Page Speed Graphic

How to optimise your Page Speed for SEO

What do the top-ranking positions on Google all have in common? Fast page speeds.

The average load time for sites is over 8 seconds – yet, Google’s best-practice benchmark is under 3 seconds.

This means that most sites are missing the mark when it comes to having a fast loading site.

But, if you want a shot at ranking on the first page of Google then you need a site that loads fast.

It makes sense, after all, people want to find answers to their questions quickly and Google wants to deliver those answers quickly.

Speed has a critical impact on your website ranking, but how can you ensure your site loads quickly to avoid falling to the bottom of the pile?

In this blog we’ll look at Google’s own criteria for a fast loading page and how to implement these changes into your site to score a near perfect 100% score for page loading time.

But first – what is Page Speed?

 

Page speed is the measurement of how fast the content on your page loads.

Page speed can be described as either page load time, the amount of time it takes to fully display the content on a specific page, or time to first byte, the time it takes your browser to receive the first byte of information from the web server.

But how do you measure your page speed? Handily, there’s a tool for that.

Any website’s page speed can be measured and evaluated with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

Simply enter your web page URL and the tool will analyse your content before making suggestions on how you can make that page load faster as well as giving you a score out of 100.

But why does this all matter?

 

Because page speed impacts your search ranking

Rewind back to 2010 when Google first announced that page speed was a ranking factor, but this only applied to desktop searches. Fast-forward to July 2018 and Google officially launched its Speed Update.

With the update, Google began to look at how fast a mobile web page loaded and started to use that as a ranking factor. It’s not surprising considering that almost 60% of all searches are now carried out on mobile.

Back to the present day and there’s one thing that’s clear when it comes to SEO. All the top results on Google are extremely fast to load.

The average load speed for top ranking sites is just 1.9s. Compare that to sites that are ranked in position 10 and below which are typically 17% slower to load.

Not only does Google reward pages that load quickly with a better ranking, but a speedy site will pay off when it comes to user experience too. After all, a whopping 53% of searchers will leave a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Pages with longer load speed times consistently have a higher bounce rate. As a page load time goes from 1 to 3 seconds the possibility of bounce increases to 32%, when this rises to 5 seconds the probability of bounce increases to 90%, take up to 10 seconds to load and the probable bounce rate rises to 123%.

Quick page load time is good user experience and also correlates to stronger conversion rates – a recent study by Portent found that by speeding your site up to load in under 2 seconds can double your traffic and revenue.

What’s more, longer load times have also proven to negatively impact conversion rates.

So, how can you test your page speed and optimise it accordingly?

 

As we’ve mentioned, Google has its very own tool for measuring a site’s speed.

Simply input your URL into the PageSpeed Insights tool, click analyse and Google will run a test on your site before generating a report highlighting any problems with your site’s speed and giving it a score out of 100.

As the mobile version of your site has an impact on your ranking you will also want to test the mobile version. For this, head over to Test My Site and again, input your URL and enter.

Google will report back, giving you a detailed insight into how your mobile performs. It will even let you know how many visitors you might be losing because of low page speeds.

Once you’ve run the tests, chances are you’ve got some work to do. So, what are Google’s criteria for a speedy site and how can you achieve that?

 

There are 4 main factors you should concentrate on when it comes to speeding up your website.

By focusing on these 4 elements, you will see a great improvement in your Google PageSpeed Insights score and will get much closer to that perfect 100%.

 

Compress your images

 

The biggest cause of slow loading pages and low scores on Google’s PageSpeed Insights is images.

Images that are too large will slow down your site.

A top optimisation technique for your images is compression. You can save up to a massive 50% or more on image size by simply compressing your images. And it’s super easy to do with the use of the many handy free tools out there.

Our favourites include:

These are all completely free and easy to use. Just head over to the sites, create an account and follow the instructions.

Use browser caching

 

This is another way to make a huge impact on your page speed.

Think of it like this. Getting the resources to load your site takes lots of effort – each image and page element has to first load before then dealing with the HTML and coding.

Every time somebody loads your site, this process happens over again which essentially means that your site can take a long time to load.

This is where browser caching can help.

Browsing caching essentially ‘remembers’ the previously-loaded resources, meaning it doesn’t have to reload them every time someone visits your page.

This can increase your speed massively when people are landing on your page.

Don’t worry if this sounds a little technical, you don’t have to be an expert coder – there’s a handy plugin that can help.

For a WordPress site you can use a plugin called W3 Total Cache.

This plugin claims and proves to give you at least a 10x improvement in your site performance. What’s more, it claims to help you achieve higher results on Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

Minify your HTML

 

Another factor that can help get the perfect speed score is by minimizing the space your HTML coding takes up.

Minification works by fixing or removing any unnecessary or duplicated data without changing how a page appears.

Again, this all sounds rather technical – it involves removing unused code and fixing, formatting and shortening code. But thankfully, you can get help from handy plugins.

One great tool for this is HTML Minify. It is a free plugin that you can install straight onto your WordPress site. With this plugin, you will get the option to minify HTML, JavaScript and remove HTML, JavaScript and CSS comments. This is great considering that Google’s PageSpeed Insights recommends that you minify HTML, JavaScript and CSS.

Some other of our favourite tools include:

  • CSSNano for CSS
    UglifyJS for Javascript

Use AMP

 

In 2016 Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) was integrated into Google’s mobile search results.

Using AMP helps to improve your page load speed. In fact, AMP web pages can load up to 4 times faster than non-AMP pages.

AMP works through making an open-source format that gets rid of loads of unnecessary content, which means your mobile page loads nearly instantly.

What’s more, AMP optimised content often appears at the top of the search results on mobile, above organic and paid results.

They look like this:

That’s valuable visibility plus increased chances of clicks.

The benefits don’t stop there. Research shows that websites using AMP receive on average a 2x increase in time spent on a given page, and 20% increase in sales and conversions for ecommerce sites. 

Because they don’t have much formatting, they are quick to load and deliver the exact content that a searcher wants to see.

When the searcher clicks through on an AMP result, they land on a simplified version of the real website.

To get started using AMP on your own site you can follow AMP’s detailed tutorial, or if you’re less technically inclined you can upload a plugin such as AMP for WP.

Once you’ve installed the plugin, you can use the page builder on each new post you upload to create AMP-friendly versions.

For more help on optimising your site, check out our handy 7 step guide to DIY website optimisation. Or, if you’d like the guidance of handy website optimisation tools, check out our Guide here.

Next Steps – ready to get your website up to speed?

 

Scoring the perfect 100% on Google’s PageSpeed Insights is no easy task. It will take time, work and energy. Every detail counts, right down to the last image or icon on your site. But, optimising your site to load fast will pay off in terms of boosting your ranking on Google and improving user experience.

At Report Central we know that it doesn’t matter how beautiful your site is, if it isn’t optimised to load fast, it will have a difficult time ranking highly in Google and in turn driving traffic and conversions. For help with optimising your page speed get in touch with the team today.

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