For this article, 1st on the list sat down with Michael, our technical website SEO specialist, to pick his brain about website page speed optimization.
In a digital world, every business owner is on the lookout for ways to stand out and increase their digital marketing ROI. But before you start thinking about SEO and conversion rates, you need to ensure your website is performing at its highest calibre.
That begins with page speed optimization.
Michael brings over two decades of experience in the Web Development and Search Engine Optimization field. We sat with him to get the skinny on website page speed optimization and why it matters for your business.
Read on for the comprehensive guide to speeding up your website and moving the needle on your digital marketing goals.
What Is Website Page Speed Optimization?
Now before we get into all the juicy details, we should probably explain what it is we’re talking about.
Page Speed Optimization is a major component of website performance optimization. Luckily, it’s all in the name: Website page speed optimization is all about getting a web page to load faster.
As we know, speed is the name of the game when it comes to digital experiences. The faster a web page loads, the better the user experience will be. The better the user experience, the more likely visitors will take action or be coming back for more.
What Are The Benefits of Website Page Speed Optimization?
1. Happy Visitors
There’s nothing more frustrating than a slow website. There are a lot of outlets competing for a user’s attention, and if your website isn’t up to snuff, you can bet they’ll leave in search of greener pastures.
Data has shown that around 88.5% of visitors say that the main reason they leave a website is because of slow loading pages (review42.com). This is especially true if the website isn’t mobile friendly. A quick and speedy website reduces bounce rate and increases time spent on a page. Both factors enhance user satisfaction, loyalty, and sales.
2. Faster Indexing
If you want to be indexed, you need a crawlable website. Search engines, like Google, use bots (also known as spiders) to crawl through website content and add the information they find to their index. Faster load times means more efficient page crawling, which leads to better quality indexation.
Fast indexing is especially important for e-commerce websites that may have thousands of pages. If you want those pages to show up in search results, you need fast indexing. This has become even more important thanks to Google updates like the ‘Shopping’ search result tab. Want your products to be the first a user sees? Better speed up that page indexing!
3. Higher Search Rankings
When was the last time you went to the second page of Google? That’s what we thought. To be discovered on the first page, your website page speed needs to be fast enough to rank highly in search results. When ranking web pages, Google’s algorithm takes user behaviour into account. This means that they look at bounce rates and time spent on a page.
Websites with fast load speeds offer a better user experience. Google looks to these factors when determining website value. If people are spending more time on your website, that shows Google that it provides value, which means you have a better chance of ranking highly in the SERPs.
4. Improved ROI
Increasing website visitors may be one of your digital marketing goals, but the ultimate objective of any digital strategy is to turn those visitors into paying customers. One study shows that you can boost your conversion rate by up to 74% (techjury.net) by simply improving your site speed from 8 seconds to 2 seconds.
If you’re investing time and money into your SEO strategy, then you want to see a payoff. Improving your web page load speed is one of the simplest and cost-effective ways to boost your ROI.
Make your website an enjoyable place to be and watch the conversation rate follow.
What Is Page Load Speed?
In the technical sense, page load speed (or website page speed) refers to how quickly a web page loads in any given browser. Google recommends that a page should load within 4 seconds on Desktop or Tablets, and within 2.5 seconds on Mobile. An ideal benchmark is anything less than 2 seconds. Anything slower means user experience will suffer, and so will your bottom line.
Not convinced yet? Then consider that Google discovered that if the time it takes to render a page takes even a half a second more, traffic can drop by as much as twenty percent. That’s 1 in 5 users choosing to walk away from a search! To think about it in dollars, Amazon discovered that an extra 1 second lag was equal to a loss of $1.6 billion in annual sales!
Panicking? Take a deep breath.
Here is an example of just a few of the optimizing tasks our team can do to speed up your website:
- Minimize DNS lookups
- Avoid bad requests
- Leverage browser caching
- Optimize images
- Optimize caching
- Improve server response time
- Enable compression
- Minify CSS
- Optimize browser rendering
- Minimize request overhead
Why Does Page Speed Matter?
Was that Amazon statistic not enough for you? Kidding… sort of. Aside from cannibalizing your ROI, website page speed matters for 2 big reasons:
- User experience
- On page SEO performance
Nobody wants to wait around for a website to load. If a user clicks on your website, only to stare at a blank loading page, then they’re going to hit that back button faster than you can say “gone”. Back to the Search Engine Result pages they go, and away into the arms of your competitors.
If being jilted wasn’t bad enough, a high bounce rate also hurts your SEO. Google will read this user activity as indication that something is wrong on your website, which drops your page rank and effectively puts a bullet between the eyes of your SEO efforts.
Now that we’ve provided you with an overview, here is what Michael had to say!
Q: How important is website page speed for SEO?
Michael: Back in 2018, Google officially confirmed that the page speed is used as a ranking factor for the mobile search results. Since speed is a ranking factor, this impacts the overall SEO performance of a web page.
Improving page speed can have a big effect on your website’s SEO and Google ranking. Page speed is also important for creating a positive user experience, which is a critical piece of SEO.
Q: How often do clients come to you for page speed optimization?
Michael: It’s probably one of the most common issues we have to fix. I find that a lot of the time, a client’s website was built without SEO in mind and was never optimized for speed or performance.
Here at 1st on the List, we always build websites to be search engine friendly and highly optimized for speed and performance. We begin with a web and technical SEO audit whenever we get a new client, and the first thing we look for are performance issues. Our goal is to get their SEO performance back on track, and it always starts with page load speed.
Q: What is a good website page speed?
Michael: We test website pages with Google Insights and always check both the mobile and desktop results. The goal is for your results to be in the green zone with a rating of 90 or higher.
Q: How does page speed impact bounce rate?
Michael: Slower speeds mean users are waiting around for a page to load, and that’s when we see an increase in the bounce rates as users leave. The faster the page loads, the lower the bounce rate, and the more time users spend on your website.
Q: How does website page speed impact conversion rate?
Michael: A slow load speed impacts the user experience, which in turn affects the conversion rate. Users will leave a website if pages take too long to load, which means they won’t make any purchases.
Q: What are your top tips for page speed optimization for SEO?
Michael: Here are some tips for a faster page load speed that will positively impact your SEO:
- Use a high performing, optimized website host
- Compress all your images
- Use a reliable caching plugin on your site
- Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network) for all your images and files
- Use a fast and optimized page theme for your site
- Do not overload your website with too many plugins & keep the ones you have updated
- Focus on great UX (user experience) and speed
Q: What are some of your favourite speed testing tools?
Q: Can you check website page speed in Google Analytics?
Michael: Google Analytics is a great tool. You can check your web page speed by going to:
Behaviour -> Site Speed -> Page Timing
Here is where you can view the average page load time. You can use filters to see more details and gain additional insights. The data is meant to be self-explanatory and as with other tools, the lower the page load time, the better.
Q: How do I increase page speed in Shopify?
Michael: The most common issue with Shopify stores is using large, unoptimized images and/or video. The easiest way to fix this is by optimizing and compressing your images. Using .webp formats as opposed to .jpg or .png will help too.
If you already have a lot of images uploaded to your website, you can use one of the many Shopify apps that helps with image compression. However, make sure you’re not using too many Shopify apps at the same time because that can bog down your site and increase website page speed load times.
Q: What are your tips for evaluating website page speed and why is it important?
Michael: It’s important to evaluate your page load speed regularly because the best-looking site in the world won’t help your business if it takes too long to load.
Here are a few tips for maintaining fast load speeds:
- Check tools regularly (weekly or monthly) to evaluate your website’s speed and performance
- Make sure you always optimize your images before uploading them to your website
- Avoid using too many plugins or apps (they all add to the load time)
- Use optimized website hosting
Q: Can I use Google page speed plugins for my WordPress website?
Michael: Google Page Speed Insights is great to use on your website. Check it regularly to stay on top of your website performance. Another great place to look is Google Search Console under the Page Speed tab. You can find insights for your pages, their load speeds, along with any other performance issues that need to be addressed.
Remember, while it’s important to check the speed regularly, you need to also implement the suggestions made by these tools to make timely corrections so that the page speed is always in the green zone.
Q: Are there any mobile page speed testing tools?
Michael: Google Page Speed Insights has two tabs to show you both the mobile and desktop results.
Q: What are your predictions for page speed optimization in the future?
Michael: I believe website page speed optimization will continue to play a very important role in website development and SEO in the future. A slow load time is a surefire way to lose website visitors. The faster your pages load, the better the user experience, and the better your SEO.
Ready To Get Speedy?
Does your website page speed need a little help?
Our team of SEO specialists would love to help audit your website and speed up your load times for a better user experience.