When it comes to website optimisation, one of the most important elements is your website speed. A poor site speed can see your customers leave your website immediately and put off new customers who could have been potentially willing to convert on your website. The longer visitors have to wait for your page to load, the less likely they are to convert, even milliseconds have been shown to reduce conversions. Improving your website page speed not only improves the experience of customers on your website, it also works perfectly to support your other SEO efforts and bring new customers to your website. We’ve pulled together a complete guide on how to improve your website speed and why page speed is important for SEO.
Why is my Site Speed Important for SEO?
The main target of SEO, or search engine optimisation is to bring customers to your website. One of the key ways this is done is by improving the ways your customers interact with your website, find the information they need and hopefully convert into paying customers. If you are looking for a way to be more visible in Google, one of the first things you should look at is optimising your website’s performance and more specifically looking at website speed optimisation.
Google lists site speed as one of the factors involved with ranking websites in search engine results pages, so a slow website could mean that you are missing out on appearing to customers looking for your services. Pages that have a lower or slower load time often tend to have a lower average time on page by visitors and a higher bounce rate, meaning potential customers will leave your website. For any given search, one of the main things that top search engine results have in common is website speed so optimising yours is essential.
How to Test Page Speed on your Website
Whilst there are many websites out there claiming to tell all on website speed, the main website speed test tool is PageSpeed Insights by Google. One of the main reasons we look at how to improve website speed is to boost SEO and perform well. As the biggest search engine in the UK, optimising for Google is key so using their tools to tell you how your page is performing and how you can boost your website speed is a no-brainer.
How to Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool to Measure Your Website’s Speed
Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool allows you to measure the performance of your website on both desktop and mobile. The mobile page speed test is particularly useful as it allows you to make adjustments to your website in order to improve the site speed and accessibility of your website for mobile users, one of the biggest groups when it comes to website searches. Improving your website’s mobile page speed is a good way to further optimise your website for SEO as Google’s ‘mobile first’ indexing means that it now uses the mobile version of your website for indexing and ranking. Therefore, boosting website speeds on mobile can mean your website ranks better overall.
As well as simply telling you your website speed, Google’s PageSpeed Insights also give you suggestions on how to improve your site speed and lists issues for you to improve on in order to raise your site speed score.
To use the page speed test, simply visit the Google page insights page, enter your URL into the search bar and click ‘Analyze’. You will then be presented with the results of your page speed test with tabs for both mobile and desktop results. A page speed score of 0-49 is lower than it should be, a speed score of 50-89 average and 90-100 means that your website speed is fantastic, well done! Scrolling down the page you will find further information on how your page was scored as well as information on opportunities or ways to improve your website page speed and diagnostics on how your page speed met certain criteria set by Google. Use this feedback from Google PageSpeed Insights to influence your website changes and you will be well on your way to improving your website page speed and improving your website speed SEO.
How to Improve Website Page Speeds for SEO
So you have put your website through Google’s page speed test and read up on the results but your page still isn’t the best it can be. There are a few other ways website owners can improve website speed for SEO, here are just some of them.
Compress Images to Improve Page Speeds
When it comes to how to improve website page speed, one of the simplest ways to improve is to take a look at the images you are using on your website. You probably already know that optimising website images is important for your website SEO but when loading a page, large, high-resolution images can take a long time to load, therefore slowing your website down and putting off potential site visitors. In order to combat this, take a look at optimising your site images for faster site speeds. The key to optimising images for page speeds is to reach a balance between low image sizes and acceptable image quality. If your images are too compressed or low quality, it will make your site seem unprofessional, but if your images are too big, your site speed will suffer as a result.
If you use WordPress to run your website, one of the easiest ways to improve website speeds in terms of images is to use a plugin dedicated to optimising images for web use. This will be able to automatically optimise your images files without much loss in quality. However, it is important that you don’t use massive files in the first place to avoid taking up too much disk space.
Another method of optimising your images for site speed and SEO is to compress your images to a smaller file size before you upload them to your website. This can be done through a number of online tools as well as software such as Affinity, Gimp and Photoshop among others. Using the best file type for your image can also help to reduce file size. For example, PNG may create higher quality images, but it also has a much higher file size then formats such as JPEG or JPG.
Switch to a Better DNS Provider for Faster Page Speeds
Although your hosting may come with a DNS, this may not always be the fastest option for your website. If you have never looked at your website’s DNS it may be worth checking whether it is the best one to help your website speed. A good DNS is like a phone book. It keeps a list of domains with a cached image of your website ready to show site visitors when they visit your page whilst your site is loading, once it has finished, your visitors will then be swapped over to your site. The reason for this is that these cached images of your web pages generally load faster to avoid visitors waiting around. DNS servers such as Cloud Flare offer fast loading speeds and can often hold a copy of your site in the country that has visited it with multiple different security options to improve your site.
Choose the Best Hosting Option for your Website
You can read all about why good hosting is important here but having poor hosting is one of the factors that can affect website speed and therefore SEO. Whilst a cheaper website hosting option may sound appealing, once your site begins to attract more traffic, this can affect your server response times. This is obviously not a good option if you want to keep leads coming into and staying on your website. Some hosting providers use a scalable hosting system which grows according to your traffic needs to avoid affecting site speeds. Good hosting can also reduce the risk of website ‘down time’ from website hosts neglecting website upkeep which can affect your website SEO.
Monitor your Website’s Redirects
When a visitor to your website hits a redirect, they then have to be directed from one page to another therefore using up page loading times. The best port of call for your website speed is to have as few redirects as possible in order to keep your website running smoothly and to avoid having to change where customers are being directed to too frequently. However, sometimes redirects are necessary so it is important to recognise the different types of redirects and how they are used on your page. The types of redirect include 301 and 302s. 301s are permanent redirects meaning that if you set this, the user browser will always remember this redirect exists and will cache that redirect and automatically use it when visiting the site in the future. 302s are temporary redirects meaning that they will not be remembered by the browser and the original page will need to be hit every time someone visits your site before they are redirected. This can slow your site down considerably if you have too many of them so it is important for you to check to see if your website really needs them.
It’s worth noting that if you are using your redirects in order to direct mobile users to a mobile-only site, it may be worth creating a responsive website instead that caters to both desktop and mobile users to avoid overuse of redirects and improve your website speed.
If you are looking for more ways to optimise your website to improve site speed for SEO, our team of experts is ready and waiting to help. Get in touch online now or call 0121 552 6500 to find out how we can help improve your website or offer other ways to improve SEO.