Site speed is a ranking factor within SEO. Having a website that is slow to load and lagging in response is not only incredibly frustrating from a usability point of view, but it’s also detrimental to your website’s performance.
What is site speed and page speed
Essentially this is describing how long it takes for content to load for a user. Page speed is specific to the load time of content on an individual page. Site speed is the time it takes to load your website and for users to navigate around the website via the funnels and user journey that is laid out.
Why does my site speed affect my SEO
Speed is important to Google and important to its users (we’re focusing on Google here but speed is important to all search engines). Although there are several factors that contribute to the ranking and performance of a website, speed is a big one. Google’s main objective is to keep its users happy and provide them with a positive experience online. So if your website isn’t meeting this criteria then Google isn’t going to rank your site above a faster alternative, affecting your SEO performance.
Google has an allocated crawl budget, so the slower your pages are then the less pages Google will be able to crawl. You want your site to be crawled for new updates and new content so this could be a missed opportunity for your SEO efforts.
Google is always introducing new tools to improve user experience. As part of their ‘Core Web Vitals’ (a set of specific metrics that Google considers important in a site’s performance) a new ‘fast page’ feature is to be rolled out. The ‘Fast page’ label will be used to indicate which site pages have a faster loading time within the search engine results. This will be applied to sites that meet the ‘Core Web Vitals’ criteria.
The fact that Google are introducing this feature just goes to show that speed really is important for users and for SEO.
What is my site’s speed?
Do you think your website’s speed could be causing issues for your SEO? If you don’t know what your website’s speed is you can check your site’s speed by using Google’s Page Speed Insights test.
How can I improve my site’s speed to help with SEO
If you’re looking for ways to speed up your website here are some things that can help:
Cleaning up the code on your website can make a big impact on your site speed. Removing unnecessary characters such as commas and spaces, deleting comments and getting rid of any unused code could make a difference to your site’s overall speed.
Resize all images properly. If you don’t have Photoshop then there are free online tools such as Pixlr which will allow you to resize images to the size they need to be to fit within the placeholder of a page. Images can take up unnecessary space and cause pages to load slowly.
Reduce unnecessary plugins.
This isn’t such an issue for a bespoke, purpose built website but some sites that are ‘off-the’shelf’ can come with a lot of plugins and be very bloated with features that you’ll probably never need. This can all lead to slow load times.
Choose a good, reliable host.
Hosting is so important to site speed. Cheap hosting providers that cram hundreds of websites onto one shared server will do you no favours. Look into a hosting provider that provides the space you need and support with keeping software up to date.
Enable browser caching.
Caching is when a browser remembers content it has previously loaded for a user such a code, images and stylesheets. When a user returns to a site then they don’t have to reload the content again.
Site speed is a ranking factor for SEO and if your website is considered slow then this could negatively impact your SEO efforts. So many factors go into optimising a website – SEO is not a one off solution and so just improving your site speed alone may not see drastic results but it will help as part of your SEO strategy.