How Does Page Speed Affect SEO?
Page speed is one of those facets of web development that we tend to forget until we’re frustrated waiting for a page we need to finish loading. Somehow, even a 404 error seems less infuriating than watching a progress bar slowly crawl across the screen. In terms of SEO however, page speed can mean the difference between page 1 and oblivion in terms of SERP rank. All your efforts to deliver compelling content and earn backlinks will get you nowhere if your page speed frustrates users and obstructs search engine bots.
What is Page Speed?
Page speed is essentially the amount of time it takes your webpage content to load for a user, including images, text, hyperlinks and more. Page speed and site speed may seem like the same thing, but they are different. Site speed refers to the amount of time it takes your site to load as a user browses through it. Site speed concerns removing obstacle to conversions so that users transition to client through shopping carts and contact forms effortlessly.
Just like backlinks and content, web page speed is another factor in the ranking algorithm used by Google. If a page is takes too long to load, it will negatively affect the crawl budget for your site because it reduces the number of pages a bot can crawl in a given time period. On top of this, pages with long load times can lead to higher bounce rates since people may get frustrated and leave your website. This will hurt your site in the long-run as the bounce rate affects your ranking as well.
How Can I Improve My Page Speed?
Improve Browser Caching
Tools like YSlow allow you to see if your current cache has a set expiration date and can give you options to change expiration dates. This allows you to have the cache stored for a longer period, which delivers increased page speed to the user . Most of the time, if your design doesn’t change frequently, one year is a good amount of time before the cache expires. However, websites that are constantly changing, like forums or ecommerce pages, should refresh their cache sooner to display the most accurate content to their visitors.
Large images left uncompressed can slow down your page speed significantly. To counter this, make sure you compress images for the web into either PNG or JPG format. PNG is better for images with less than 16 colors (logos), while JPG is better for photographs. Most image editing software has this ability, and it may be a good idea to create image templates for buttons or icons that are used frequently on your website. Using CSS sprites, you can combine images to load at the same time, rather than one by one.
Compress Your Files
Reduce Page Redirects
The more redirect chains you have for a page, the longer it will take to load the final webpage. This is because the HTTP request-response cycle has to complete every time a redirect is placed, so the more redirects you have, the more cycles the user must wait through. Try to keep redirect chains minimal to reduce slow loading speeds.
Utilize a Content Distribution Network
CDN’s or content distribution networks are servers that are located all over the world that can store your website information. This way, users that are closer to the CDN server rather than the host server will get their data from there. This allows for better page loading speed as the ping and download speeds would be faster. For webpages that are only for certain regions (say a law firm webpage or a Bakery), this may not be necessary.
Using these techniques will help improve your page speed and improve your user experience. Search Engine Algorithms are designed to measure the quality of your site for users, so improving the experience for users will help your rank.