While keyword research, link building, and content marketing are the pillars of an effective SEO strategy, page speed performance also plays a vital role in your SEO campaigns. In fact, it has always been a part of Google’s ranking algorithm since 2009. Today, Google is now putting more weight on user experience to rank pages, particularly page speed. This is why page speed optimization should be a top priority.
Many people – especially those who are new to digital marketing – get caught up in the creative visual aspects of their website. They tend to overlook the important (often considered boring) technical aspects of their website. However, neglecting your site’s overall responsiveness and performance will eventually result in little-to-no traffic to your website or high bounce rates.
Take note of significant site issues like page errors or slower page load times. If you don’t attend to these, your site is likely to be penalized by Google and your user experience will be at an all-time low.
Page Speed Key Statistics You Must Be Aware Of
In today’s fast-paced digital world, more than 98% of internet users expect websites to load in less than five seconds. Anything beyond that makes them leave your website and look for other options (your competitors). As a result, your business loses more leads and sales. Here are significant statistics to note:
• Surprisingly, only 15% of websites, as of 2019, operate at an acceptable page speed
• More than 36% of visitors bounce off your site when your website takes five seconds or more to load
• 70% of consumers say the site’s loading time affects their purchasing decision
• A one-second delay drops conversion rates by 7%
• Only 25% of business owners monitor page speed correctly
• Business websites performing at the optimal page speed increase their sales by 81%
• Business owners optimizing site speed has improved their client retention by 68%
Page Speed Optimization: SEO’s Best Practices
While the statistics above show the importance of enhancing page speed regarding user experience, it also plays a vital role in your SEO campaign. Based on the latest search algorithm update, page speed is now an even more significant factor in your search rankings. It also shows that slow pages can reduce the search ranking by 15 to 25%.
In an article written by Billy Hoffman of Moz, he mentioned Google could also be measuring time to the first byte when considering page speed. This means a slow page speed affects your website’s indexation negatively, as search engines can only crawl a few pages.
Page Speed Test For Mobile And Desktop
Evaluating your website’s speed performance is essential to your digital marketing campaign. Your website should work well across all devices, or you’re bound to experience a negative impact. Make sure to run a speed test on both mobile and desktop devices.
There are various online tools you can use to check your site’s speed performance. Choose a reliable tool that offers you insights and results for both your mobile and desktop versions.
Quite often, you’ll notice that you’re getting lower scores on your mobile page speed tests than those measuring your desktop. Although site audits are recommended for low scores, keep in mind this could also be due to your internet connection.
The optimal loading time on mobile should be less than three seconds. On the other hand, your site should not take more than two seconds to load on desktop devices.
Here are some of the most effective ways to improve your page speed performance:
1. Enable Compression
2. Diagnose Your Code
Sometimes, we tend to overlook the simplest details in your code. This includes removing spaces, commas, and other unnecessary characters. Optimizing your code can greatly improve your page speed. Consider checking the code comments and formatting, as well. Use Google’s recommendations of CSSNano and UglifyJS; these tools make it easier for you to identify and fix broken codes in the backend of your website.
3. Reduce Redirects
Another factor that affects page speed is the number of redirects from your website. When a page redirects to another page, it adds more loading time to the HTTP server. For instance, if your mobile redirect pattern looks like this: “thriveagency.com > www.thriveagency.com > m.thriveagency.com > m.thrive.com/home”, the additional pathways make your page load slower.
4. Enable Browser Caching
This step can enhance the overall browsing experience. Enabling browser caching allows the system to store the visitor’s browser. This means when they visit your website again their browser doesn’t need to send another HTTP request to the server. Thereby reducing the overall loading time for each page.
Once the first page is stored in the system’s cache, they only need to download new elements (if there are any) on subsequent pages. Experts recommend using a browser caching tool like YSlow to check if there’s an expiration date set for your cache. With this tool, you can also set your “expires” header for the duration of cached information. Generally, web developers set cache expiration for a year by default unless they make design modifications more frequently.
For WordPress site builder, here are the recommended caching plugins:
• W3 Total Cache
• WP Super Cache
• WP Rocket
5. Optimize Server Response Time
There are several things you need to check when optimizing your server response time. This includes the volume of your site traffic, the elements used for each page, and even your web hosting platform. Performing an in-depth 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 a lack of memory space. The optimal server response time is under 200ms. Check out this article for more information on how to optimize your time to first byte.
6. Utilize a Content Distribution Network
Using a reliable content distribution network (CDN) can streamline the distribution process of the content. This resolves the problem of the overall content structure of your website. With a CDN, you can easily organize the content in a specific database, which allows users to have faster and more reliable access to your site.
7. Optimize Images
You don’t have to remove all the images from your website to improve page speed, but make sure you optimize them. One of the things you should have in check is the format you use for your images. For instance, graphics fewer than 16 colors use the PNG-format; while JPEG is best for photographs. Inspect large and bulky images, as well. These can slow down your web pages and affect your site’s overall technical health.
Image optimization means reducing the 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 frequently use, like 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, largely reducing the loading time since there are fewer HTTP requests.
Gone are the days when you could easily boost your site rankings by simply building multiple backlinks. Looking closely at the recent algorithm updates, Google, along with other major search engines, has created smarter and stricter rules regarding site rankings. What’s more, they can easily detect spam and other blackhat (or any unethical) SEO procedures, it clearly states you should optimize both for users and search engines.
Page speed remains an important factor and should be one of the core concerns when building your SEO campaign. You shouldn’t just implement page 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.