Page speed is a critical component of SEO. Google wants to deliver the best possible experience to searchers. That includes sending users to web pages that load quickly, especially on smartphones. People don’t want to wait to get information, complete transactions, or buy things.
This article explains page speed, its importance, and how to measure it. Then we'll provide you with nine quick solutions you can use to improve your site’s page speed.
Page Speed: The Basics
Page speed is how quickly your content loads when someone visits a page on your site. Not to be confused with website speed, page speed is the loading time of a specific page, not the average across all of them on your website.
What Factors Impact Page Speed?
Many things affect how quickly a page loads. Some top ones include:
The number of images, videos, and other media files on the page
The theme used for the website
Plug-ins installed on the site
Coding and server-side scripts used on your website and the page
Why Is Page Speed Important?
Google research shows that when loading times increase from one to three seconds, the likelihood of a bounce (the visitor leaving right away) increases by 32 percent. If a page takes five seconds to load, the probability of a bounce rises by 90 percent.
Suppose the pages on your website don't load almost instantly. In that case, the chance that visitors will abandon your site increases significantly, sending bad signals to Google and other search engines, which will have a negative impact on your search rankings.
Page speed also matters because it has an impact on the perception of your brand. If your web pages take too long to load or anything goes wrong while loading, it can make your company seem unprofessional.
How to Measure Page Speed
Before making any changes to your site, you need to measure the performance of your pages.
Start with Google PageSpeed Insights. This tool offers an intuitive and simple way to measure and test the speed of your web pages on both desktop and — even more importantly — mobile devices (remember, Google’s ranking priority is mobile first). Plus, you can rest assured knowing it’s a Google-backed tool. It can help ensure you hit the benchmarks required to earn top placements on search engine results pages (SERPs).
It’s easy to use PageSpeed Insights. Copy the web page URL you want to test into the text field, and select the Analyze button.
PageSpeed Insights then analyzes the page's performance and scores it on a scale of zero to one hundred. It will also provide you with a list of suggestions on how you can improve page load times.
How to Improve Page Loading Speed
Here are nine simple and proven ways to make your pages load faster.
1. Switch to a Performance-Optimized Hosting Solution
Your hosting provider significantly influences your website’s overall performance and page load speed. It’s not worth saving money on your hosting service if it negatively impacts your site performance.
Many cost-effective services deliver speedy page load times. If you haven’t reviewed your options lately, it could be worthwhile.
2. Optimize Images
In today’s visual world, images are a great way to enhance your website visitor experience. However, they’re not effective if they slow your pages down. Big images can cause severe page load lags.
Compressing and optimizing your images is one of the easiest ways to improve page loading speeds. This can include changing their file formats to smaller ones like SVG or JPEG and reducing their size through lossy or lossless compression. You can do this using apps like tinypng.com, Attrock, or Squoosh.
When you reduce the size of your images, you reduce their weight, helping your pages load faster. You can automate the compression process by using a plugin on your site, such as WP Smush. If you use this type of plugin, it will automatically resize and compress your images without impacting their quality.
3. Reduce Redirects
Too many website redirects can negatively impact page load times. Whenever a page redirects, it extends the HTTP request and response process. Redirects are necessary for specific situations, such as moving to a new domain. However, eliminating unnecessary redirects on your site can result in much lower page loading times.
Use a tool such as Screaming Frog to identify all the redirects on your site. It will also show you what they point to. It will make it easier to find redirects that aren't necessary and eliminate them.
4. Cache Your Web Pages
Caching is one of the best ways to improve web page load times. This process stores copies of your site's files, reducing the time and effort needed for the server to generate and serve web pages to visitors. It requires fewer resources to load your pages.
There are several ways to cache your web pages. The easiest way is at the server level with your website host handling it. Another option is to use a plugin like W3 Total Cache.
5. Enable Browser Caching
There is a range of caching plugins you add to your site that will enable browser caching, speeding your website load times.
Synchronously means the files load one at a time in the order they appear on your web page. With this loading method, when the browser comes upon a script, it stops loading other page elements until the file associated with the script is fully loaded.
Asynchronously means several files can load at the same time. This can significantly improve page performance.
Remove unused CSS
Simply enable these three options and the plugin will allow asynchronous loading and other features that speed up pages.
Of course, combing through every line of code for your site's files isn't exactly efficient. Depending on the platform you built your website on, it’s likely there’s a plugin available that can minify your scripts and styles automatically. One example is Autoptimize.
8. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A content delivery network (often referred to as a content distribution network) is a series of servers that can help improve page loading speed. It can do this because it stores copies of your site's static content on servers worldwide. This speeds up the delivery of the content — and reduces page load time — across the globe.
A CDN works with your website host, not in place of it. Your host houses your primary website. A CDN houses copies of your site's files in data centers in different locations and deploys your site to visitors located nearby. Investing in a CDN service could significantly improve your page load time, paying off in improved visibility on SERPs, more website visitors, and improved sales.
9. Eliminate Unnecessary Plugins
Having too many plugins on your site will slow it down. Many older plugins and those that aren’t properly maintained can cause compatibility and other issues that can hinder performance.
It’s critical to limit the plugins on your site to those that enhance the visitor experience. Double-check that none of your plugins provide duplicative functionality. Competition between them could have a significantly negative impact on site speed. It’s also a best practice to regularly review the plug-ins on your site and disable or delete any you no longer use. A regular website cleanup can be a great way to find issues that could slow it down.
If you’re unsure which of your plugins is having the most significant impact on your site speed, turn them all off, then add them back one by one. Then test out your site. With a little due diligence, you’ll be able to identify your biggest time offenders. When you do, eliminate them or replace them with more efficient plugins.
Page Load Time and SEO — The Bottom Line
When it comes to search engine optimization, most businesses focus on content quality, website appearance, and intuitive navigation. However, Google also considers other factors when it assigns Google rankings. One of the most critical among these is how long it takes for pages to load. Make it a point to regularly monitor your page load times and quickly fix issues as they arise using the tips in this article. It will help you rank higher on search engine results pages.