Yes. Google most definitely cares about your website speed.
There’s no magic dust that you can sprinkle over your servers to increase your site’s speed, so you need to understand why Google cares how fast your website loads, and what you can do about it.
Google’s search algorithm considers user experience and site quality when determining the order in which sites will appear in search results. Google has remained everyone’s favorite search engine by returning high quality results that are useful to their users. Gone are the days when you’d Google something and half the links on the first page would be to sites that loaded so slowly that it took you forever to figure out that they were all the same exact poorly-written article.
In addition to creating unique, high-quality content, you need to make sure your website speed is up to scratch. It’ll improve your SEO without having to pay an expert a small fortune.
What Can You Do About Your Website Speed?
Step One is finding out how fast your website actually is.
Dotcom-Monitor’s Website Speed Test can quickly test the loading speed of any web page. Doing poorly on this test indicates that you need to dig deeper.
Lucky for you, Google wants to help you succeed. Google PageSpeed Insights can test your website speed and suggest the exact improvements you should make. You can enter any URL and see how your competitors’ sites stack up while you’re at it. Your website doesn’t have to be the fastest site ever. But if you can make it faster than your competitor’s sites, your site may appear before theirs in search results.
What Changes Will You Have to Make?
The exact steps you’ll have to take to improve your website speed depends on where the problems lie. Google PageSpeed Insights will point you in the right direction. But there are a few best practices that everyone should follow to improve their site’s speed.
- Use the fastest web hosting company you can afford.
- Fix broken links. The resulting errors pile up and slow everything down.
- Resize your photos. If your photos are too big, a site visitor’s web browser will have to resize the photo while the page is loading, slowing things down.
- Rethink your plugins. They load separately from other page content, so using plugins only when necessary, and selecting the fastest plugin for the job will speed things up.
- Simplify your design. Clean, uncomplicated web design is visually appealing and loads quickly.
Is There More You Can Do?
Dotcom-Monitor’s Website Speed Test and Google PageSpeed Insights test how quickly your site loads for a single visitor. But your website speed can suffer when you receive a heavier amount of traffic than usual. Load testing can see how well your site handles a heavy load, and can tell you where the bottlenecks are and how to fix them.
Load testing solutions range from free open source software like Apache JMeter to commercial Software as a Service options like Dotcom-Monitor’s LoadView.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat
Updates to your website can slow it down, so test your website speed on a regular basis.