While keyword placement springs to mind when conducting on-page optimisation, an often overlooked but a crucial factor is page speed optimisation. In reality, page speed and SEO come hand in hand,
According to Google, 53% of users will abandon a page if the load time exceeds three seconds. Neil Patel’s research shows that if your page takes 10 seconds to load, users are 120% more likely to exit your site before it even loads. Just to put that into perspective, here are five things you could do in 10 seconds:
- Peel a bulb of garlic
- Open a bottle of wine
- Deseed a pomegranate
So how does page speed affect SEO?
Not only do slow webpages affect User Experience (UX), but Google ranking also takes page speeds into account. It’s worth noting that page speed is relative and often relies on factors outside of your control, such as the user’s internet connection or the device being used. But, there are generally always things that can be done to give your site the best chance of quick loading time.
But why does it matter?
Even if your content is of superb quality and beautifully optimised, it’s futile if users check out before the page even loads. When you’re searching the web and you stumble across a page that keeps you waiting, what do you do? Unless you have all the time in the world (which I’m guessing you don’t), you click ‘back’. You’re trying to solve a problem or find an answer and you don’t have the time or patience to hang around for a slow webpage when there are millions of others to choose from on the SERPs. Google takes your page speed into account in its own merit and also recognises if your exit rate is high. It then penalises you accordingly, so your page ranking suffers the consequences of having poor UX.
Additionally, and more worryingly for some, slow page speed can have devastating effects on eCommerce. According to research by Amazon, if their page speed slowed down by just a second, it could cost them a staggering $1.6bn in sales per year. Simply put, slow site speed can directly affect your sales
How to improve site speed
First, you need to ascertain the scale of the issue. Using the Google PageSpeed Insights tool, check the existing speed of your site or a particular page. A good benchmark to aim towards is two seconds. If your page speed isn’t looking good, here are some steps you can take towards a speedier site.
Reduce image sizes
Images are an important part of creating engaging content, but the higher the resolution, the longer the page loading speed. Don’t worry, you don’t need to swap high resolution for quick loading time. You can still use high-resolution images – they’re just often higher than they need to be, especially if you found them on a stock image platform such as Shutterstock. Before uploading an image to your site’s media library, check the size and compress as appropriate. If you’re not sure what you should be aiming for or you’re short on time, you can install plugins on WordPress which optimise and compress your images once you’ve uploaded them.
Clean up your HTML
If you’re not a developer, HTML can be a little overwhelming but it’s a world you’ll need to bravely enter if you want to improve your site speed. Instead of using the visual editor on your CMS, start using the text editor instead. You’ll quickly learn what the code means and where it belongs so that when you notice an unnecessary piece of HTML, you can quickly cull it so that your site isn’t loading functionless characters.
Put Key Content Above The Fold
Prioritising the main content to appear above the fold (before the user needs to scroll down), means the most important information is being loaded first. While you can visually place the content in the first half of your page, you might also want to discuss this with your development team to ensure your CSS supports this strategy in the most efficient way.
Improve Your Hosting
Making small changes to your hosting can make a world of difference when it comes to your page loading speed. It’s important to consider the sort of traffic you expect and how you anticipate it growing when you are making this decision. The more complex your website, the more users access your site, the more load it creates on your server and a server is just like any computer, the more RAM it has, the faster the processor, the bigger and faster the drive it uses, the better it performs, We recommend you go for the best hosting you can afford but here’s a really good guide on choosing a hosting provider.
Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) on top of good hosting should make your site even faster and more secure. CDN servers are distributed across the globe with multiple copies of the same data and a cache of static content, including script files, CSS, images, etc. Because this data is stored in multiple geographic locations, site visitors can use a nearby CDN server to experience a faster site speed, rather than waiting for a faraway CDN to deliver. We often use Cloudflare for this, to help with page speed optimisation.