Consumers these days are demanding more content, faster and easier than ever before. As the years pass, and technology develops, so does the internet and the user’s demand. It’s 2017 and AI is already replacing some of our jobs, so why can’t this website just load faster? We’re the impatient millennial age and we expect things to happen quickly, or we lose interest. Businesses and marketers who can master the art of fast page speeds will reap the benefits, so what is page speed and how can you master it?
What is Page Speed?
It’s pretty self-explanatory, but for those technically minded, page speed refers to how quickly a page of content fully loads, or, measures the “time to first byte” which is how quickly your browser loads the first byte of information. How fast a page loads will result in higher rankings and conversion rates, so it’s important to focus on improving your own site’s speed.
Does Page Speed Affect SEO?
The short answer: yes. Back in 2010, Google announced that page speed would now be a signal used by its algorithms to rank your website. It wants to be able to provide its users with the best experience possible, therefore a fast and responsive site is going to be much more favourable than a slow one. A user experiencing a positive online journey is more likely to stay on your website and explore it too, so it’s beneficial to invest in page speed, especially if you’re a large e-commerce website as it is likely to directly affect conversion rates.
Page speed isn’t the only signal Google uses to rank its search engine results, as it looks at a number of factors, so don’t expect a huge jump in rankings for having a speedier site. As we know, Google focuses heavily on onsite content rather than the speed, with fewer than 1% of search queries being affected by page speed.
However, you may see some improvements, but nothing dramatic enough to make it your main priority. As long as your site isn’t slow, Google won’t penalise you. In 2010, Google announced that only 1% of websites received penalties for having a slow site, so being slow will have more damage to your site.
What About Mobile?
With the recent announcements of Google shifting to a mobile-first index thanks to the majority of users now using mobile devices, mobile page speed is also a game changer. There are a number of reasons why fast mobile page speed is important, as users want instant reviews of hotels, to shop online quickly, and get their answers faster. A website with friction is a website that isn’t going to be successful. Google has just released data showing that, overall, half of web traffic comes from a mobile device, but the conversion was a lot lower than desktop, which means you’ll need to be quick to keep them engaged.
Google recently released their new industry benchmarks for mobile page speed; it shows us that the longer your site takes to load, the higher the bounce rate:
Source: Google/SOASTA Research, 2017.
If a mobile web page doesn’t load in 3 seconds then 40% of mobile users will leave and 79% of users who use a slow site are less likely to use the site again. This is a clear indication that faster is better and less content really is more. The speed and size of your site are important and marketers need to start thinking about how to make the most engaging and best possible mobile experience for a user. To see how mobile-friendly your site is, visit Google’s TestMySite page to see how well your site is performing across mobile and desktop.
Best Practice Techniques for SEO and Page Speed
There are a number of ways to increase your site’s speed, and we’ve listed just a few of the free-to-use websites that will help you to understand where you can improve your site’s speed:
• Google’s PageSpeed Insight’s Test – not only is it made by the giants themselves, but it will tell you exactly what you need to improve on your site in order for it to perform better on Google and will even give you handy guides on how to do it.
• YSlow – a free tool made by Yahoo that provides suggestions on how to speed up your site.
• Webmaster Tools – Under Labs > Site Performance, you’ll find a chart measuring how fast your site is for users around the world.We find the most useful to be Google’s PageSpeed Insights Test as it gives you a full breakdown of everything that can be done to improve speed. These generally include:
• Optimise images – Try to compress these as small as possible before uploading them to your site. JPEG format is usually best and PNG for graphics. If you’re using WordPress then the TinyPanda plugin is great for reducing all image sizes, alternatively, you can download JPEGmini to reduce their size before uploading.
• Avoid redirects – Redirects increase load time as the web server attempts to redirect you to a different page.
• Leverage browser caching – Many site’s cache information, data and images so the browser doesn’t have to load everything again the next time that user visits. However, you can set an expiry date for your site to clear the cache for every user.
If you’re serious about page speed then the Google-backed AMP Project is a helpful project designed to help publishers and webmasters to create pages that will load quickly on mobile devices. With the upcoming index changes Google will be making, it’s important to ensure your website is seen by potential customers quickly and effectively.Active Internet Marketing has created hundreds of sites for our clients that are fast and fully responsive to all devices. Make sure yours is up-to-date and working as quickly as Google expects by giving us a call on 01604 765796 or by filling out our contact form, and we can help you build the perfect website for your business.