Google and page speeds

Google has indicated that the page speeds across your website (site speed) is now being used to rank your website in their algorithm. If your website is slow to load then you will be penalised for this.

Since we looked at mobile page speeds last year, the average time it takes to fully load a mobile landing page has dropped by seven seconds. The bad news is that it still takes about 15 seconds, according to our new analysis. That’s far too slow when you consider that 53% of mobile site visits leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. Results from Google

So you have 3 SECONDS to captivate your audience and answer “all” their questions before they leave.

What is page speed?

Page speed, or page load time, is the time it takes to fully display your content (images and wording) on a specific page from the first click to the final load.

Google has a great tool for you to evaluate your page speeds – Google PageSpeed Insights

Google’s PageSpeed Insights analyses the content on a specified page and suggests how to make it faster.

How to increase your page speed

There are many ways to increase page speeds, these are just a few that we, and Google recommend:

  1. Optimise Images
    Make sure your images are unnecessarily large. Make sure they’re not bigger than necessary and that they’re the right format (PNG, JPEG, etc) and keep them to 72dpi. Software like photoshop helps you select the exact size, dpi and lower the resolution with a sliding scale from 1-100 you can then manually check you are happy with the quality. For iconsm, buttons and logos use CSS sprites, they save time by only loading 1 image. Don’t rely on HTML to resize images, the page will still be loading the entire image, even if you see it at the smaller size.
  2. Enable compression
    Reduce the size of your css, html and javascript.
  3. Minify CSS, Javascript and HTML
    Optimise the code of your website! Some files may be incredibly large, websites can have over 10,000 lines of code. You can minify code by taking out spaces, unnecessary characters or even comments, formatting and unused code. This will increase your page speed dramatically. We advise that you seek advice from your developer before making changes to code.
  4. Reduce redirects
    Every time your customer faces a redirect it adds a little extra time, this is whilst the browser creeps through the old change of URL requests.
  5. Remove render-blocking JavaScript
    If your browser encounters a script during it’s loading process, it will stop and execute it before it can continue to load the page. These are things like CSS and Javascript. You can choose to partially load CSS before the page has loaded and get the script to complete at the end of the content loading.
  6. Leverage browser caching
    Browsers cache lots of information such as the page styling and images. This is so when a visitor comes back to your website it doesn’t have to reload the entire page. You can choose the expiration date for caching, so if you update your website often then you may want it to expire often.
  7. Server response times
    A server response time is affected by your traffic, the resources each page uses, the software your server uses and your hosting solution. There are lots of way to improve the server response time it’s definitely something you will want to speed to your hosting provider about if you think this is affecting your pages. The optimal server response time is under 200ms.
  8. Tidy up!
    Deleted unused or deactivated plugins. They take up valuable space. The same goes for your image library.
  9. Prioritise you content
    Make sure that your most important content is nearer the top of the page so that it is loading first.
  10. Embedded media
    External videos, like from YouTube, Vimeo, etc, are fantastic content which will engage your visitors but they can lower your loading time. Essentially your page is loading and then the original medias page is loading too and if their server is really slow then it will add time to your page. The same goes for embedded images. It would be better to load the media onto your server. If the media’s website is removed then your page will look broken. Your website can also be penalised if a website you are linking too has a hack on!
  11. Too many adverts
    Not only will this be bad for UX for visitors, it will also slow your page down.

What about the users?

Page speed is not all about what Google thinks (believe it or not!) but it’s also about your visitors. We all expect things to load instantly. If your website takes longer than 3s do you think your customers would wait? Would you wait when you have hundreds of other options online? The answer is probably not.

Unless someone is specifically coming to your website to find out about you then it is quite likely they will bounce, or leave, your website sooner. Slow loading web pages are very likely to affect your conversions negatively as well.

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