The speed at which the pages on your website load has been recognised as an important SEO consideration for many years now. It is not a coincidence that there is a clear correlation between a fast page load speed and great Google rankings.
In the last week, page speed has been elevated from an important ranking factor to a priority factor. Google have announced that page speed will now become a ranking factor for mobile searches as well as desktop searches. While Google have stressed that the update will only affect the slowest pages on the web and a limited number of search queries, it is important to identify whether your website has a page speed issue. This is so you can make changes to improve your page speed in advance of the update, which is scheduled for July 2018.
How To Check Your Website’s Page Load Speed
Checking your website’s page load speed is not an exact science. You are likely to find that each page speed checker will deliver a different result. Page speed checkers such as Google’s own PageSpeedInsights and Pingdom are in most cases the most accurate and a great starting point.
The Pingdom website speed test is arguably the most insightful test as it provides a collection of insights and statistics that you can use to measure, benchmark and improve your page load speed.
To measure your page speed, you can simply enter your website’s URL and a test location in the case of Pingdom. In order to gain an accurate measurement, choose the test location that is closest to where most of your customers are based.
Once Pingdom has generated your test results, you can analyse the results and each individual metric.
The performance metric grades your website based on how well it adheres to a number of best practice standards. These standards are highlighted within the performance insights section. The standards range from leveraging browser caching to combining external CSS and minimising DNS lookups.
It is important to remember that while this metric does have some limited merit on its own, it is mostly a benchmark metric and a good indicator as to the areas you should target to improve your page load speed.
The most important measure on the page is the load time. Ideally, your page load time should be under 4 seconds. This is considered to be a reasonable amount of time for most visitors to wait. However, the closer the page speed is to 4 seconds, the more likely it is that your conversion rate will be negatively impacted.
Research conducted by Hubspot suggests that each 1-second delay in your load time results in a 7% reduction in conversions and an 11% loss of page views. It is clear that website visitors are impatient and less willing to wait for your website to load.
If your load time is less than 2 seconds, you do not need to be concerned about your page load speed. Although there is always room for improvement, you are less likely to attain a significant improvement in conversions. Your website will also be meeting and in many cases exceeding the expectations of your customers as 47% of customers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less.
If your load time is more than 2 seconds, you do not need to despair. The fact that you have identified that there is an issue will allow you to start making improvements to your website.
Your page size is a significant factor in determining your page load time. If you have a greater page size, the server that you use to host your website will have to load more data, which requires more server resources. This often results in a significant addition to your load time. Ideally, you should target a page size of between 2Mb and 5Mb. This will help to ensure that page load time is not adversely affected by page size.
If your page size is greater than 5Mb, it is likely to be because you have a significant amount of media content such as photos and videos. In the next section of the article, we will address how you can reduce your page size and improve your page load time.
How To Improve Your Page Load Speed
There is no single generic approach for improving your page load speed. There are a number of factors that influence your load speed and to drive a significant improvement, you need to identify the specific issues with your website. We can help you identify issues that are causing a slow page load speed on your website as part of our SEO Audit service.
There are also steps that you can take to improve your page load speed. These are outlined below.
Enable Gzip Compression
Gzip compression is a great way to reduce the file size of the pages on your website, reducing the strain on your website server, leading to an improved page load speed. You can typically expect to reduce the file size of your website pages by around 70%.
To enable Gzip compression you can either contact your website host and ask them to edit the configuration of the server or, if have a WordPress website, you can install a plugin to enable it. It is also possible to enable Gzip compression by adding code to files on your website server. However, this is only recommended if you have sufficient technical knowledge of websites.
Compress Media On Your Website
You would probably be surprised to know just how much data the media on your website is using. Every graphic, image and video that you add to your website will add to the file size of your website pages.
Fortunately, there is advanced compression technology available to help you reduce the size of graphics and images. In order to compress the graphics and images on your website, you can use your image editing program. Most image editing programs, including Photoshop and Pixelmator, include web export options.
These options allow you to compress your graphics and images to a web friendly size. If you have a WordPress website, you can also use an image compression plugin such as WP Smush to compress your images directly within WordPress.
Evaluate Your Website Host
Many page speed issues can be traced back to your website host. Not all website hosts offer a hosting service that delivers fast page load times. If their server is running old technology or has a high volume of traffic it is likely to deliver a poor user experience to your website visitors.
In order to accurately determine whether your website host is causing a slow page load speed, it is recommended that you use Google PageSpeed Insights. If the server that your website is hosted on is slow, PageSpeed Insights will highlight that you should reduce server response time within its optimisation suggestions.
If PageSpeed Insights does trigger this suggestion, it is always worth following up with your website host to see whether there is anything that they can do to improve your website’s speed. They may be able to suggest changes that you can make to your website or changes that they can enact within their server environment. Once they have taken action to improve this, test your website with PageSpeed Insights again and see if the suggestion is triggered.
In the case of persistent website speed issues, you may need to consider changing your website host. This is not always a straightforward process and it will require some planning. If you are in any doubt as to how to proceed, it is always worth contacting a professional digital marketing agency for help and advice. VIP IT is a professional digital marketing agency with experience in website hosting and optimising page load speed. Contact VIP IT today for your free quote.
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