If you’re looking to boost your site’s SEO ranking, improving your load speed is a great place to start. Google has said time and again the loading speed is one of the major factors that go into their search rank algorithm.
Your site can have extremely valuable content, expertly written header tags, and a solid list of valuable backlinks, but if your page load speed is slow, you still may struggle to get web traffic. Remember, Google seeks to provide the best experience for its users. Staring at a spinning wheel on a computer screen isn’t most people’s idea of a great online experience. Take a look at some of the things that affect your load time and what you can do to improve the speed on your site.
Run a Speed Test
Check to see what your site’s current speed is before you begin changes to improve speed. Be sure to test your site load speed across various browsers. Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and other browsers will load your page in varying ways. There are multiple page speed checkers you can use to audit site load time:
- Google Analytics Site Speed
You can use this tool if you have Google Analytics running on your page. You’ll need to navigate to the Content section in the dashboard, then Site Speed, and select Overview. Here you’ll find information on page load speed per specific browser, region, and page.
To view specific load information for each individual page, go to Page Timings under the Site Speed button. Here you’ll also be able to view bounce rate date and how it relates to your loading speed, as well as compare data across browsers and operating systems.
- Google’s PageSpeed Insights
PageSpeed Insights is a Google tool that performs a test of your site speed and computes a speed score. The score is determined on a scale of one to 100, with 100 being the shortest load times.
Top-tier sites, like Facebook and Twitter, have scores in the upper 90s. This tool will give you a good general idea of the speed health of your site and serve as a solid starting point for building your improvement strategy.
Along with your score, you’ll receive suggestions on what you should edit on your site. These suggestions are sorted into priority levels of high, medium, low, experimental, and completed. Each suggestion form PageSpeed Insights also comes with expanded details, which explain how these tweaks can be performed and how they correlate to Google’s Best Practices.
These Google tools are great assets to build out your strategy and to get a solid measure of your current page load speed and how to improve it.
How to Improve Page Load Speed
It doesn’t matter how much you tweak your code or streamline the design for load speed, if your server is slow, your page will be slow. If you can afford it, purchase high-quality hosting that doesn’t rely on shared server space. While this expenditure can be a bit more than the budget host, you’ll get more speed for your money. This initial load speed improvement is a solid foundation for other speed improvements on your site.
Streamline Your Analytics Code and Embeds
There are countless WordPress plugins and code embeds that perform analytics on your page and track user activity. While these programs can give web owners useful insight, they can also be cumbersome to run. You’ll want to keep your embedded tracking code simple and to a minimum.
It can be tempting to use as many of these analytic programs as possible in order to obtain massive amounts of user data, but only use what you need. Take a good look at any program that may be overkill or track a metric that some other code snippet covers. Get rid of any unnecessary analytics code to speed up your page.
Ensure that all content above your page fold loads the fastest. Place any analytics code that you decide to keep toward the bottom of the page. When visitors land on your site, they’ll still be able to see the page even if the code is still loading up.
Be wary of any embedded video included on your page. While video adds value in the form of content and engagement, it can also pull speeds down. Typical on-page embedded videos utilize iFrames. This format operates by essentially loading another page when you attempt to view the video, so use them sparingly.
Leverage Content Distribution
A content delivery network, or CDN, is a system of servers that works to distribute the bandwidth load of delivering your content evenly. CDNs store your content at various data points in different regions on the network, which results in quicker access to your site.
Clean Up Your Database
Chances are your site uses a database to store information. This is especially true if you operate an e-commerce store or blog or have an on-page search function. These large databases can become cumbersome and drastically increase your site's loading time.
Indexing makes your database operate much more efficiently. Without an index, your database must search through thousands of different data points and records. Indexing speeds up this process by allowing the database to find stored information quickly.
The size of your site may be slowing down your speed, especially if you're focusing on delivering valuable content on a consistent basis. Zipping your page's files through compression can prevent a bulky page from increasing load times.
You can do a quick Google search and find multiple compression tools online. These tools work to reduce the bandwidth of your site, which speeds up your page's HTTP response. Using compression can reduce your page's download time by 70%.
Optimizing your page for search results is hard work. It would be a shame to let all of the time spent on getting your site aligned for SEO go to waste. Always be thinking about how to improve your page's load speed.
Beyond the improved user experience that fast loading times deliver, page speed can also impact your site's conversion rates. Pages that load quickly also inspire a boost in customer confidence and trust.