What Is SEO? – Page Load Speed

 

Why Should You Improve Your Page Load Speed?

 

Google use your page load speed as a strong filter through which your site will either pass or not. If your website takes too long to load, you will NOT appear in Google SERPs.

 

Test Your Website Load Speed here.

 

Google want to present results that their users can easily and quickly access. If they gave you a result that took ages to open, what would you do? In all likelihood, you would hit the back button, and select a different result. If Google’s page was full of slow loading pages, you might very well lose patience completely and start using a different search engine.

 

Factors That Slow Your Site Down

 

There are several factors that directly affect the loading speed of your site pages. Dynamic content such as video and Flash is quite bulky and will directly affect the speed of your page load. Understanding how a browser asks for your content is an important part of speeding your site up.

 

When someone views your page, every line of code needs to be read on your page to be able to produce it on that persons PC, laptop, tablet or phone. Every element of each page; images, videos, page text, style sheets etc. need to be requested from your server. Every single one of those requests takes time to complete and will add to your load time.

 

To gauge the effect of some of the content on your page, use Yslow to time your existing page, then remove a piece of content and test the page again. It is best to check each page 6 times and average the results as this will allow for any minor load discrepancies on your internet connection.

 

Try removing Analytics or Statcounter code to see the difference as these are significant pieces of code.

 

Many sites end up using multiple style sheets, created over time as the site has evolved (or in some cases because the design platform creates them as standard). From a design point of view, this is not critical, but from an SEO view point, why make three server requests for three style sheets when the job could be done with one sheet.

 

One large file will download faster than the same data will in three files.

 

We have built a site that will load a 900 k page faster than a competitor site with only 150k of data will load. What this means is that we can include far more information than the competitor can without being any slower. Which site is more likely to get it’s message across successfully?

 

Remember: Each server request that your page makes will slow your loading time. Aim to reduce your page code as much as possible and to simplify it wherever possible. This will also aid your Google Site Score.

 

For your website to function efficiently, you want to start with well constructed pages, this will allow you to add all the content that you desire so you can convey your message effectively to your web visitors.

 

There are several ways to speed up a website page load speed;

 

GZip compression

Minifying CSS

Minifying HTML

Compressing Images

Eliminating Render Blocking in ‘Above the Fold’ Content

Reducing Server Response Time

Browser Caching

Image Sprites

 

How Fast is Fast Enough?

 

Google specify that in order to avoid any load speed penalties, your site needs to load in the top 20th percentile. Translated from Googlespeak this means that you need your site to load as fast as the fastest 20% of websites…. or….. to put it another way, your website needs to load faster than 80% of the slowest sites.

 

This is intentionally a moving goalpost, rather than saying “Your site needs to load within 1 second, or 1/2 a second”, they have cleverly allowed for the internet to get faster over time.

 

As more and more web designers improve the load speed for their sites, the average time for the top 20th percentile will get faster.

 

The situation exists whereby your site could fall within the top 20% now, but in a few months time, if your competitors work on improving their load times, you could find yourself being penalised, as by comparison with them, your site will have slowed down.

 

The important point is to be aware of your load speed and the elements on your website that affect it.

 

Further Info:

How To Make Your Site Load Faster

How To Speed Up WordPress

Why You Don’t Rank in Google