People who visit websites prefer web pages that load quickly. According to experiments by Google, a slight delay, even just hundred milliseconds, can create a negative impact. But, what does “page speed” certainly mean? Today, in this six-chapter detailed speed optimization guide, I will tackle about page speed and explore why a quick loading page is vital.
Numerous benchmarks and research papers have proven that improving the speed of your website is one of the highest ROI and most inexpensive investments. Fast page speed is important for a lot of reasons. First is to provide first-rate user experience. If your website has a better user experience, then the chances are visitors will spend more time on your website thus the chance of buying from you increases.
Another reason to augment the loading speed is for good search engine ranking. Effective April 2010, a website’s search engine ranking is based on its upload times. In short – if all other aspects are the same – fast websites have a higher ranking compared to slow websites.
So if you have a slower site – what can you do to improve it? I will provide you valuable tips that you can implement right away.
Slow? How Slow?
Google engineers have found out that the hardly visible page load time is about 0.4 seconds is sufficient enough to make users search less.
Nowadays, online businesses have all the available resources that they need to provide content in an instant, however, to control and balance these resources; they will require a website that is speed-optimized that provides the finest user experience.
And what happens when they don’t?
One out of four visitors will leave a website loading takes more than 4 seconds. About 46% of users don’t return to websites that are performing poorly. Owners of the website have about 5 seconds to accommodate visitors before they think of abandoning the site. A 1-second delay in loading time could result to $1.6 billion in yearly losses for many online businesses like Amazon.
About 47% of online customers expect less than 2 seconds of page load time before they consider leaving – 40% will abandon the website if they are waiting at the third second, long before a performance analytics tool detects their presence in the website. Two seconds is the average peak loading time for conversion – which is faster that many websites around the world.
And what happens when they speed up?
Acceptable Website Performance – The Neuroscience and Rhythm
The occipital lobe of the brain can store visual info in the form of sensory memory in the speed of 100 milliseconds.
According to Goggle researchers that a loading time that’s less than 100 milliseconds provides visitors the impression of an instant site reaction the same with how the visual sensory memory processor of the brain functions in surges of 100 milliseconds. The memory store is emptied after 0.1 seconds as the photoreceptor cells found in the eyes convey more info going to the occipital lobe.
To maintain a continuous flow of thought, a 1 second loading time for a page is sufficient enough – users will feel more in control during their browsing activities, and the mental strain isn’t intensified except if the website doesn’t respond as intended.
Visitors will barely stay if there is a 10-second delay. Visitors will feel impatient, frustrated and feel abandoned if there is a delay and they will tend to stop going back to such sluggish websites again.
Reasons Why Your Website Is Loading Slow
How a website performs is always important. A website that performs well improves user experience enormously. This will result in visitors returning to your site, staying for a long amount of time and converting. A well-performing website can be typically seen high in the search results due to the fact that the indexer is experiencing minimal issues with it. And, mobile devices are becoming more vital today that a site can’t manage to perform at a slow rate and without the right improvements.
Below are lists of the most basic mistakes:
Speed optimization is completely neglected while building the website
A lot of businesses don’t think that their website has to be optimized during its development. They only think that it needs optimizing after their website is live and they don’t get the desired organic traffic. By that time, the website will be so intricate that a systematic optimization will need them to essentially start all over. It is ideal to have websites optimized while it’s in the development stage. This will help save time and resources.
Cheap web hosting service
Cheap web hosting service is only cheap at first. With millions of websites, the space for web hosting is crowded enough. Ordinary web hosting services offer cheap services at the same time compromising quality. They are able to do this by hosting a number of sites on a single server. This approach slows down web pages a lot that the revenue loss is greater than the reduction cost.
Too many plugins and widgets
Do you want to have a website that’s well-designed? Just remember, add-ons that sometimes come in as widgets or plugins can weigh on the performance of your website. The addition of a widget can add a 2-second loading time to your page. And, plugins that stream huge date to do difficult operations can greatly affect your site. In the end, these add-ons can even lessen the web page’s functionality.
Advertisements can slow things down. Your page is going to load a lot of stuff from the web to show it to your visitors, so make sure not to overdo it. If you try to make profits in this manner, it may cost you more.
Designs with large hi-res images
Attractive and fine-looking themes may come at a price. Using images with high-resolution may make your site look great. However, it may significantly slow it down. Website owners and developers may be tempted such endeavor and often makes sense. But usually, they end up costing bandwidth and make you lose clients.
Websites not optimized for mobile users
Almost everyone today is using mobile devices, and it’s imperative that your site must be mobile device friendly. Sites that aren’t optimized for mobile device users normally experience from problems such as videos that are non-playable, bloated graphics and inappropriate cross-linking. Furthermore, Google has recently defined that to lower the PageRank of sites without mobile optimizations. And that is something to consider for website owners.
Wrapping it up
Though the issues mentioned above are very obvious, I have witnessed numerous sites experiencing the same issues and problems. Vital factors such as site speed, design, and usability suffer due to time or money matters. So it’s very important to begin with the basics and do some research.
Do not neglect the idea of optimizing website load speed. In today’s digital world, so you can be successful, you must deliver in a fast manner. Visitors will not stay long; you have just a few seconds to catch their attention. So begin optimizing the speed of your website now and you can reap the benefits anytime soon.
My next post will be on the difference between hosting accounts and what server you choose is important to website load speed.
Page speed can sometimes be confused as “site speed”. These two are totally different. Page speed is, in fact, the speed of the page for a sample page views on a site. It can be either defined as “page load”, which is the amount of time it will take to show the content of a specific page completely or “time to first byte”, which is the amount of time for your browser to obtain the first byte of information from the web server.
It doesn’t matter how you measure the speed; the point is, a fast page speed is better and more convenient for the users. In fact, fast pages have better ranking and conversion percentage.
SEO Best Practices
SEO is a difficult subject, particularly if you take into consideration all the information and misinformation that’s been roaming online. Regrettably, it is sometimes difficult to tell from one another. Is the most recent strategy you’re reading effective? Does the strategy work on all the web pages? And so on. Indeed, there are a lot to assess when it comes to the effective SEO practices for page speed.
Just accept the fact, SEO is tricky. But the good thing is, it doesn’t have to be that stressful. If you allocate sufficient time to learn about it, then you will be able to differentiate information from misinformation more easily, and also, you will have the means to go deeper in the advanced concepts of SEO.
SEO isn’t a set it and forget scheme. It is a continuous process. You work on it, quantify results and constantly improve it.
Google has designated site speed as among the signals utilized by its algorithm in ranking pages. As a matter of fact, studies revealed that Google may have been measuring time to the first byte when considering page speed. Moreover, a page that has slow speed will mean that its search engines are crawling fewer pages using their allotted crawl budget and as a result can adversely upset your indexation.
Page speed is imperative for user experience. Pages that are slow loading have a tendency to have high bounce rate and lesser average time on page. Pages that have longer loading times have been shown to adversely lower conversions.
Ways to Improve the Speed of Your Page
1. Optimize images
You need to ensure that the size of the image is not so huge. For example, if an image you are planning to upload is 2,000 pixels wide, but your post will only allow you 600 pixels of space to fill your blog, then it’s smart that you change the size of the picture. This will help your page not to load for a long time because of large image size.
TIP: Make sure that the pictures aren’t big as they have to be, they have the appropriate format (PNGs are typically much better for visuals with less than 16 colors while JPEGs are normally superior for pictures) and that the images are compressed.
You can utilize CSS sprites to make a template for images that you normally use on your websites such as icons and buttons. CSS sprites work by combining your images making it one big image that loads everything at the same time (which results in fewer HTTP requests) and then is showed in sections that you want to display. This results in less loading time by not letting users wait for numerous images to load.
Since you are optimizing images, you must also ensure that you should focus is in the Alt Area. Bots that are crawling into your web page doesn’t see the picture as human onlookers do. But, the Alt texts that you enter can be seen by these bots. Therefore, make sure that you write information that is related to the post and the picture. Valid HTML also need to have alt tags.
2. Enable compression
Compression allows your web server to offer reduced file sizes that can load much faster for the users. Compression with Gzip for CSS and HTML files normally saves about 50-70% of the file size. This results in reduced loading speed for your pages and lesser bandwidth used.
Gzip should not be used on image files. As an alternative, compress these files using a program such as Photoshop where you can maintain control on the image quality.
3. Increase the server response time
Server response time pertains to the response time of a web server to a request from a particular browser. It doesn’t matter how ready your web pages are for speed, if you have a slow server response time, your pages will display slowly.
Four important factors converge to define your server response time:
Website Traffic – More traffic, more problems.
Website Resource Usage – If every web page you have uses few resources, server response time could improve and at the same time spend less money.
Web Server Software – If your planning to change the web server configuration or software, server response time can also improve and you can spend less money.
Web Hosting – Your server response time can also be improved by improving the quality and scope of your web hosting; however, you will need to spend money on doing this.
4. Lessen the redirects
Redirects are methods or directions that design take visitors from one file location to another. There are a lot of good reasons for having redirects; however, it is important to remember that redirects can result in problems in speed and performance. Each redirect you can eliminate or clean can help make your page load much faster.
5. Leverage browser caching
6. Use a Content Distribution Network
CDNs or Contact Delivery Networks are a system of servers spread all over the world to deliver web pages and other content centered on the geographical location of the user. As a result, huge volumes of content are easily delivered without any disruptions.
For example, if you have a website that’s in Ontario, people accessing its pages in Alberta are going to receive the web content much faster as compared to people accessing it from Japan. The distant the person is in accessing the page, the longer the loading time. This can be terrifying for the user. However, having your website loaded from numerous servers and numerous locations is good for SEO as it speeds up the load time of the web pages.
CDNs give businesses the chance to spread out to numerous web users anywhere around the world in a few seconds. Being able to present your company up front to a lot of people rapidly must be your topmost concern.
Web traffic and search engine ranking is mostly a gauge of how good a website is performing. Significant as they are, not all is suggestive of the success of an online business compared to conversion rates and sales figures. Taking matters into perspective, online business sites with almost 0% bounce rate, 15% conversion rates, and ten thousand distinct site visitors from low search engine rankings are doing much better compared to high search engine ranking sites reveling in only 0.01% conversion rate and 100,000 distinct visits.
The argument on conversion rate optimization can go on for a long time, and employing business best method on Frankensteinish websites is going to take a lot of investment working patiently that spans for months before any noteworthy result on conversion rate improvement can be seen.
There is a lot more to swaying edgy people of the cyber world in buying products and services online than employing passive business approaches to improve marketability. Businesses online are concentrating on boosting site performance experience results by means of high conversion rates and increased sales.
Page load speed somehow fills in the gap in improving marketability by enhancing the site user experience to ensure that anxious online clients are hooked and happy. According to a latest research conducted by O’Rielly reported that enhancing website user experience through reduction of page loading time improves conversion rates and sales to a significant level.
The quest for optimizing site speed starts with determining vital front-end problems mostly seen under standard site performance testing processes.
What to Test?
Before starting to search for the issues in page speed, knowing the behavior of the most dynamic site speed performance indicators can help to determine website performance gaps precisely.
However, it can be very hard to identify what site performance indicators you must observe.
Below is a list of top seven website performance indicators we think are very vital. Make certain that you track every one of the indicators to ensure optimum customer experience.
Keeping tabs on the accessibility of your site is no doubt the most vital part of monitoring a website. If possible, you must continuously check the uptime of your vital pages from various locations all over the world. Determine the amount of time you website is down for two weeks or a month, and express it in percentage.
Initial Page Speed
The behavior and tolerance threshold of customers have changed. Today, people who go through websites expect that it will load fast. And if doesn’t load fast, they will immediately leave and go to the website of a competitor. It is possible to check the load speed of your website by using Ping request (which measures the amount of time from your position up until the site begins loading) and load time evaluation, for instance, determining the time it will take to download a web page’s source code. Remember that this evaluation shows the amount of time of the raw page to load. However, that is not the total user experience. For that, you must measure.
Full Page Load Time including images, videos, etc.
This performance indicator is also known as End User Experience testing. It is the extent of time that will take for dynamically-loaded (AJAX) content, videos, images and other things that users see come up on their monitor. This isn’t the same to the time it takes to download raw files to the device it is going to show on.
Page speed and full page load time are both vital to measure for you can use various methods to enhance for both. Videos, images, and other content can be cached separately, CDNs or content delivery networks, whereas dynamic content may require fast databases and dedicated servers. Determining the way your site behaves as it scales will be helpful in determining what infrastructure to place.
If you have a company that’s globally active or if you have customers from various parts of the globe, knowing your geographical performance – which is the availability and speed of your website in various locations – is very vital. Your main goal is to ensure that your site can be accessed easily by visitors irrespective of their location to provide them a better customer experience.
A lot of companies take this factor for granted, only analyzing performance in common locations. At a minimum, use your website analytics as a guide to put testing in place that shadows the locations from which your visitors are accessing your site.
Website Load Tolerance
Do you have any idea on a number of visitors to slow down you site? It is a significant indicator to determine for if you’re employing aggressive marketing strategies or are noticed by the press, you might face a predicament where your site is swamped with visitors in a short span of time.
You must perform regular stress tests and compare its results to the number of visitors your site have during peak times. After knowing the load capacity of your website, you can then modify your infrastructure to meet the needs. Check out for “tipping points” so you will be ready when there is surprise increase in traffic.
Web Server CPU Load
Among the reasons for the website, failure is CPU usage. Excessive processing can bring down almost anything on the server, without any sign as to where the source of the problem is. Web server failures can be prevented by regularly keeping an eye on your CPU usage. If you aren’t able to install monitoring software on your servers because of hosting measures and other limitations, try employing a script that shows the amount of existing disk space and CPU load to a very simple HTML page.
Website Database Performance
Another source of the problem of your website is your database. A query that is badly optimized, for instance, can be the difference between a fast site and a useless one. It is vital to observe your database logs thoroughly. Produce alerts if there are results that have error messages or give results that are beyond the expected standards. Utilize the integrated capabilities of the database to know, which queries are taking much of the time, and determine methods to enhance those by files and other approaches. Most essentially, keep an eye on the total performance of the database to ensure that it is not a holdup.
If you are capable of monitoring all the seven metrics, you can have a good notion as to how your website is performing and what changes to make if it’s not performing well.
Below I will list three different places where you can see how fast or slow your website loads and what is causing the issues if they are any.
I first came across Pingdom Tools a few years and have been using it ever since. You can test your websites load speed from various locations. After the test it allows you to see what is causing the issues if you have any.
GTMetrix doesn’t allow you to test from any location like Pingdom Tools. But they do a better job dedtailing what the issues are and how you can understand them more clearly.
Google Page Speed Insights
Google has for a very long time done a great job with providing free tools for website owners to create better website. Page speed insights is another one of those tools. After testing it does lack more details on how to fix issues if your website is loading slow. It does give you an idea of exactly the things they are looking for in a fast loading website.
With the three tools above, they should help you find out if and why your website is loading slow. If after testing you are still unsure of what some of the issues are, then read the next blog post on SEO best practices for page speed.
Your website load speed is important for a couple of reasons.
First off, you want to have a fast loading website so your visitors don’t get impatient and leave before you have a chance to tell them how great you are. After all, you worked so hard to get them to click on your website. You don’t want them to leave because your website loads slow do you?
Of course not.
The second reason is because Google and the other search engines are making page load speed a ranking factor.
Over the next six blog posts, I’m going to go in depth about how to improve web page loading speed. Today’s post will answer the question “Does website speed affects SEO & search rankings?”
Read on and I’ll explain why it does and what factors play a role in page load speed.
SEO or search engine optimization has a lot of moving components and is affected by numerous of occurrences online. Through the years, Google and many search engines strive hard to provide the end-users optimum and useful information online to their fingertips. However, this doesn’t include your content. Search Engine Optimization can also be affected by your website. Among the latest and vital factor of your website strength is the page speed.
Page speed is the extent of time a certain page needs to be totally loaded. Page speed greatly depends on a number of factors, including the host, design and coding. As a matter of fact, load time is important for both search engines and end-users. End-users don’t stay for long on websites that take too long to load and search engine like Google will reprimand your website if it loads too long. Similarly, a fast website converts better.
Why does Google care so much about how fast your pages load?
No doubt, users like fast, convenient websites and so does Google. A site with web pages that load fast leads to good UX or user experience, and a substantial UX results to higher conversion.
In fact, a fast site has an affects on the UX of your users. A negative UX e.g. if your users have to wait longer to get what they want can result in revenue loss. These users will close your website instantly. And most of all, a website page that loads too slow is penalized by search engines and can affect your ranking, may it be on a desktop or mobile devices.
In fact, Google compares your website against your opponents on a particular segment and rewards your’s if it’s the fastest. However, be cautious that marks aren’t given separately: it considers the country, network, or device.
How does page load speed impact UX?
Google has employed page speed in its algorithm as studies revealed that faster website loading time leads to happy users.
Almost half of users anticipate pages to load within a maximum of 2 seconds.
A 1-second delay on load speed can reduce conversions by about 7%.
Studies have shown that 75% of users will not return to a page that loads for more than 4 seconds.
Shopzilla increased the loading speed of their site and resulted in a 25% rise in page views and about 7-12% increase in revenue.
A study conducted by Google showed that slowing down the search results page by 100 to 400 milliseconds has a measurable impact on the number of searches per user.
AOL reported that page load speed can have an affects on page views per visit by a maximum of 50%.
What factors can reduce your page loading speed?
Your host: You will get what you pay for. Ultimately, a cheap offer can wreak havoc on your loading speed as time goes by. So, make sure to opt for the appropriate host that’s suitable for your business needs.
Enormous images: Images that takes the time to load can reduce your site speed. It’s sometimes because of extra data embedded in the comments or absence of compression. You must go for PNG files for images that don’t need high details such as logos and JPEG file type for pictures.
Unoptimized browser, plugins, and app: It is ideal to test your website on all type of browsers because they don’t load the same way. Furthermore, apps such as Flash can greatly decrease loading speed of your page.
Tons of ads: Many ads can bother site visitors and have the knack to reduce the loading speed of your page.
External embedded media: External media such as videos are extremely valuable; however, it can reduce the loading speed of your site. To increase loading time, make sure to host your videos on your server.
Your theme: There are themes that are well-designed and have many affects but can affect the loading speed of your page. Some pre-made WordPress themes for example have lots of coding and are slow to load.
Widgets: There are comment areas or social buttons that can affect the loading speed of your page.
Double-barreled code: If you have a HTML/CSS that’s inefficient or too dense, it will decrease the loading speed of your page.
Now that you aware of how website speed affects SEO and search rankings, here are a few places you can test your website speed.
But there still is a way you can drive traffic to your website by targeting users in surrounding cities. Read on to find out what that is.
Local SEO Landing Pages
Just because you can’t rank in the Google Maps in another city, doesn’t mean that you can’t create a landing page on your website targeting a surrounding city. We’ve done this for quite a few of our clients. Especially those doing business in smaller cities and have clients from other smaller surrounding cities.
Those two posts will help you learn what it takes to create a good landing page targeting another surrounding city. Now it will take some time for these new pages to rank in a surrounding city. So be patient. But how long though? It depends on a few factors like:
How much trust does your domain have with the search engines?
How well written and optimized the page is?
How unique is each page? Don’t just copy and paste the same text and change the city name.
How many interlinks do you have to each of these surrounding city pages? Be sure to write a few blog posts about your service geared towards those cities and have a link to a city page you’ve created.
When we write these pages for our client, we always be sure to add honesty. We’ll add a sentence like this in this first paragraph:
“You are searching for a painter in Cape Coral. Even though we are not physically located in Cape Coral and operate in Fort Myers, we have helped many clients in the Cape Coral with their painting projects.”
Again, the chances of ranking in the top 3 of Google Maps in a surrounding is highly unlikely. But you can still follow the steps from this post and the others I’ve linked to to create landing pages targeting those surrounding cities.