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Slow loading sites turn-off users, who will hit the back browser button in a heartbeat, while Google wants users to have an overall positive experience when they click on a search result. Google introduced site speed as a ranking factor back in 2010.
Site speed is concerned with how fast a site loads into the user’s browser, and this includes all the content, the images and video. How fast a site will load is dependent on a number of issues, such as how the site is coded, where it is hosted and how large the files are which need to be run to display the webpage in the user’s browser.
A faster loading speed is a better user experience, plus a positive boost for higher ranking in the SERPs.
How Do I Check My Site Loading Speed?
The first thing you should do is check your existing site load speed. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools out there which will do this for you for free.
Input your website URL into any of these tools for a site speed assessment:
- Google’s Page Speed Tool: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights
- Pingdom: http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/
- WebPageTest: http://www.webpagetest.org/
What Should My Site Load Speed Be?
If you have a site load speed of less than 2 seconds – you’re in the right range, but faster is always better.
A load speed of 2 to 5 seconds is putting you in the danger zone.
More than 5 seconds and you are losing visitors and suffering in the SERPs.
How Do I Make My Website Load Faster?
There are several things you can do to speed up the page load speed, and here are RankPay’s top tips for a faster website.
Page Speed Tip #1 – Resize Images so they are reduced to the minimum usable size
Using large image files will substantially slow down the page load speed. Minimize the file size by opening the image in a picture editor, such as Photoshop or even Paint. By reducing the pixels to the size you want the image to be rendered, e.g. 300×300 pixels, you will substantially speed up the load speed than if the image was actually, say, 1200×1200 pixels.
Page Speed Tip #2 – Use Faster File Formats for Images
Image file formats vary in how they render the image and also how fast they will load. If you have a photo with a lot of color range, then you will probably need to use a JPEG format, however this is going to be slow-loading.
Use a GIF for images which have minimal color range, for instance the company logo.
Alternately, use a PNG format for other images where ultra-high quality is not an issue.
Page Speed Tip #3 – Omit Images Altogether
By now you probably realize that images are a particular culprit when it comes to slowing down load speeds, and you’ll be right. Image files are much bigger than text files used to render the words, and video files are even bigger.
If you don’t need to use an image or video, don’t use it.
Page Speed Tip #4 – Use YouTube for Video Hosting
If you are using video, you have two choices: host the video on your own server or use a 3rd Party hosting site, such as YouTube.
A self-hosted video has certain benefits from the point of view of getting the video ranked (if the video does rank, the site where it is hosted is getting the SERPs credit). On the other hand, hosting the video on a 3rd party site and simply providing the streaming window is faster loading.
Page Speed Tip #5 – Use Website Compression Tools
Website compression tools compress the text files which contain the web code and your written content. By compressing the files, they are faster to load from the hosting server where they are stored and into the user’s browser.
Website compression tools do not affect how the website looks, but be aware that they will not compress images and video (so you still need to address these).
Page Speed Tip #6 – Minimize the Use of Plugins and External Utilities
If you are adding widgets and plugins to your website, then these are served up by a provider whom you have no control over. For instance, an eCommerce shopping cart such as Volusion is not under your direct control, so if there is a load speed issue it is something you cannot deal with except by asking the 3rd party provider to speed up their act.
Placing widgets on your website for sharing your content is a good idea overall, but be careful which ones you use because these too can slow your site load speed down. Always check the site speed implications for any plugin or external feature, as the benefit may not be outweighed by a slower speed.
To summarize, Site Speed absolutely impacts the user experience and is an important signal that the Engine’s monitor regularly. Utilizing the tips highlighted above will help improve site conversion and position your site better within the competitive landscape of the search results.