Page speed is often confused with ‘site speed.’ Page speed is actually the time it takes for a webpage to load and fully display its available content. With that being said, page speed is a crucial element when it comes to both SEO and user satisfaction. Not only will you be able to get your website to rank better in the search engines, but it will help you convert more of your traffic as well. Below, we will be going over why fast loading web pages are so important.
Why Fast Loading Web Pages Are So Important For SEO:
One of the biggest reasons it is so crucial to achieving a fast loading web page is because of optimization purposes. Search engines want to provide the best experience for their own users. Thus, in order to effectively do so, they need to ensure that the websites they are ranking high within the search engine ranks are well optimized. Having a fast loading web page is one of the biggest indicators of having a well-optimized website.
2. Mobile Responsiveness.
Another reason why having a fast loading webpage is so important for achieving a high ranking within the search engines is because it means that your website is mobile responsive. Because a majority of the traffic now comes from mobile devices, search engine providers are making a concerted effort to boost the rankings of websites that adhere to this trend. Thus, if your website is not fast loading or if it is unoptimized for mobile traffic, you are bound to experience some sort of penalty within the search engine ranks.
Now that we have gone over some of the main reasons it is so important to have fast loading web pages, we will be going over some of the top ways to achieve it.
Ways To Achieve Fast Loading Web pages:
One of the best ways to achieve faster load times for your web pages is by enabling compression. By reducing the overall size of your CSS, HTML, and Java files, you will be able to make your web pages load at a much faster overall rate.
2. Reduce Redirects.
Another successful way to minimize load times is by reducing the number of redirects you use. Each time a page redirects a user to another page, additional time is added to the load time. Thus, by reducing this redirect pattern, you should be able to achieve significantly reduced load times. One example of a redirect could be redirecting your visitor to a mobile version of your website.
Overall, there are plenty of different ways you are going to be able to minimize the load times that each of your webpages has. By implementing the tips above, you should be able to achieve highly optimized web pages that load fast. By achieving fast load times, you will be able to boost your website’s organic rankings in the search engines and even achieve a higher conversion rate for the traffic that you do end up generating.
Success in search engine optimization (SEO) requires not only an understanding of where Google’s algorithm is today but an insight to where Google is heading in the future.
Based on my experience, it has become clear to me Google will place a stronger weight on the customer’s experience with page load speed as part of their mobile-first strategy. With the investment Google has made in page performance, there are some indicators we need in order to understand how critical this factor is now and will be in the future. For example:
- AMP — Specifically designed to bring more information into the search engine results pages (SERPs) in a way that delivers on the customer’s intent most expeditiously. Google’s desire to quickly serve the customer “blazing-fast page rendering and content delivery” across devices and media begins with Google caching more content in their own cloud.
- Google Fiber — A faster internet connection for a faster web. A faster web allows for a stronger internet presence in our everyday lives and is the basis of the success of the internet of things (IoT). What the internet is today is driven by content and experience delivery. When fiber installations reach critical mass and gigabit becomes the standard, the internet will begin to reach its full potential.
- Google Developer Guidelines — 200-millisecond response time and a one-second top of fold page load time, more than a subtle hint that speed should be a primary goal for every webmaster.
Now that we are aware page performance is very important to Google, how do we as digital marketing professionals work speed and performance into our everyday SEO routine?
A first step would be to build the data source. SEO is a data-driven marketing channel, and performance data is no different from positions, click-through rates (CTRs) and impressions. We collect the data, analyze, and determine the course of action required to move the metrics in the direction of our choosing.
Tools to use
With page performance tools it is important to remember a tool may be inaccurate with a single measurement. I prefer to use at least three tools for gathering general performance metrics so I can triangulate the data and validate each individual source against the other two.
Data is only useful when the data is reliable. Depending on the website I am working on, I may have access to page performance data on a recurring basis. Some tool solutions like DynaTrace, Quantum Metric, Foglight, IBM and TeaLeaf collect data in real time but come with a high price tag or limited licenses. When cost is a consideration, I rely more heavily on the following tools:
- Google Page Speed Insights — Regardless of what tools you have access to, how Google perceives the performance of a page is really what matters.
- Pingdom.com — A solid tool for gathering baseline metrics and recommendations for improvement. The added capability to test using international servers is key when international traffic is a strong driver for the business you are working on.
- GTMetrix.com — Similar to Pingdom, with the added benefit of being able to play back the user experience timeline in a video medium.
- WebPageTest.org — A bit rougher user interface (UI) design, but you can capture all the critical metrics. Great for validating the data obtained from other tools.
Use multiple tools to capitalize on specific benefits of each tool, look to see if the data from all sources tells the same story. When the data is not telling the same story, there are deeper issues that should be resolved before performance data can be actionable.
While it is more than feasible to analyze a single universal resource locator (URL) you are working on, if you want to drive changes in the metrics, you need to be able to tell the entire story.
I always recommend using a sampling approach. If you are working on an e-commerce site, for example, and your URL focus is a specific product detail page, gather metrics about the specific URL, and then do a 10-product detail page sample to produce an average. There may be a story unique to the single URL, or the story may be at the page level.