The first thing to know is that how quickly your page loads says a _lot _about your website quality. Not only from the point of view of visitors to your website (imagine the frustration you feel after clicking a link that takes a long time to load), but also from an SEO perspective. This article will take you through why this is the case, and what you can do about it to make improvements.
How does page speed affect SEO
For those who don’t know, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO, put simply, is making sure your website is as professional and user friendly as it can possibly be because search engines like it.
The ranking of your page in a search engines results for users depends on the algorithm of the search engine determining that your website is not only helpful to the individual’s enquiry but also that it’s going to load within a reasonable time.
Even if your website matches the search engine users’ question directly, they will bump you down the search results pages if your website simply doesn’t load fast enough.
Likewise, individuals who click your link but then back out before it loads damages your SEO ranking again, and so pushes you further down the list. This is known as conversion, and you want a high conversion rate of people clicking on to your website _and _staying around for a little while. Slow loading speeds do not encourage this.
In short, if your website loads slowly, then people will not wait around forever. They’ll leave, the algorithm will determine your website to be unreliable and unprofessional, and then you’ll find yourself at the back of the queue on search engine results pages, which just means fewer visitors to your site in the long run.
So, what can you do to make your pages load faster?
How to improve website speed
Well, first you need to know the ideal time, and that’s around 3 seconds. Anything longer, and you’re already slipping down the list of professional websites. If you’re sat thinking ‘Wow, I’m not even close’ don’t worry, we can help you, and heres how to start.
Loading and upload Speed
The first step is to get familiar with your loading times. The best way to do this is using Google’s free tool: Google Page Speed Insights. All you need to do is copy your URL into the search bar at the top, and you’ll be given a score of between o and 100. 90-100 is ideal, 50-89 is OK, and 0-49 is poor. Make sure you check back on the Page Speed Insights page every time you make a change to see if it improves the rating at all.
Next is to look at the server type you are using. If it is shared hosting (hint: it usually is) then you need to know that this results in the lowest website loading times because, well, you’re sharing the server with multiple different websites, so the server can quickly be overrun and load slower. Virtual Private Servers or Dedicated Servers offer faster loading times, but are more expensive, so work out a budget if you’re considering this option.
A great free thing to look at if your site uses a lot of images is the size of them. Optimizing this to make the image size smaller (that’s file size, rather than physical size), will actually improve the load time of the website. Using tools such as Image Optim can actually help you here. Image Optim specifically give you the option of choosing the quality you need so you can make certain compromises for smaller files and lower load times.
Another free option is to consider your website fonts. That’s right! Even the amount of fonts you use affects loading times, so reduce them to only what you absolutely need. Multiple fonts might look eye-catching, but they’ll only slow you down, so you need to strip it back to the bare minimum – besides, if your words and content are good enough, nobody will care how they look.
The last thing to look at (another free one, you’re welcome) is the amount of plugins you have installed on your site. Look at what is necessary and delete those that are not. You should also look for high-quality plugins with less script and styles, because these load much faster. Try researching the best plugin options for fast load times if you aren’t already using a plugin you’re satisfied with.
Overall, faster loading times will ultimately help you and your website. This can lead to more traffic to your website, more favorable views from search engine algorithms, and more success for you. Look at our suggestions above, make changes where you can, and test your website load speed after every change, and hopefully you’ll see a difference in the amount of visitors you’re getting when your website loads quicker!