SEO: Is Your Page Speed Slowing You Down?

If you’re old enough to remember the days of dial-up internet, then waiting for a webpage to load is nothing new to you. But those days are quickly becoming a distant memory and today’s internet users expect to be delivered content immediately after clicking a link. Recent studies have shown that 9.6% of visitors bounce after waiting two seconds and over 32% after hitting the seven-second mark.

Today we’ll be looking at how page speed affects both your search engine optimization and your user experience. But before we dive into any technical details, let’s start with a simple definition. Page speed measures the time it takes for a user’s browser to fully display the content from a specific page on a specific site. There are other definitions out there, but this one will work for our purposes.

Why Does Page Speed Matter?

Sometimes you can pick and choose what SEO tactics you want to use for your website but optimizing your page speed should be a priority for every business. This is because page speed can greatly affect two areas of your business: SEO and user experience.

First, page speed has a direct impact on your search engine optimization. Google and the other search engines use page speed as a ranking factor because a quick loading site is the sign of a well-built site. As you improve your page speed, it will have an impact on your rankings – it’s as simple as that.

Second, page speed affects your visitors’ user experience. We’ve already mentioned the stats around page speed and bounce rates – but they are worth repeating. A mere two-second delay will cause almost 10% of your visitors to leave unfulfilled – that is going to affect your bottom line! What’s more, suffering from high bounce rates will negatively affect your SEO – making a slow loading page a compounding problem.

Practical Ways to Improve Page Speed

When we’re talking about improving page speed there is good news and bad news. The good news is that improving your page speed can be a quick way to boost your rankings. The bad news is that most of the fixes require some level of technical knowledge.

We’ll run through a few practical ways you can improve your page speed that either you or your web designer can handle without too much work.

Optimized Images

Oversized images can really slow down your load speeds. While your graphic designer might insist on the highest quality pictures, your website doesn’t need print-quality images to look professional. If you have experience with a photo editing software like Photoshop, you can resize your images there – otherwise a simple (and free) online service like TinyPNG will help you get down to manageable image sizes.

Write Good Code

Poorly written code will include unnecessary and redundant sections – and that will noticeably slow down your load speed. If you’re not technically proficient, there isn’t much you can do about poorly written code. So, our biggest piece of advice is to always hire a reputable web design agency.

Use High-Quality Hosting

A slow response time from your server can add precious seconds to your page speed. There are several reasons for a slow server response time, but low-quality hosting is a common (and easy to fix) culprit. Budget hosting solutions put your website on a shared server where you are competing with other websites for server resources. If your hosting is holding you back, consider upgrading to VPS, cloud, or dedicated hosting.

Use Browser Caching

Most visitors don’t need to reload every element on your page every time they visit. This is accomplished through browser caching. Google recommends a minimum cache time of one week and preferably up to one year. Unless your site changes regularly, one year should be a good length of time to direct browsers to cache your site.

Minimize Redirects

Sometimes you have to use a redirect to ensure that your site is functioning properly, but too many redirects and you’ll kill your page speed. Minimizing redirects means two things. First, you only use redirects when they are necessary for the overall health of your website. And second, you should always avoid redirect chains – go directly from the landing page to the redirected page without any unnecessary steps between.

Minify Your Code

Our final suggestion is to minify your CSS, JavaScript, and HTML. Minification is the process of removing unnecessary data from your code in a way that does not affect the way your website is displayed. Line breaks, comments, spaces, and other marks make code easier for a human to work with, but they are not needed to render your page. By removing these extra pieces, you can reduce your code size by 20-30%. Google has a list of recommended resources for minifying your code here.

Page Speed and SEO

These aren’t all easy fixes if you don’t have any web design or development experience, but they also don’t require extensive technical knowledge. If you are wading into the world of SEO for your business, you can tackle the issue of page speed without too much difficulty.

Or, if you’re too busy to tackle these problems on your own, consider hiring an SEO agency to audit and optimize your website for any potential page speed issues. Here at Fusion Group USA, we offer a wide range of SEO options for businesses of every size – contact us today to learn more.

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