How Does Website Speed Affect SEO?

4 min read

Avatar Sophie Rizan

2nd May, 2019

Digital Agency,SEO,Technical SEO

What is Page Speed?

Amongst Google’s many algorithm factors, website speed and page speed is confirmed as one of the signals used by to rank pages in the search engine.

Page speed is a measurement of how fast the content on your page or website can load.

Research has shown that Google might be specifically measuring ‘time to first byte’ as a way of understanding your sites page speed. This is a specific measurement used to indicate the responsiveness of a web server, it measures the length of time it takes for the first byte of the page to be received by the client’s browser.

How Does Download Speed Affect Website Performance?

Well, this one is pretty self-explanatory – the slower your download speed, the worse your website will perform. A slow website is a conversion killer, fact.

In fact, 47% of consumers expect websites to load in two seconds or less — and 40% will abandon a page that takes three or more seconds.

If the speed is slow, then the webpage will take a lot of time to download and display the HTML documents and files. Sometimes images and media may not be able to load because of poor download speeds. This can have a negative impact on the user experience and can result in a higher bounce rate.

In fact, a one second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions!

Website speed, user experience and online conversions are all positively correlated with each other. It is proven that website speed and performance has a direct impact on user experience and conversions. 40% of people actually abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

In addition to slow page speed, it can also negatively affect your SEO. Search engines can crawl fewer pages using their allocated crawl budget, negatively affect your indexation.

Website Speed Test

If you’re unsure how your pages are performing, the following tools are useful ways to test your website.

  • Pingdom is a really easy to use page speed testing tool. Simply enter your URL, then select the location you want to test your site from.
  • GTMetrix – It shows an alternative overview of your websites speed and other data insights.
  • Page Speed Insights from Google’s developer tools is a great overall web performance tester and gives helpful recommendations.
  • Google Chrome User Experience Report provides user experience metrics for how  real-world Chrome users experience popular destinations on the web.
  • Think With Google is a fantastic tool to test mobile speed.

How To Speed Up WordPress Websites

Your website can stand out from the crowd just by simply loading quickly. 73% of mobile internet users say that they’ve encountered a website that was too slow to load.

Here are a few of our top performance-boosting site speed tips:

1. Reduce HTTP requests

80% of a Web page’s load time is spent downloading the different parts of the page, like images, stylesheets, videos, and scripts.

An HTTP request is made for each one of these elements to download, so the more on-page components, the longer it takes for the page to render. Simple right?

First things first, you need to understand your own website.

If you use Google Chrome, you can use the browser’s Developer Tools to see how many HTTP requests your site makes.

Right-click on the page you want to investigate, click “Inspect,” then click the “Network” tab. (If you don’t see the “Network” tab, you may need to expand the Developer Tools sidebar by dragging the left border to the left.)

Here, you’ll see a few columns. The “Name” column shows all of the files on the page, the “Size” column shows the size of each file, and the “Time” column shows how long it takes to load each file.

In the bottom left corner, you’ll also see the number of total requests the site makes.

You can see below, Digital Ethos’ homepage has 9 requests. Reducing this number of requests will speed up your site, look through your files and see if any are unnecessary or slow loading.

2. Minify, Combine & Compress Files

Now that you understand how many requests your site makes, you can further understand which files are needed, which can be scrapped and which can be combined.

Minifying a file involves removing unnecessary formatting, whitespace, and code.

Since every unnecessary piece of code adds to the size of your page, it’s important that you eliminate extra spaces, line breaks, and indentation. This ensures that your pages are as lean as possible.

There are a few plugins you can easily install on your WordPress site to do this for you, for example, WP Rocket, Hummingbird and Smush.

To compress files, you can active GZIP compression on your server.

We recommend reducing the size of image files before they are uploaded. Programs like Photoshop and Paint can easily do this for you, giving you control over the quality of the images.

3. Reduce Redirects & Broken Links

Every time a page redirects to another page, you risk your user waiting additional time for the page to load.

For example, if your redirect pattern looks like this: “example.com -> www.example.com -> m.example.com -> m.example.com/home,” each of those two additional redirects makes your page load slower.

You can find the number of redirects or broken links in your sitemap in Google Search Console. Simply click coverage and all errors will be listed here.

4. Reduce Server Response Time

When someone clicks on your site, it’s like turning the key in the engine of a car. Your visitor is asking your engine to start up.

The very first thing that happens is your browser (Google Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer etc) sends a message to your server, asking for all the information and data so it can load up your website.

If your server’s performance is poor, it will take longer to respond. No matter how quick everything else is, a slow server will always give you a slow start.

The physical location of your server will affect your websites load speed. When you click on a website, you send a message to the server. You ask it to load and it returns the information. If the server is in India for example, it will be fractionally slower than a local server.

The location isn’t the only factor affecting the server speed, but the amount of traffic visiting that server. If there are multiple large e-commerce websites on one server, there will be a lot of traffic. This will obviously slow down the load speed.

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