Faster sites create happier users and wealthier businesses. Slower loading time not only drives away users, but may also have a negative impact on your SEO rankings.
Two Ways Site Speed Impacts SEO
First, site speed is a search signal that Google directly tracks. Slower loading sites may be penalized, however, Google says the site speed search signal only affects fewer than 1% of search queries. The second, and the biggest impact comes when your visitors bounce back because your page is taking a couple of extra seconds to load. Google may avoid sending users to a page that is generating a high bounce rate.
Site Speed and User Experience
Internet users have short attention spans and shorter temperaments for waiting. According to a study, as many as 40% of your visitors may leave your page if it’s taking more than 3 seconds to load. This can have a devastating effect on your revenue. The converse is also true. Amazon found out a few years ago that every 100MS increase in site speed delivered a 1% increase in revenue. So, whichever way you put it, site speed is critical for your Internet business growth. Let’s see how we can get your site up to speed.
How Fast is Fast Enough?
Ideally speaking, you should aim for a page loading time of less than 1 second in today’s high speed digital environment. But, if you must have heavier pages that take longer to load, you can try achieving a loading speed of 2-3 seconds. Here are the steps to take (hint: the rest of this article is quite techy and you may want to share it with your webmaster for implementation):
#1. Reduce the Number of HTTP Requests
Your page consists of different components, such as text, images, script, etc. An HTTP request is made to the server each time a particular component is to be downloaded and displayed. Hence, the more components you have, the higher the number of HTTP requests, and the slower the page speed. You can minimize the number of HTTP requests by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights and following the suggestions.
#2. Enable Compression Using GNU Gzip
High quality pages usually have rich content including script, video, and more. You cannot get rid of important elements just to speed up the page. In such situations, the best way to boost your page speed is to enable compression. It means that whenever your page makes an HTTP request, the server will compress or “zip” the related file before sending it across to the user’s computer or mobile. This can deliver a 70% speed boost, according to Yahoo! Developers. For cPanel hosting, you can enable compression from the Optimize Website option.
#3. Enable Browser Caching
When a user visits your page for the first time, every element on that page is downloaded from the server to the browser, which takes time. You can reduce this time for that user’s next visit if you enable browser caching. It means that certain components of your webpage that are not likely to change from day to day can be stored in the user’s browser. Hence, on their next and subsequent visits, the users will experience faster loading times, because some of the components will be served locally from their browsers’ memory. For WordPress sites, you can simply use a plugin such as W3Total Cache or WP Super Cache to enable browser caching.
#4. Always Buy Quality Hosting
Venture Beat reported around 70% higher site speed after they switched to a $29 per month hosting. It doesn’t mean you always need to buy expensive hosting, but you must do your homework before you buy hosting. Tweaking your page structure and elements may be useless if your hosting company lets you down. Some of the things to check and compare are the actual uptimes, server speeds, and customer support.
#5. Use a Content Delivery Network
If you audience is spread all over the globe, hosting your site at one particular geo-location may keep your users at the other end of the world waiting longer for your site to load. In such cases, you should use a CDN or content delivery network. A CDN hosts your static content close to your target audience and serves the dynamic content from a central location. This can as much as double your site speed.
To conclude, remember that the site speed won’t directly affect your visibility in Google unless your site is terribly slow. Continually trying to achieve higher speeds will continue to improve your users’ experience and THAT will increase conversions!