What is Website Load Speed and How it Affects SEO
Did you know that having a slow website load speed will not only result in more potential customers clicking away from your site before they’ve even seen it, but it will also negatively affect your ranking on Google search page results?
And these days both website visitors and Google expect your website to load faster than ever before.
So What Is Website Load Speed?
Your website load speed is the time it takes for your page to load after someone tries to view your website. This could be by entering your url into their browser or clicking a link either from a paid ad, from search results, from social media posts or from links on other websites.
Every extra second that it takes for your website to load up all the content and images of a specific page reduces the quality of the user experience and therefore the profitability of your website.
Why Does This Affect SEO?
Google wants to give its users the most relevant content and most efficient ways of finding the information and products they are searching for. So when your website takes too long to load Google sees this as a bad experience for their users and will stop sending traffic to your site by lowering your ranking.
On the other hand when you have a fast website load speed visitors can quickly find the information and products they are searching for in Google and for this you will be rewarded with higher Google search rankings and more traffic to your website.
How To Check Your Website Load Speed?
It’s important to check your website load speed regularly, because even small changes to your website can affect your results.
Google offers a simple tool that shows you how to check your website load speed for both desktop and mobile versions of your website.
How to Improve Website Load Speed
The faster your website loads the better user experience you’ll provide to visitors, the higher Google will rank your website in search listing and the more traffic, leads and sales you will make.
And when you look closely even the smallest improvements in website load speed can have dramatic affects on your sales and revenue.
So once you have run the test on your website as mentioned above, here are some guidelines to show how your website compares to what today’s internet users expect.
Below 1 second = perfect
1-3 seconds = above average
3-7 seconds = average
7+ seconds = very poor
If you’re below 3 second GREAT! (but you can still improve by following the steps below.)
If your website load speed is 3 seconds or above then you have some work to do. But the good news is you can get some big improvements by implementing a few techniques.
So below I have explained how to improve website load speed using the best practices for SEO purposes.
Deactivate Or Remove Plugins You Don’t Need
The number and quality of Plugins and Addons you have installed on your website has a huge impact on your load speed. In fact removing unnecessary plugins is generally the first thing I look at when investigating how to improve page load speed for my clients websites.
The impact of plugins and addons becomes even more noticeable if you are using a blogging CMS such as WordPress, Drupal or Joomla.
When you enable caching on your website it allows for a version of your site to be stored on a visitors browser. This means that next time they visit your website files will not have to be downloaded from your server and your page load speed will be much faster.
For WordPress websites there are a number of good caching plugins such as WP Total Cache or WP Super Cache, that make it quick and easy to enable caching on your website.
Reduce Image Sizes
When DIY website owners start researching how to improve website load speed, optimising and reducing image sizes is generally one of the first this they’ll try. This often has an immediate impact and is a great place to start.
First you want to check your current images and see how large the the file sizes are. If any of them are over 1Mb or even 500kb you will want to reduce them using a plugin such as WP Smush or EWWW Image Optimizer.
Select An Optimised WordPress Theme
The theme you use can have big impact on your page load speed. So when choosing a theme you want to consider performance not just aesthetics. If you’re not sure if your theme uses optimised code it’s best to have a professional check your theme for you.
Make Sure You Don’t Have Any Broken Links
Optimise Your Database Regularly
If using a CMS such as WordPress, which rely heavily on database usage, you need to regularly optimise your databases.
The reason being that new data is constantly saved on your databases which means over time your website will automatically get slower and slower. A great plugin to help optimise your database on WordPress sites is WP-Optimize.
Enable Gzip Compression
Enabling Gzip is a fast and effective way to compress your website files into a zip files so they load faster on your visitors browser.
By adding the following code into your .htaccess file: You will enable Gzip on your site
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
# Or, compress certain file types by extension:
You can check whether you have entered the code to enabled Gzip correctly on your site by going to Gziptest.com.
The above tasks are some of the first things you want to implement when learning how to improve website load speed. Though there are also many other tricks that SEO experts and web developers use to improve website load speed even further.
The important thing to remember is that optimising your website load speed is not a one-off task and needs to be checked and optimised regularly as every time you add a plugin, update your site or add new content it can affect your load speed.
Our team of professionals can provide specific recommendations on how to improve your website load speed and offer website load speed monitoring and optimisation as part of our affordable monthly packages.