A Practical Guide to Page Speed Improvement
Page speed means a lot for website users. It affects user experience in the sense that users do not like websites that load slowly. Google says you lose up to 0.8 percent conversion for every extra one second in load time. The bottom line is that when potential customers visit a website, they do not want the page to take too long to load. Pages that take a long time to load can completely disrupt users’ experience and turn people away from your website.
Why does page speed matter?
The simple answer would be that page speed is important for better user experience (UX) and Google loves fast websites and uses page speed as a ranking factor.
As mentioned above, page speed enhances user experience. With the rise in mobile users, page speed is becoming even more important as a ranking factor. Mobile users are constantly on the go, so they need pages to load quickly. That’s why Google started including page speed as a ranking factor in mobile search.
Page speed is extremely important since slow-loading pages can leave visitors scrambling to hit the back button and turn to competitors for information and answers. In addition, your site’s speed impacts your search rankings, conversions, and overall satisfaction with your business. If you want your site to perform well on desktop and mobile, you need to ensure your pages load quickly.
How do I improve my page speed?
Improving page speed simply means getting to load faster than it currently does. This makes checking your page speed check before you commence optimization efforts very vital.
Page Speed SEO Checker: The Starting Point
A page speed SEO checker can help you understand how fast your site pages load and give you an idea of how much you need to improve to be in Google’s good graces.
Page speed is a crucial on-page SEO factor that can majorly affect the way that users interact with your website. According to Think with Google, it’s best practice for your pages to load in under 1.3 seconds.
With every passing second that it takes for your site to load, you can expect an increased bounce rate which is not only an important metric to the success of your website, but it’s important to Google, too.
A page speed SEO checker can help you understand how fast your pages load and what could be causing a slowdown if any.
These metrics go a long way in helping you understand your website and any specific backend issues that might be slowing it down.
Failing to use a page speed test tool can be detrimental to your site — likely because you won’t know if your site is dangerously slow.
Using a page speed checker?
A page speed test can provide a variety of important information that can help you improve your page speed. For example, with a website load test like Google’s PageSpeed Insights, you’ll get an overall score that gives you an idea of your site’s page speed.
You’ll also have access to field data that outlines your first contentful paint (FCP) and first input delay (FID).
FCP is a metric that measures the time from navigation to a page, to the time when a browser renders the first bit of content.
FID, on the other hand, is a metric that measures the delay between the time a user can attempt to interact with a part of the site, and the time that the interface responds to the interaction.
You’ll also get information about which percentile your site shows up in for each metric.
Google also shows you lab data that includes:
- FCP, or first meaningful paint, which is when primary site content on a page is visible
- Speed index
- First CPU idle
- Time to interactive
- Max potential first input delay
You can learn more about each of these metrics by clicking the “learn more” link provided in your page speed test result.
Google’s website load test also provides you with opportunities to improve your page load time.
With each opportunity, it’ll also show you some estimated time savings that you might experience if you follow their suggestions.
Some opportunities for the site we tested include things like deferring off-screen images, serving images in next-gen formats, and enabling text compression.
Finally, you’ll be able to see a list of diagnostics that provide more information about your site’s speed.
To learn more about each element, you can click the drop-down arrow to the right of each suggestion.
These metrics go a long way in helping you decipher exactly why your site may not load as quickly as you’d like. The SEO advice provided is invaluable in improving your site speed.
Website testing tools to help you improve page load time
Check out some of our favorite website speed testing tools that can help you improve the load time of your sites.
1. Google’s PageSpeed Insights
It’s no secret that Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a great tool that we always make reference to. In the last section, we outlined all the incredible metrics you have access to when you use this tool, and how it can help you drastically improve your page speed.
Pingdom is another great page speed test to help you understand how your pages load. It takes a few seconds to get your report, and when you do, you can see metrics like a performance grade, page size, load time, number of requests, and more.
You can see:
- Specific grades on-site elements
- Status of response codes
- Content size by content type
- Requests by content type
- Content size by domain
- Requests by domain
WebPageTest.org is another website load test tool to see how your site is performing in terms of speed.
You’ll get performance results that range from load time and start render to the FCP and speed index. There are even some content breakdowns that outline requests and bytes, a waterfall of the first view, and screenshots of your homepage.
How to speed up your website
The starting point will be to audit your page to detect issues that can be resolved. The results can help you know what to do including cleaning up your site code, optimize your images, and host your videos on external sites.
So how can you boost your page speed? Take a look at these eight tips.
1. Choose a Fast Web Host
Your choice of web hosting is significant to achieve good website speed. There is probably not much you can do in terms of running a fast loading website if your web server is problematic and unable to deliver fast loading websites. So the starting point is to be sure you are running on a fast server.
1. Minimize HTTP requests
When your audience visits a page, your website takes time to load various elements like media and scripts. Each feature requires a request to load, and if you have an abundance of elements on the page, there will be more requests.
This means it will take your page longer to load and visitors might leave your site. However, you can limit the number of HTTP requests by streamlining and eliminating unnecessary site elements. More leads will remain on your site because they can access the information quicker, making both you and your audience happy.
2. Reduce server response time
Your page speed is affected by how quickly your pages load on your domain name system (DNS). A DNS is a server with a database of IP addresses and associated hostnames. With this database, the DNS translates a URL into an IP address.
If your DNS is slow, it will take time to translate the URLs. By using a faster DNS, you will improve your page load time and help visitors access information on your site faster.
To prevent this from affecting your page speed, you need to minify and combine files.
4. Host videos on an external site
Videos are a great addition to any digital marketing plan. When you incorporate videos on your site, you keep leads engaged longer and encourage them to remain on your site — a positive for your SEO rankings.
The issue arises when you have large video files since they can significantly slow down your site. Your audience will lose interest in your page before they even see the video because it will take too long to load.
You can prevent this by uploading your videos to external sites. For instance, instead of relying on your site to host the videos, you can use video hosts like YouTube or Wistia to host your video. You’ll just have to copy a snippet of code to embed the video onto your site.
By hosting your videos on external sites, you’ll help your site load quicker.
5. Reduce image file sizes
In addition to videos, you need to keep track of your image file sizes. You may use awesome, high-quality photos on your site, but it won’t matter if they take too long to load.
The best thing to do is compress your file sizes. Compressing the file size, when done correctly, won’t impact the photo’s quality. It will just create a smaller file size that loads more quickly.
This is extremely beneficial if your site is image-heavy. Images can contribute to positive user experience, but not if they take too long to load. By reducing the image size, you will help improve your site’s page speed.
6. Enable browser caching
If someone exits your site and decides to visit again, they have to wait for the information to load all over again. However, enabling browser caching can speed up your site’s load time.
Browser caching stores the information from your site if someone visited it previously. It won’t need to send another HTTP request to load your page. Instead, the information is stored in the cache to allow for easy loading the next time someone visits your page.
7. Use a content delivery network
When your site is on one server, each visitor must send an individual request to that server for the page to load. If you have hundreds of people trying to use your server at once, though, it can take forever for your pages to load.
The distance from your server matters, too. If you’re based in Harrisburg, your content may load quickly for those who live in Pennsylvania, but for people in California, it won’t load as quickly.
However, a content delivery network (CDN) fixes all these problems. When you use a CDN, your content is loaded based on the server closest to the person who accesses your site. This means that your site will load faster and more efficiently for your audience. It’s a great way to help deliver content to your audience quickly and efficiently.
Page speed deserves a lot of attention especially because of the weight it gets from Google as a ranking signal. When your website loads at a good speed, Google likes it and users are also happy with it. Good speed increases your website visitors' dwell time and can reduce your bounce rate so it deserves your attention to work towards the best achievable web page speed. Do you have some tips we may have missed, please share in the comments.