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How Does Page Speed Affect SEO?

How page speed impacts your SEO and how to improve it

If you are a webmaster or just someone helping to maintain a website for an individual or business, you are probably well aware of what search engine optimization (otherwise known as SEO) is. You’re probably also well aware of how good SEO practices can help your site rank on the top pages of Google search results, which can help net you tons of free organic traffic directly for your niche, because people are already searching for the content anyway.

When thinking about the best practices for SEO, most webmasters and other people who work on the website may focus on things like keywords, long tail keywords, trending topics for their niche, tracking sources to see which traffic is coming from ads and which traffic is coming from organic sources, and much more. SEO is a wide range of areas to cover to make sure your site ranks well on Google search results.

Did you know that one of the things that can influence your search results ranking is also your page speed? Let’s elaborate a bit on this point, because it is one that not many webmasters think to address when considering search engine optimization.

What is Page Speed?

If you are not familiar with the term, you may be wondering just what “page speed” is. Page speed is, in essence, how fast or slow your website loads when it is queried up by a browser. If the content on your page loads fast, that is a great thing.

If it loads slowly, however, you will want to address some of the reasons why it may be loading slowly until it loads quickly again. This is because if people are left waiting too long for your site to load, they will leave your site to move onto another source of information. Research has shown that if people have to wait more than two or three seconds for a site to load, they will typically back out of it and find another one.

This is why maintaining a quick page speed is important, it will help people stay on your site, and it can also be a crucial factor for your SEO efforts and your site’s ranking on Google search results.

If you’re wondering how you may be able to check out your page speed, you can try using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. It incorporates data from the Chrome User Experience Report (known as CrUX), and it gives detailed reports on two of your most important metrics to measure. These are First Contentful Paint (also known as FCP) and DOMContentLoaded (also known as DCM).

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Using a Fast Page Speed to Boost Your SEO

Now that you know about page speed and how Google looks at it to determine your site’s ranking on search engine results, you may be wondering how you can make your site’s page speed and loading times even faster, which in turn will help your SEO and organic traffic.

It’s important to remember that your page speed not only is important to Google, but also to the people visiting your site for the first time. You want to make a good first impression on those visitors so they will keep coming back to your site, and slow loading times is not a good way to make a great first impression on those visitors.

Remember that your page speed is very important to the user experience of your site. People will spend fewer amounts of time on your site, and pages loading longer will drastically affect your bounce rate (which is how often people leave your site after navigating to it), and they also spend lower amounts of time than average on your pages. Google likes to see sites that have people spending longer amounts of time on the page.

The most important part of getting visitors to your site is to make sure you’re keeping those visitors on your site, so do everything you can to make sure you can keep their eyes glued to the page, which is something Google (and any reasonable webmaster out there) loves to see. 

Here are a few simple steps you can follow to boost your page speeds and help your site out in the SEO department:

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  • Use compression! You can use a tool like Gzip to compress your site’s files, which will reduce the size of the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files on your site. This can be a big help in making your site’s content load significantly faster.

 

  • Optimize your code elements. If you have a bit of custom HTML, CSS, or JavaScript code on your page, take a look at it. Is there any unused code that can be removed? Could it be formatted better? Are there any unnecessary comments in the code? These are all things to look at and address if necessary, because following clean coding practices can help to increase your site’s page speed.

 

  • Get rid of unneeded redirects. Every single time your site redirects to other pages, you are leaving your visitors waiting. No one likes to go through a whole bunch of redirects to wait for a simple page to load, and some people will just go elsewhere in search of content instead of waiting. Get rid of unnecessary redirects so your users will not have to wait on slow loading times.

 

  • Check out your server’s response time. Your server response time is mostly dependent on the amount of traffic your site gets, as well as the software your server runs and where it is hosted. The optimum server response time is around 200 milliseconds, so check out things like slow server queries, slower routing, and other problems, and address them as quickly as possible to maintain a fast server response time, which can help your SEO and user experience, as well.

 

  • Browser caching is your friend. Look into using browser caching for your site to ease up on load times. Browser caching helps by storing certain elements of your site directly in visitors’ browsers so that the next time they visit, the page load time will be drastically reduced because there simply won’t be so much to load. You can set expiration dates for your cache, and a good expiration date to go with is usually about a year after the first visit to your site unless you regularly change the design frequently.
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Optimize, Optimize, Optimize!

Now that you know some of the things you could be doing to improve your site’s page speed for better search engine optimization and ranking on Google, all you have to do is get out there and optimize! Identify any bottlenecks on your site that could be slowing it down, fix it, and then test it using different browsers and different devices, including mobile devices. This way, you’ll have an idea of how your site looks and loads on a variety of different browsers and machines.

The sooner you get out there and do everything you can to make sure your site’s page speed is fast as possible, the sooner you may start seeing better rankings for your site on Google search results, so get to it! Your SEO ranking (and your site’s visitors) will thank you graciously.

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