic, build your trust, credibility, and brand loyalty.
If you have opened a website that takes forever to load, and once it does, you discover a terrible user experience, you most likely get disappointed, so don’t let that be your website.
How to Increase Page Loading Speeds
Currently, the average speed loading times stand at 4.7 seconds for desktops and 11 seconds for mobile. Google, however, has set the best speed index to 3 seconds or under, which is the most efficient for SEO. What page speed does your website currently have, and what can you do to improve it?
Reduce Your Image Sizes
If there is something that is lagging your website loading speed, it has to be your images. High definition images can be a significant drag because they take a long time to load fully. The best thing you can do is replace them with smaller compressed images, and your page speed will improve as a result.
You can also control what images load immediately to reduce the amount of time it takes for the web page to load. Select the most vital images, and they’ll load first, which is basically the ones above the fold. The rest of the images will load as the users scroll down, and even though it’s possible to select the images manually, it’s a lot easier with the right plugin.
Get Efficient Hosting
If you’re building your website, you may not consider hosting a big deal, but you’d be surprised at the difference the right hosting makes for your page loading speeds.
The thing is, shared hosting may save you a lot of money initially, but it could also set you up for disaster because, during peak conditions, you’ll experience slow loading pages, lower traffic, and in turn, lower conversion rates.
Only Keep the Plugins You Use
For your website to run smoothly, certain plugins can be quite useful. However, you need to differentiate what is important and what is taking up too much space and making your website bulky for no reason. Too many plugins may be making your website sluggish because it becomes harder to process, so decide what to keep and what to let go.
Pick a Better Theme
You may have a gorgeous theme, but understand that not all themes are as efficient as they should be. For your speed loading times, it’s a lot better to have a simple and yet aesthetically appealing website that’s not too adorned. Adorned themes tend to be bulky and slow a website down, but this is nothing to worry about because there are tons of themes to choose from.
Zip All Website Files
Compressing files is vital because it allows for faster transmission to the browser. Zipping files reduces the amount of data that must be transmitted without changing the final information to be displayed. You can find many great zipping applications online, so find one that will not interfere with your page speed loading times.
Set Up a Caching Plugin
If you’re not caching yet, you need to start because you’ll be directing browsers to download stored files from the user’s cache instead of downloading from the server. This will cut loading time for your return customers. There are many useful caching plugins online, and all you have to do is find the right one.
Implement a CDN
A CDN is a content delivery network, and one of the best things that could improve your site speed. Content delivery networks figure out from what location a user is visiting a website from, then sends the information from the server closest to them. This increases page loading speed since the information is coming from a closer location.
Improving Your Site Loading Speed to Boost SEO
Site speed and SEO must go hand in hand because your website can’t rank high on SERPs with slow loading speeds. Analyze your current loading speed to determine how much work you have to put into improving it, then take the steps above to do that. Overall, you need to focus on providing your users with an incredible user experience.
That said, if you need professional help with your site loading speed, then Never Gravity has got you covered. Please get in touch with us today, and we’ll discuss your overall website design, your user experience, and how we can get you high search rankings.