To improve page speed for your website, one of the first steps is to consider the type of content you have and how you can reduce its size.
The page speed of your website affects your bounce rates, average time per session, conversion rate, and, ultimately, your position in SERPs. Hence, your website speed is a crucial aspect of any SEO strategy.
In this post, I’ll show you how you can quickly improve page speed for your website for more traffic and increased growth.
How Page Speed Affects SEO
a. Direct ranking factor
Google has confirmed that page speed is a direct ranking factor for mobile and desktop searches, meaning faster pages tend to rank higher in search results. Google wants to provide its users with the best possible experience, and faster pages are generally more user-friendly.
b. Better user experience
Users are more likely to stay on a website that loads quickly. Slow-loading pages can lead to frustration and increase bounce rates. A study by Google found that the average user will wait only three seconds for a page to fully load before leaving.
c. Mobile optimization
More people are using their mobile devices to access the Internet. Google has prioritized mobile indexing, which means your website’s mobile version is the primary version that Google considers when ranking your pages.
This makes it even more important to have a fast-loading mobile website because mobile users have less patience; they want it fast and quick.
d. Page indexing
Google uses bots to crawl the internet and index websites, and they can only crawl a limited number of pages per day. If your website is slow, it may take longer for Google bots to index your pages.
It might lead to a longer time for your new pages to appear in search results.
e. Lower ranking for competitive keywords
If you are competing for competitive keywords, a slow page speed can put you at a disadvantage. Even a slight difference in page speed can make a big difference in rankings.
f. Featured snippets and rich results
Featured snippets and rich results are special snippets of information that appear at the top of search results. Google is more likely to display featured snippets and rich results from websites with fast page speeds.
g. Conversion rate
Page speed can also affect your conversion rate. A study by Amazon found that every 100ms increase in page load time resulted in a 1% decrease in conversion rate.
h. Local SEO
Google considers page speed when ranking local businesses in search results. A fast page speed can give you an advantage over your competitors in local search results.
i. Mobile-first indexing
As mentioned earlier, Google has prioritized mobile indexing. When ranking your pages, Google now considers your website’s mobile version the primary version, making it more important to have a fast-loading website and optimize it for mobile devices.
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How to Improve Page Speed for Your Website
Now that you have a good grasp of how page speed affects the health of your website, here are some ways you can improve the page speed of your website:
1. Optimize images.
Images and most media are often one of the largest components of a web page, so optimizing them can significantly impact page speed.
Here are a few tips for optimizing your images:
i. Use efficient image formats.
WebP is a newer image format that can significantly reduce file size without sacrificing quality.
If your website supports WebP, you should use it for all your images. JPEG is another good option for most images, but use PNG for images with text or transparent backgrounds.
ii. Resize your images to the appropriate size.
There is no need to upload a 3000px wide image if it will only be displayed at 500px wide.
Resize your images to the appropriate size before uploading them to your website.
iii. Compress your images.
2. Enable browser caching.
Browser caching allows the browser to store copies of your website’s files locally. The browser does not have to download the files from your server whenever a visitor visits your website.
i. Set expiration headers.
Expiration headers tell the browser how long to cache your website’s files. You can set expiration headers for individual files or entire directories.
ii. Use a caching plugin.
iii. Use a CDN.
A CDN (content delivery network) can help deliver your website’s files quickly and efficiently to visitors. CDNs are networks of servers that distribute data from a source to users within proximity.
For example, a blogger in San Francisco can use a CDN in Africa to quickly load their web pages for people accessing the website from Africa. Instead of loading directly from San Francisco, they load from the CDN server in Africa.
3. Minimize HTTP requests.
Every time a browser loads a web page, it has to send a separate HTTP request for each file. This can add up, especially for pages with many images or other resources.
To improve page speed for your website, you have to reduce these requests by:
ii. Using a CSS preprocessor
A CSS preprocessor can help you write more efficient and organized CSS, leading to fewer CSS files and HTTP requests.
iii. Using a CDN
A CDN can reduce the number of HTTP requests by delivering your website’s files from multiple servers worldwide.
To effectively use a content delivery network (CDN), you have to make sure that:
- You choose a CDN that is reliable and has a good track record.
- Your CDN supports your needed features, such as WebP and HTTP/2.
- You configure your CDN to deliver your website’s files from the server closest to your visitors.
These steps will enable the best possible use of your CDN.
4. Enable GZIP compression.
To enable GZIP compression, you will need to configure your web server.
Most web servers support GZIP compression by default, but you may need to check your documentation to see how to enable it.
Once you’ve enabled GZIP compression, your web server will automatically compress all supported files before sending them to users’ browsers.
This strategy can reduce the size of your web pages by almost 70%, resulting in significant speed improvements.
5. Minimize render-blocking resources.
To minimize render-blocking resources, you can try the following:
i. Load CSS files in the head of the HTML document.
This will allow the browser to start rendering the page content sooner.
Many plugins and tools are available to help you minimize render-blocking resources.
6. Use lazy loading.
Lazy loading is a technique that defers the loading of images and other embedded resources until they are needed.
This can improve page load times by preventing the browser from waiting for all the resources to load before rendering the page.
This library will automatically defer loading images and other embedded resources until needed.
7. Optimize server response time.
Server response time is the time it takes for your web server to generate and send a response to a user’s request.
Server response time can be affected by several factors, including:
- your web server configuration,
- the number of concurrent users,
- the complexity of your web pages, etc.
Here are some things you can do to optimize server response time:
- Use a caching plugin to store static resources locally on the user’s browser.
- Use a content delivery network (CDN).
- Optimize your database queries.
- Optimize your server configurations.
- Use a lightweight web server.
8. Reduce redirects.
Redirects occur when a user visits one URL but is automatically sent to another URL.
Redirects can cause pages to load more slowly, especially if multiple redirects are in a chain.
To reduce redirects, you should:
- Use canonical URLs to tell Google which URL is the preferred version of a page.
- Eliminate unnecessary redirects from your website.
- Fix any broken redirects.
9. Minimize third-party scripts.
Third-party scripts are loaded from other websites, such as social media widgets and analytics scripts.
Third-party scripts can slow down your website because your browser needs to download and execute them before your page can load.
To minimize third-party scripts, you should:
- Only use third-party scripts that are essential to your website.
- Load third-party scripts asynchronously so they don’t block the rendering of your page.
- Use a content delivery network (CDN) to serve third-party scripts.
10. Prioritize critical rendering path.
The critical rendering path is the sequence of resources that must be loaded and executed for a web page to start rendering.
By prioritizing the critical rendering path, you can ensure that the most important parts of your page load quickly.
To prioritize the critical rendering path, you should:
- Inline critical CSS in your HTML.
- Use lazy loading for images.
11. Optimize above-the-fold content.
Above-the-fold content is the content that is visible to the user without having to scroll down.
By optimizing above-the-fold content, you can ensure that users have a good first impression of your website and that they can start interacting with your content as quickly as possible.
To optimize above-the-fold content, you should:
- Keep the amount of above-the-fold content to a minimum.
- Use clear and concise fonts.
- Use a readable font size.
Following the tips in this blog post can help to improve your website’s page speed quickly, leading to a better user experience, higher conversion rates, and improved search engine rankings.
Optimize your images, reduce HTTP requests, enable browser caching, and use a content delivery network (CDN) to improve your page speed.
Suppose you need help figuring out how to start and where to start. In that case, several tools and plugins are available to help you optimize your website’s page speed, like Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool, to test your page speed and get personalized recommendations for improvement.