One of the most important aspects of SEO is the speed of your website. It goes hand in hand with your website’s content.
While your content is important for driving organic traffic to your site, the speed of your site ensures that visitors remain on your website to view them.
If your website takes a long time to load you will see your audience bounce off to another site.
Slower websites can only offer a bad user experience.
Doesn’t matter how unique and insightful your content is, you won’t get any traffic if your site takes an eternity to load. This is why site optimization is as important as content optimization.
But many SEOs and website owners often overlook page speed.
If you are just starting out you might think that you have created a niche site with engaging content that looks beautiful. Everything seems perfect apart from your site speed.
But it shouldn’t matter, right? After all, you’ve spent so much time designing your website and creating compelling content that a few seconds of delay shouldn’t bother your consumers.
This is where you lose your customer.
Your audience won’t be okay to wait a couple of seconds more to let your site load properly. How would they know you have written the greatest article if your site takes an eternity to load?
Page speed is a very important Google ranking factor. So much so that Google has created PageSpeed Insight for content creators to analyze and improve their site speed.
It doesn’t matter how much effort and money you put into perfecting your SEO strategy, if you don’t pay close attention to improve your page speed it won’t be fruitful.
Why Speed Is Important For Your Website?
The speed of your website may have a significant influence on the user experience. Your page speed, in addition to your content, has a significant impact on your SERPs ranking.
If you want your content to rank high on Google SERPs, you must ensure a good user experience. Because if there’s one thing we know for certain about Google, it prioritizes user experience over anything else.
Google wants its users to have a great search experience. And the best way to do this is by providing the best search results based on the relevancy and authority of websites.
In this day and age of “Right Swipe,” human attention spans have now fallen below that of a goldfish.
People don’t want to stick around for long, whether it’s a tinder date or a slow-loading website. So unless you can get your slow loading site fixed, don’t expect much organic traffic coming your way.
A one-second delay in page loading time can result in:
- 24% Lesser page views
- 16% Drop in customer satisfaction
- 7% Fewer Conversions
- 13% Increase in bounce rate
You may use appealing headlines to entice your target audience, but you’ll only have a few seconds to persuade them to stay on your website after they click on your link.
They’ll be looking for an alternative faster than flash if they see the loading spinner going on for more than 2 seconds.
Every additional second your site takes to load will have a negative impact on your ability to engage visitors and make sales.
And if this is not enough to change your thoughts on page speed…Google has started to demote slower websites by pushing them down in the SERPs.
So if you want to rank high in the SERPs and increase conversions, you must make your website load quickly.
Why Mobile Speed Matters In SEO
Information technology has come a long way in the last 20 years. The transition from desktop computers to pocket-sized smartphones constituted a paradigm shift.
You can have all the information you need on the go. Smartphones are no longer just your communication tool. There is so much you can do with a smartphone.
The fact that we can make Google search instantly, says a lot about how we have adapted to this change and becoming more and more dependent on it.
Smartphones have become more widely available and accessible to people, even in the most distant locations.
And it’s not just everyday users who have embraced this mobile-first approach. Multibillion-dollar companies are reshaping their business models to include a mobile-first experience.
Google was one of several companies to embrace a mobile-first strategy.
The number of mobile searches in the United States alone was 177.8 million back in 2016. Mobile and desktop searches were largely neck and neck until mid-2018. The number of mobile searches was rising steadily.
However, by the beginning of 2020, the number of mobile searches has seen a staggering growth of almost 211 million.
Google has analyzed the search trend and decided to switch to mobile-first indexing back in 2019. This means sites that perform better on mobile devices will get more priority in search results.
Because the majority of Google Search users now use a mobile device, optimizing your website for mobile searchers has become critical to success.
Here are a few statistics that might shed some light on the importance of mobile search:
- 30% of mobile searches are location-based.
- 75% of smartphone owners use Google Search on mobile for instant needs
- 88% of searchers who use local search visit a related store within a week
- “Near me” mobile searches grew 136%
- Google process 3.5 billion searches per day
- 46 percent of product searches begin on Google
If your site is taking more than 3 seconds on mobile devices something needs to be done.
Users expect websites to load in two seconds or less. Websites that take more than 3 seconds to load can see a bounce rate of 40 percent. This can negatively affect any online business.
Especially, if you are running an e-commerce or selling some sort of products or services on your site, every additional 100ms load time can cause a 4.42% drop in conversion rates.
After Google announced mobile-first indexing, mobile site’s speed became more important than ever.
A fast mobile website doesn’t just provide a better user experience for mobile users, it also ranks high on SERPs. And ranking high is essential to increase your visibility online.
How Site Speed Influence Conversion
Websites that take too much time to load usually have bad conversion rates. Your site speeds heavily influence your conversion and page views.
A faster website will have a low bounce rate and high organic CTR.
When it comes to a good user experience, your website speed is fundamental. The more quickly your webpage loads, the greater chance you have of conversion.
Users with informational and transactional intent usually want to find answers to their search query without a delay. So understandably speed is a major concern for these users.
A recent study in consumer behavior shows that nearly 43% of shoppers expect websites to load in less than 2 seconds. And if a site takes more than 3 seconds to load, 40% of users will bounce off and go to the next site.
Here is how Google perceive page speed:
- Less than 1 second = perfect
- 1-3 seconds = above average
- 3-7 seconds = average
- 7+ seconds = very poor
If your website is taking more than 3 seconds to load, you are already losing half of your revenue because of 70% less conversion. You’re losing revenue, leads, and, most importantly, new clients.
Many website owners don’t even realize the amount of revenue and customers they are losing. Eventually, when Google analyzes your site and sees a high bounce rate it will automatically demote and push your website down the search result.
As you move down the search results page, your online visibility decreases, resulting in fewer clicks.
And for those who decide to stay, your sluggish load times may discourage them from returning in the future so you will lose brand value and won’t be able to acquire returning customers.
According to a recent poll, over 73 percent of online shoppers would not return to a site that performed poorly or had broken pages.
This same poll also suggested that nearly 41% of users would share their bad user experience with friends or online, and 52% of consumers indicated that fast page loading is a deciding factor to their site loyalty.
How Website Speed Influences Visibility
We have already discussed this over and over again. Your search ranking is reliant on your website speed. As page speed has become a direct ranking factor, it also can influence how easily users can find your content in the first place.
As Google rolled out the mobile-first index in mid-2019, it has become more clearer that Google prefers websites that are optimized for mobile devices. With the mobile-first index, Google has started ranking all search results based on the mobile versions of pages.
As the number of mobile searches continues to grow in a staggering manner, it is in Google’s best interest to tailor its search results to prioritize mobile users.
Mobile users prefer not to wait long for a website to load since they are seeking immediate information or to make a purchase. This is why Google favors sites that are mobile-friendly and load quickly. Sites that rank on top of SERPs are usually responsive and loads within 2 seconds.
User experience has always been a ranking factor, although it has previously solely considered desktop experience. Even if a site’s mobile experience was bad, it still had a chance to rank on page one.
This isn’t the case anymore.
After Google rolled out mobile-first indexing, pages are now indexed and ranked in SERPs depending on the relevancy, authority, and mobile experience of a website.
But how does your page speed affect your online visibility?
It’s actually rather simple…slower websites are generally relegated to the bottom of the search results. The lower your content ranks in search engine results pages, the less visible it is to users.
So if you want to improve SERPs ranking and increase visibility, there is no alternative to page speed. You need to ensure your website offers a quick and easy user experience regardless of any browser or screen size.
How To Increase Website Speed
Improving your page speed is a lot easier than you might think. Simple on-page optimization can help you improve your website speed by 70%.
You don’t need any technical knowledge to speed up your website. YOu can just follow these instructions and get your website ready for mobile users.
Improving your page speed will have a positive impact on your overall SEO and drive more organic traffic to your site. Apart from improving your SERPs position, you can also increase conversion and keep your website visitors engaged.
The best part about speeding up your site is you won’t have to spend a dime to rip these benefits. All you will need is the right combination of SEO tools and plugins to get you started.
1. Analyze Your Website Speed
Before we start optimizing our pages, we need to figure out what is causing our website to slow down and how our website is currently performing. Your site can take longer to load depending on many components of your page.
The first step is to analyze individual pages and fix each component one by one. There are some amazing website speed checkers that analyzes the content and provide suggestions based on the report to make a page load faster.
Here are our favorite website speed testing tools that have helped us improve our page speed:
- PageSpeed Insight
- Pingdom Tools
If you are looking to optimize your content for Google you need to analyze your web pages using PageSpeed Insights tools. It does detailed performance testing and provides pointers for areas that need improvements.
GTMetrix and Pingdom also provide similar kinds of on-page optimization reports. They also help with solutions apart from figuring out the problems.
Make a list of the components of your pages that need to be improved. If your page appears to be functioning identically in all of these tools, there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
You will see some common terms in all these tools and there will be suggestions for improving website speed. Go through all the suggestions and fix the ones that are really affecting your page speed.
These reports do not necessarily reflect how your website performs in the real world. This is something to keep in mind while optimizing your website. You should strive for a higher page speed rather than a perfect score in these tools.
2. Install A Caching Plugin (Enable Browser HTTP Caching)
Yesss… a caching plugin is a must when you are running a website. Enabling your browser HTTP caching can drastically change how your website performs and loads.
The technical side of caching might be complex but the general idea is simple.
Every time you click on a webpage, the browser sends a request to the server. The server then has to retrieve all the media files, content, generate the header and footer, etc.
This entire back-and-forth process might take a long time and put a load on your server.
However, if browser HTTP caching is enabled on a website, the server may receive information in the blink of an eye and provide it to web browsers.
Once you visit a website, the static files of that site remain on your machine for a while. No matter how fast your Internet connection is, getting files from your hard drive will always be faster than retrieving them from a remote server.
In simple terms, caching creates the copy of the requested website which helps the browser load that website faster.
Caching can make your website load extremely fast, which leads to better SEO scores, higher conversion, an increase in SERPs ranking, and most importantly better user experience.
To enable browser HTTP caching, use the WP Rocket or W3 Total Cache plugins. We’ve been using WP Rocket for a while now, and the experience has been fantastic!
3. Optimize Your Images
It is usually our large unoptimized images that bloat our website and is responsible for slower page speed. People like to see visuals rather than words crammed up in a white background.
This is why we have images between a large body of text to make it easier and soothing for our users. Chunking a large text with an image has been a common practice among bloggers.
But having too many images can slow down your website, especially when they are unoptimized.
Image optimization has become a key component of on-page SEO. Ensuring high-quality images in the right format, dimension, size, and resolution while keeping the smallest possible size can make your website load pretty fast.
You can either manually optimize your images or use a plugin to do that for you.
The best way to compress an image manually is by using photoshop. You can get the right dimension, size and most importantly reduce the file size while maintaining the quality. With photoshop you can choose from different image formats.
Google usually recommends next-gen image formats like WebP or AVIF which provide better image compression. But if you can’t get it on your site, you can simply use JPEG. (PNG files aren’t very compressible)
You can also use plugins to do the compression within your site. Here are some image compression plugins that we would recommend:
- EWWW Image Optimizer
The best part about these image compression plugins is that you can bulk optimize images that already exist on your website. You can use any of these plugins to start optimizing your images.
BTW our personal favorite is Smush.
4. Enable LazyLoad
Lazy loading all media files allow your website to only load images when a user scrolls down to a specific image. It replaces all other images with a placeholder image or blank space.
This may significantly reduce the time it takes for a website to load and enhance its performance.
Most websites that rank high on search engines usually have lazy loading enabled. This provides a better user experience by improving page speed without breaking the page.
Most search engines including Google usually recommends sites to use lazy loading. There are a lot of plugins available to enable lazy loading on your site.
You may simply use wp-rocket, which can assist you with caching and enable lazy loading on your site. Other plugins may cause your images to break or create a buffer on your site.
However, wp-rocket is compatible with the rest of the other plugins and works excellent for lazy loading.
5. Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
yes, yes, yes, this is technically not an on-page optimization technique. But CDN is probably one of the core components in increasing website speed.
A content delivery network, CDN is a network of servers located throughout the world that are used to deliver content from your website or mobile application to people more quickly and efficiently, based on their geographic location.
CDNs transfer content closer to the user to minimize latency and improve the user experience. It ensures users the best experience on a website by loading the content at a lightning-fast speed.
You can use Cloudflare CDN which comes with other additional features. You can also integrate your Cloudflare account with wp-rocket.