How important is website page speed for SEO?

Page speed can easily be overlooked by web developers and website owners, but it’s the first thing your visitors notice. Not only are fast page speeds crucial to keeping customers and visitors happy, but they also help you rank better in search results too.

Why it matters for visitors

Page speed is seriously important to the visitors of your website. Just think of your own experiences and frustratingly slow websites that you’ve come across. Approximately 80 percent of shoppers say that they simply won’t return to a website if it loads too slowly during their first visit. A snappier website improves customer experience and the view of your company in more ways than one, all of which help improve search engine optimization (SEO) and conversions.

Why it matters for Google

Google has been pushing for quicker load times since 2010 when they first announced the inclusion of load time into their growing collection of ranking factors, and other search engines have followed in their footsteps. Google saw how important speed was becoming for their users, especially as Internet bandwidth had begun to make several leaps, so this needed to become a priority. Having a faster page speed is not only rewarded by ranking algorithms but is becoming necessary to make it near the top of search results. Mobile search is the new web priority, and after Google addressed the importance of load times in mobile recently and even launched their AMP program to help address this issue, it’s more important than ever. Page speed can impact your e-commerce SEO efforts as well. When pages take too much time to load it can cause your target customers to bounce off your website.

What Slows Down Page Speed?

The problem with page speed is that there are so many factors that can affect it. Determining the specific factors that are first slowing down your website and then how to optimize the rest of your material can be an extended process, but one with proven results.

Here’s a list of just some examples of things that may be hindering your website with poor load times:

  • Large images – Higher resolution images can look nice, but require much more data than you expect and slow down your site.
  • Advertisements – Unoptimized ads or too many of them can slow down your website.
  • Slow hosting service – It’s possible your hosting service is slowing down your page speed, and that changing it all together is a smart option.
  • Embedded media – Including video on your host directly is quicker than loading it from an outside source, but like images, video can contribute to slowdowns as well.
  • Unoptimized or outdated apps and plugins – It’s possible for a single plugin to have a dramatic effect on page speed. Adobe Flash is an example of a very common plugin that has resulted in negative impacts on many websites.
  • Unoptimized coding – Your website’s code is its basic structure. Newer, cleaner coded websites usually perform better in this regard than outdated sites that have not been optimized.
  • Site theme – Your theme and overall design will affect loading times. The more complicated this theme, the greater the decrease in page speed.
  • Widgets and third party integrations – complex themes and widgets may make your website appear more impressive, but their dense code can decrease page speed.

How to Check Page Speed & What to Do About it

While checking your website from various computers and mobile devices can give you a good idea of the “real world” feel of your site, consulting actual data is required to see how much progress you’re making while trying to speed things up. There are several tools available to do this, a few examples being Pingdom Website Speed TestWeb Page Test, and OnCrawl. These tools can analyze your site and provide detailed information regarding page speed from both the desktop and mobile index perspectives.

There can be a multitude of fixes to the list of possible problems above and finding the right one for each issue can take a lot of work. However, some of these tools can also offer suggestions to optimisation for your website overall. Google also offers a free service called PageSpeed Insights as a module that integrates with either an Apache or Nginx web server and claims to optimise your page speed automatically.

If you need someone to help you optimise your website and improve page speeds, we can optimise your website and guarantee that it will always be online, always be cached and always Load within 3 seconds. Give us a shout!

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