With the added pressure from Google to focus on page speed, the ‘speedability’ of your site is becoming an important part of your Web SEO strategy.
Fast websites have benefits for both users and owners – not only does your website have improved usability; you also save money on operating costs. With page speed included as a signal in Google’s search ranking algorithms, it has even more relevance for Web SEO. We show you ways to put your website into gear and increase your site speed.
Why should I improve my page speed?
There are several reasons why you should improve your website’s loading time as part of your Web SEO strategy. Here are just a few:
- A fast loading site is an indicator of quality by Search Engines such as Google and provides users with a better experience and increased user satisfaction.
- A faster page speed reduces your bounce rate as Google research shows that visitors will spend less time on your website and click back to the search results if your website takes too long to load.
- A quicker site speed contributes to the overall quality of the Web especially for users with slow internet connections.
- An improved on-site performance will contribute more to your bottom line – increasing revenue while driving down operating costs.
What factors affect page speed?
There are a lot of factors that affect site speed and these need to be addressed in your Web SEO plan. Yahoo! has released 35 best practices for making Web pages faster. Here are a few of the more important ones to focus on when optimizing your site that can make or break your page speed.
- Optimize images – Large images may contribute to 90% of your site speed issues. Speak to your Web designer about creating Web-friendly images for your site with the correct resolution and format.
- Minimise redirects – Redirects are accomplished using the 301 and 302 status codes but redirects slow down the user’s experience and can be the cause of your website’s low speed.
- Reduce the number of files that are referenced – Have a single CSS file that handles everything or two smaller ones (eg one for normal browsers and one for mobile) and combine or reduce the number of files needed to display a Web page.
- Linking out to other media – This can also be a cause of a slow page speed. Try not to link out to other media (eg images not hosted on your website). The only exception may be videos as these files tend to be quite large and may take up unnecessary bandwidth.
- Use a slash (/) at the end of your links: If you put a ‘/’ after the end of your links, the server will immediately recognize it points to a directory. This won’t make a huge difference to your site speed but every microsecond counts.
Matt Cutts, the Principal Engineer at Google briefly explains in this Google Webmaster Help video how Google determines site speed.
What tools can I use?
If you are a site owner, webmaster or a Web author, here are some free tools that you can use to evaluate the speed of your site that has been recommended by Search Engine giant Google. These tools are designed to optimize your website for greater speed and improve your Web SEO.
- Google Analytics – By making a change to a tracking code, you can enable a Page Speed report which measures the page load time (lag time) for a sample of pageviews on your website pages and evaluates your content, traffic sources, visitors and technology in relation to site speed.
- Page Speed – This is an open-source Firefox/Firebug and Chrome add-on that evaluates the performance of Web pages and gives suggestions for improvement. It sorts out any possible site revisions in terms of high, medium and low priority. It is also available as a page speed online tool.
- YSlow – This is a free online tool provided by Yahoo! that suggests ways to improve website speed based on Yahoo!’s best practices for improving page loading speeds which includes 35 tips. YSlow is a Firefox add-on integrated with the Firebug Web development tool.
- WebPagetest – This was originally developed for AOL for internal use and was open-sourced in 2008. Depending on your location, you can test your website across different browsers. This page speed test shows a waterfall view of your pages’ load performance and includes an optimization checklist.
- Webmaster Tools – Google launched a tool called Site Performance in late 2009 to give Webmasters valuable information about the speed of their site and suggestions for making it faster. The tool allows you to track your site’s performance and how the suggested changes contribute to the speed of the site.
Let SEO Works get to the nuts and bolts of your site speed problem – evaluating your page loading problems is an important component of our SEO Packages. Contact us if you want our business experts to give your website a full service and learn how to optimize your website for greater page speed as part of your overall Web SEO strategy.