Site speed is a highly influential factor for on-page SEO, without it your website’s performance and your business are guaranteed to be impacted by it. Users on the SERP want to be able to get their results as quickly as possible and if they don’t receive the speed and efficiency that they expect, they aren’t likely to stay on your webpage for long. If you want to ensure that your website’s speed is up to scratch or give your site a well needed boost then website speed optimisation can help you to achieve that.
In this guide you’ll find everything you need to know about site speed, what are the factors that influence it and all the best practices and techniques for website speed optimisation in 2019.
What is Site Speed?
Site speed refers to the time in which it takes for your webpage and any additional content that is on the page to load when someone manually types your URL into the address bar or clicks your result in the SERP. Site speed determines the time it takes for this request to be received from the host and the website to display on the browser of the person who has requested that particular result or web page.
Why is Site Speed Important?
We live in a world where people are urgently looking for the right information to satisfy their search queries. Although it may not seem like much, just a few seconds could affect whether people decide to stay on your website or navigate away from your site. As the longer it takes for your page to load, the higher the likelihood is that the user will be tempted to find another website that delivers the information quicker, which can be detrimental to the SEO of your site.
In addition to negatively impacting the optimisation of your website site speed can also affect the following areas of your business if not up to speed.
If you’re providing goods and services on your website, then site speed can be a huge factor in helping you to make sales. You want to provide your users with the ability to have a smooth and swift look around your website at the products and services that you offer. If your site speed isn’t up to scratch, for instance, if the photos and pages on your site take a while to load, this will ultimately deter people from purchasing your products as your page speed hinders their browsing.
Whatever your website provides users with, whether it’s information, products or services, ultimately you want a high level of website conversion. What this means is that you wish to the user visiting your site to complete the desired action, such as making a purchase, subscription to your newsletter or your content or even just sharing your content on social media. Poor site speed will affect the conversions on your website as it will hinder the process by taking more time than is necessary to complete the conversion. Users want to be able to complete actions on your site quickly and efficiently, and without that, they won’t convert on your site.
If you cannot provide the users visiting your website with the user experience that they expect from a page because your site, page, content or resources takes too long to load, then you’ll find that there becomes an increase in your bounce rate.
Just in case you are unfamiliar with the terms, bounce rate refers to users on your website only view one page of your site before navigating away from your website entirely. Bounce rate is one of the ranking factors in which Google monitors which will affect where your page appears in the SERP.
A high bounce rate tells Google that either your website didn’t provide a good enough user experience of the page or that the information on the page wasn’t relevant or what the user was searching for with the search query. Therefore, Google will rank these pages lower than other results on the SERP that have high bounce rates for that keyword.
What is a Good Site Speed?
What an excellent site speed is will vary depending on which site speed or audit checking tool you use to check your site speed, however for this example we’ll use Google’s own PageSpeed Insights tool as an example.
For the most part, when checking the speed of your site, you’ll find that you will be given a score or a ‘performance’ depending on how quickly the site takes to load for the tool on desktop and mobile devices. Google’s PageSpeed Insights data is collected by the Lighthouse tool and categorises site speed into the following three categories:
- Fast: 90 - 100
- Average: 50 - 89
- Slow: 0 - 49
According to the PageSpeed Insights speed score, you should be aiming for a score on both desktop and mobile of 90-100 or as close as you can get to that figure. Although it isn’t imperative for you to have a perfect score, it is important for your site to load swiftly, as this will affect your page’s performance in the SERPs.
Is Site Speed a Ranking Factor for Google?
Yes, Google has indicated that site speed and page speeds are ranking factors and signals for their algorithm. This is because both site and page speed affect the time in which it takes a search engine crawler to crawl and index the pages on your website, meaning that you may find that not all of your pages get indexed and if your pages aren’t indexed then they won’t appear in Google.
What affects Site Speed?
Now that you understand how crucial site speed is for ensuring that your website has a good performance in search engines, you’re probably wondering what factors have the power to influence site speed and how you prevent them from affecting your overall site speed. Here are a few of the main factors that could possibly be negatively impacting your site speed.
Your site speed can be affected if your website is hosted on a poor hosting website then you’ll find that your site speed will suffer. Instead of compromising your site speed for the sake of cheap website hosting, ensure that you always acquire high-quality web hosting for each and every one of your websites.
Number of Plugins
Although helpful and convenient for helping you to manage your website, undoubtedly the number of plugins that you have on will harm your site speed. So, if your site has a lot of plugins and widgets, then you may want to consider removing any that aren’t strictly essential for you to have.
Number of Ads
Another thing that is helpful for your website but unfortunately will affect your site speed is the number of advertisements that are on your site. Pop-ups, banners and slow loading advertisements on sites have a severely adverse effect on your website not only because of the way they slow down websites, but also because they affect the bounce rate and user experience of the website. Instead, try to limit ads on your site, ensuring that they load quickly, aren’t pop-ups and don’t obscure any of the content on your site.
Amount of High-Quality Multimedia
Although high-quality images, videos and resources look amazing on websites, they can cause your site speed to slow down, this is because higher quality images and multimedia generally take longer to load than low or normal quality images. Instead, you want to ensure a happy medium between the quality of the multimedia on your website and your site speed by compromising on high-quality images. Instead, try to limit high-quality resources or instead lower the quality of the photos and videos on your site.
How to Improve your Website for Better Speed Optimisation
Try to use less high-quality images
This can be a hard thing to let go of, but it will help you improve your site speed significantly, you either have to lower the quality of the image by reducing the resolution of the pictures or alternatively, if you still want high-quality photos on your website, you should limit the number of pictures on your site.
Try to use only essential plugins
Plugins may seem helpful, but if they’re doing damage to the optimisation of your site speed, then you should reconsider using them and get rid of all of your plugins that aren’t essential. If there are one or two widgets or plugins that you absolutely can’t live without them being on your website, then that’s fine, but if you have a plugin for everything, then you may want to consider how much damage that’s doing to your website.
Get a better website host
A poor website host is a sure way to find yourself with slow site speed. Instead of compromising on price and getting a sharing host, you should ensure that your website is hosted by high-quality web hosts such as a VPS or a dedicated server.
How do I check my Site Speed?
You can check the speed of your site in many different ways, either by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool or alternatively using another site speed checker. If you’re interested in checking your site speed as well as other factors on your site which could be negatively impacting the SEO of your website, you can use our free SEO checker. Our SEO Checker will provide you with a comprehensive audit of your site, detailing the performance of your website.