The Impact of Website Speed on SEO
Site Speed is a calculation of the time a site takes to load. The difference between site speed and page speed is that page speed is the load time of a specific page and site speed is the loading time of the entire website – although in most cases, many users may complain about website speed when they are really only facing problems on a specific page.
How Does Site Speed Impact SEO?
Google first declared that site speed would be a significant factor with search rankings back in 2010. This announcement officially made use of website speed as a ranking factor in Google search results. This announcement is thinking from a user’s perspective and how slow speed can adversely affect a user’s experience. Google also reported that one would not like to stay on a website with slower load time. As per their research, they would specifically take into account the duration of the first byte in terms of page speed. On the other hand, slow speed will lead to search engines crawling fewer pages affecting indexation.
Since Google did not disclose its search algorithm details, it may be challenging to ascertain the exact speed that affects SEO. Nevertheless, the user experience and the website’s usability are essential, especially on mobile phones.
That brings us to the question at hand. How do we increase the site speed?
The first step is to check the speed of your site before getting into its improvement. Google has a tool called Google PageSpeed Insights. It is pretty accurate and definitive to give you a run-through of your site in terms of its speed. This tool also suggests directions on improving speed if your site may need to catch up on speed.
PageSpeed Insights derives the Speed Score by integrating data from CRUX (Chrome User Experience Report) and reports of two criteria of speed which are DCL (DOMContentLoaded) and FCP (First Contentful Paint).
Enabling GZIP Compression
An essential tip to increase speed is enabling GZIP Compression. GZIP helps compress static files making them load faster.
However, we’d recommend not using GZIP for images. Instead, you may want to compress them on other programs like Photoshop to retain the image quality. Learn more about it in the next point.
If you’d resize your images, they will help catch up with speed in loading. Having images larger in size than they need to be impacts speed. It is also advisable to compress images suitable for the web and have them in the appropriate format. Usually, PNG files work better for graphics containing 16 colours, or fewer and JPEG is ideal for photographs.
You can apply CSS sprites in forming templates for images that you often use on your websites, such as icons and buttons. CSS sprites merge all your images and turn them into one big image, enabling them to load at one go. It will then show only the segments you want to showcase. This whole process saves load time and prevents users the wit time in loading several images.
Optimise your code by getting rid of unnecessary commas, spaces, and other characters and see a drastic increase in page speed. You can also take off formatting, code comments, and unused code. You can get help in doing the same from UglifyJS and CSSNano.
Redirecting is when a page sends a user to another page. It leads to the user encountering additional wait time in completing the HTTP request-to-response cycle. You may want to use redirects in only those places where it’s needed technically to avoid latency.
Try to avoid linking to a page with a redirect on it as it will lead to several more redirects frustrating the user. You could also clear out unused plugins as they lead to needless redirects. It’d be best to make a conscious effort to regularly scan your site identifying old redirects leading to pages no more in use. In WordPress, you could make use of the Redirection Plugin to get new redirects alerts and 404 errors.
How do you fix it? Follow these guidelines.
Enabling Browser Caching
It’d be best to use YSlow to determine your cache’s expiration date. YSlow is a tool that examines your page to help you learn why it is slow. By learning about the expiration date, you can reset the cache expiry for specific information. If you don’t change your site’s outline frequently, 12 months is ideal for retaining cache. Click here to learn more about browser caching.
Enhance Server Response Time
The factors that govern the server response time are site traffic, resources that every page uses, hosting solution, and what kind of software your server employs. You may want to look for performance hold-ups such as latent database queries, lack of sufficient memory, and lag in routing and rectify them if you’re going to boost the server response time. The ideal server response time should be below 200ms.
Using Content Distribution/Delivery Network
CDNs or Content Distribution Networks are server networks that you use to distribute or allocate the content delivery load. This process takes place by storing your site copies at several data centres. It results in users having more reliable and faster access whenever they want to visit your site.
Do you need help to improve website speed?
Before you start installing a ton of optimisation plugins on your WordPress website, it’s important to remember that making changes to your website’s code is a delicate process and if you do it wrong you can end up just slowing down your website even more or perhaps breaking the website entirely! When it comes to speeding up your WordPress website, you should always speak to a professional web design agency in Liverpool, like Blue Whale Media. We have a combined experience of over 40 years in dealing with WordPress web design, and we know all the best tips and tricks to boost your website loading speed.