Improving your website performance with page speed SEO can effectively boost your search rankings and create a better user experience overall.
Slow-loading website pages can be frustrating for your customers–but did you know that they also can hurt your Google ranking?
It’s true. Not only are users annoyed when a page seems to take forever to load, often clicking away before they successfully load the content, but Google now ranks sites by page experience ranking signals. Remember, Google wants to show useful sites to searchers, so it will reward sites that are quick to load and full of relevant information.
As for customers leaving when website pages won’t load, the data is clear: a slow-loading site will hurt your bottom line. Nearly 70 per cent of consumers say page speed affects their willingness to buy from an online retailer, according to Unbounce.
When it comes to SEO, ensuring your website pages load quickly and smoothly can help your target audiences find you and successfully enjoy the experience once they do.
Website design isn’t just what a customer sees when they visit a URL online, though appearance is a big draw for people once they find your website. There is also user experience (UX) or site performance to worry about, as well as how Google ranks your site based on signals it measures that help it assess the likely experience of a user who finds your site.
The sizes of all these files add up to your total page size. If your site has pages with a lot of large files, especially image files, these pages may load slowly and take several seconds longer to bring up everything you want a user to see.
How does page size affect conversion?
You may have heard of a site being too “big” or “bloated” for quick loading–these are typically used to describe pages that have a lot of large files. They can be a conversion killer. For example, as the number of elements on a page goes from 400 to 6000, the probability of conversion drops by a staggering 95 per cent, according to Google. This includes text, titles, images, and all the other files that make up your page.
Pro tip: there is a difference between your raw page size and your download page size. If you were to add up all the uncompressed files used to create your page, the total size would be larger than what size it is when compressed for download by a server.
Customers are used to hopping online or onto their mobile devices to quickly search for a company or brand they’re curious about. Many will even complete purchases online as long as they can:
a) find what they’re looking for, and
b) access the website to complete that transaction smoothly.
If these users don’t find your website when they search, they won’t be visiting your site. This is how page size and page loading speed affect your Google ranking, making it increasingly important to optimize your page’s load time. According to Google, “speed equals revenue.”
If they do find you and the website page they click on is slow to load, they’re likely to move on to the next option on the list. This means that site performance once someone finds your site is vital to them actually staying on your site long enough to take the next step toward becoming a customer.
The average global download speed for mobile is 33.97 Mbps, while the average global fixed broadband speed is 74.54 Mbps, according to Speedtest Global Index. You can manually check a page’s total size within Google Chrome using DevTools.
While these measurements get into web development tools and tricks you may not use daily, the knowledge of what affects page size and download speed is powerful. For marketers, this means paying attention to how a website is built and what elements are included on each page. It also highlights the importance of implementing page size SEO tips and tricks to ensure you aren’t turning your online customers away.
When you begin to understand how design choices and backend development affect your bottom line, you can have more insightful conversations with your web development team. Together, you can create a powerful website that will perform well, reach your audiences, and drive better results for your business.
There are many factors that can influence page speed, including the device being used, the web browser, the web hosting provider, and the files that make up the content on the page. Some of these may not be within your control, but the ones you can improve are worth the effort.
Review your hosting package
If you have a website for your business, you have a hosting provider who likely has you on a hosting plan to handle whatever bandwidth is needed for your website. If you’re experiencing slow loading times, check in with your hosting provider to see if your hosting package is still appropriate for your website. It may cost a little more, but it may be necessary to ensure users see your site and that it loads efficiently for them.
Ensure your website design is responsive
A mobile-friendly website is a must as people rely more heavily on devices for their online shopping and research. Responsive design ensures that when someone visits your website from a mobile device, Google will show them a version of the site that will load quickly and be easy to navigate.
Image files are some of the worst offenders when it comes to file size. If your website is full of pages with multiple images, your site may be slow to load for customers. Each of these image files should be compressed or resized to reduce the page size. You can even speed up your remaining image files by using CSS sprites, which allow you to combine a collection of images into one image file. This approach can help servers handle your image files more efficiently.
Clean up messy code
Over time, your website may have accumulated unnecessary code and comments that can slow down site performance. Before you optimize the remaining resources and files on your site, remove anything that is no longer relevant or used on your website. This could mean removing unused plugins and other elements that were added in the past.
Through a process called minification, you can remove unnecessary data from your site. Minifying resources can help get rid of redundant data that could be slowing down your site. When done correctly, the resource will still be processed properly by a browser, simply more efficiently.
Avoid custom fonts
As appealing as it sounds to have a custom font on your website, these can make your pages heavy and slow loading. They’re not likely to be worth the trade-off in page size, so review these types of design choices carefully.
Assessing your page size is an essential step in SEO, affecting both site performance and Google ranking. These two areas dictate how many users see your pages in their search results and how many potential customers find your business. Making positive changes to optimize your website for quick loading times can have a big impact on the number of users you convert to customers.