How Does Page Speed Impact SEO?
Why? Google wants to return high quality search results to their users. They don’t want to waste their users’ time. That’s why their search algorithms consider several factors, including how authoritative a site is (so that people will find the site useful) and how quickly the site loads (so they don’t lose interest and leave).
Improving your site’s speed can go a long way towards improving your SEO. If you pay for search rankings, your competitors may increase spending to match you, forcing you to spend more and so on. For most businesses, this just isn’t worth it. But if your website speed is better than your competitors’, you may rank above them in a way that they can’t beat without making some changes to their sites.
Some industries have several big companies paying for placement, such as apparel. But apparel companies that don’t advertise on Google can still thrive because consumers will look past the first page of search results looking for something new to them and interesting. If you’re a small or medium-sized fish in a big pond, you can still compete by improving your SEO so that you can rank above the other little fishies.
Testing Your Page Speed
The speed of straight forward pages that display content can be tested with free tools like Dotcom-Monitor’s Website Speed Test and Google PageSpeed Insights. Just as the name implies, Google PageSpeed Insights will suggest changes to your site that can speed up your page load time.
These tools are a great place to start. If your page speed isn’t up to scratch in these basic tests, you need to make some improvements.
The next step is to see how your page speed is affected by heavy traffic. This is necessary even if your site passed the basic tests with flying colors. If your site slows down on a busy day, that will impact your SEO and your bottom line. Commercial load testing solutions like Dotcom-Monitor’s LoadView or open-source load testing software like Apache JMeter can test how your page speed is impacted by a realistic amount of site visitors performing a variety of tasks.
Any load testing solution worth using will provide reports that will help you find and fix the parts of your site that are causing the slowdowns. Since load testing allows for testing complicated processes like site registration or checkout, you can take this opportunity to test the speed of pages that you can’t check with a more basic tool like Website Speed Test.
Improving Your Page Speed
There are several things you can do to make your web pages load more quickly. The fastest web host you can afford is always a good idea. If you use shared web hosting, heavier than normal traffic on another site can slow yours down. Shared hosting is an economical option, but your business may outgrow it.
Some fixes will require you to implement new procedures, but the effort is worth it. Best practices for optimizing website performance include optimizing and resizing images before uploading them to the site, stripping out extraneous code when copying and pasting from a word processing program, researching the fastest plugins for each task and considering page speed when designing new features.