It’s 2020. Here’s why site speed matters in SEO, and how to make it faster
Did you know that a 1 second delay in full loading time for your website can lead your website to 16% fewer satisfied customers, 11% less page views and 7% reduced conversions?
That’s the results of a recent study this year, and that’s the crux of why site speed matters in SEO.
A search engine’s primary aim is to provide the best answer to a user’s query.
This takes into account the user experience of the site the answer is held on.
Put simply, if a page offers the most relevant answer to a search query, but the user experience is poor, it’s unlikely it will rank well.
This is especially true if there are a lot of competitors trying to rank for a specific query.
When a site similar to yours is offering the same information, but their page loads seconds faster than yours, they’ll outrank you.
That’s why it’s absolutely crucial that your website is optimised for site speed. We’ll break down 10 things that could be slowing down your website, and how to make websites load faster.
Why is my website slow to load?
Who hosts your website, your software and hardware can both affect how fast your site loads. But here are some of the big reasons why your website speed could be slower than it should be.
- Poor server performance
When someone clicks onto your website, your browser sends a nudge to the server. It asks for everything it needs to load up the website for the user. Everything else on your website might be running as fast as possible.
But if your server takes seconds too long, this could be causing your site to load slower than it should, which will lead to a high bounce rate. A slow page speed could leave your users frustrated, and likely to click off your site, which leads to a high bounce rate.
Recommend solution? Make sure you invest in a high-quality server, to ensure you’re not being held back by slow performance. Otherwise, it could be costing you conversions, and all-important ROI.
- Bad server location
When your site visitors are on your website, their browser is essentially sending multiple requests each time they take an action on site, to your server.
So, if the majority of your users are located in the UK, and your server is based overseas, the data is likely to be slower to connect the user to reach the data on site than if your server was in the same country as your target audience.
Recommend solution? Although Google is becoming more intelligent at connecting severs in different countries, we’d suggest choosing the right server location for your users to optimise their user experience.
- Uncompressed images
Did you know that images can account for 21% of your site’s weight, according to the HTTP Archive? That means if your images are too big, this could be the reason your site is taking too long to load. You can run a site speed test to check how fast your images are actually coming through, or you can check this manually on your website.
It’s important to get the balance right between the quality of your images and the size of them.
See the example below from Kinsta. You don’t want to damage the user experience by uploading a really blurry image, for the sake of compressing it.
Recommend solution? Compress your images so that they’re a smaller file size on a staging website, and double check you’re happy with the quality. Re-test the site speed. If it makes a noticeable difference, then you’re free to go live.
- Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A CDN works like a whole range of servers that are all connected across the world. That means users in a particular country can access the servers that are geographically closer to them, making their site run faster.
So, as the name suggests, it helps to deliver the content faster to your user.
You can see how this looks, in the explanatory image by GTMetrix.
Recommended solution? So, we know that a website that uses a CDN is likely to be faster than without. But they can be costly to implement. So, if you’re short on funds, don’t worry. We’ll go through some more handy ways you can speed up your website.
- Minify & combine files
Also, to make file sizes smaller and faster, you can use minification tools. These compress your code by reducing the number of characters in the file. You may be able to use a CMS plugin.
Recommended solution? Investigate whether it’s feasible to minify and/or combine your files, and then re-test your site speed.
Hopefully you feel more clued up about why site speed matters in SEO. But if you just don’t know where to start or you have questions about how to improve website speed, get in touch with our SEO specialists.