Nordin Trobradovic | 03/08/2020

What is Page Speed?

Page speed is the amount of time a website needs to completely load its content. Now let’s get more into the details. Most of the webmasters and developers can easily test the overall speed of any website. There are two factors by which the Pagespeed is defined: The time it takes to completely load the page content and the so-called “time to first byte” which describes the time the end-users browser takes to receive the “first byte” from the webserver.

Why is it so relevant?

When it comes to judging the performance of a website, page speed is one of the most important factors of an individual page. Your website’s evaluation won’t only be from the visitors but also search engines like Google or Bing. What could also negatively impact your indexation is the fact that search engines manage to crawl fewer pages in their allocated crawl budget if the site’s page speed is low. In the past few years, consumers expect prompt reactions on their devices and the media they’re consuming. In comparison: a few years ago the average user would have waited maybe 4-5 seconds for the website to load. Nowadays 47 of the users expect websites to load in two seconds or less. In addition to that, 40 of the people will bounce right off a page if it takes 3 or more seconds to load! So it is also a very important aspect of user experience.

How to improve my Page Speed?

CDN: Content Delivery Network or short CDN provides you access to hundreds of smaller servers across the globe that host a copy of your site, thereby massively reducing the time it takes to load your site by using the servers closest to your visitors’ locations.

Compression: Throughout the following recommendations, you will notice that smaller is generally better for page speed. That’s the case here as well. If you want a genuine, quick win when it comes to increasing page speed, you can compress files. To enable file compressing use Gzip, a software that reduces files that are larger than 150 bytes trough compression. It’s a very easy and popular way to increase your page speed. Do not use this Gzip for images. You can compress images by using photoshop and similar programs or plugins.

Leverage Browser Caching: Depending on the nature of your business, it’s very likely that users will make some touchpoints with your website before completing a conversion. In this case, it would make sense to enable caching your website. Many people still don’t know what browsers can do. Browsers are capable of caching information about your websites, such as images, meaning some elements of your website are saved on the users’ browser which enables a much faster loading time the next time the user is opening the website.

Disable Redundant Plugins: Are you using WordPress? A very quick way to increase your website speed is to disable all plugins which are no longer in use. Having many heavy plugins installed can reduce your page’s speed and performance radically. A problem that can be easily fixed by a quick audit of the plugins you have installed. Just delete anything unused!

Page speed & Word Press

Your website should load at least 90 of its visual content in about 100ms. That is the recommendation from Google. If not, it wouldn’t rank well and your traffic will drop. That’s why it’s essential to speed up your WordPress sites.

Reliable hosting: Why is a reliable hosting so important? Hosting can be compared to the foundation of a building. The furniture, the roof, the windows could all be high quality and wonderful, but if the foundation is poor, all this isn’t worth anything, right? The same idea applies to hosting. So make sure to choose the right hosting company as well as the right plan for your setup. Read more about it here.

Available Hosting Resources: When you do find a reliable hosting provider, be sure you also pick a sufficient plan that includes enough resources for your site. If your web site’s size and traffic is too large for your plan, you’re very likely to have intermittent outages. It can also cause a dramatic decrease in your page speed. So try to reduce your redirects, as every redirect slows down your page a bit. As a rule of thumb, if your site regularly reaches about 90 of your server’s assets, it’s time to upgrade your hosting plan.

The Number of Used Plugins: If you installed many plugins on your WordPress site, the chances are higher that your site is bloated, thereby using more of your hosting resources. If you have more than ten plugins, try to eliminate some. If you have plugins or themes installed that aren’t activated and you don’t plan on using, uninstall them. So, try to find alternatives that can cover the functions of two or more plugins you’re using. Always make sure you’re using high-quality, cleanly coded plugins – check their ratings!

Database Optimization: By cleaning up your database you can shrink the size of your page. Delete old draft content, post revisions, and spam. Great free options for optimizing your database are ”Optimize Database” , ” WP-Optimize”, and ”Advanced Database Cleaner” .

Remove Poor and Inefficient Code or Scripts: The same rules apply for code and scripts. Delete all inefficient code and find better alternatives. Remove spaces, commas, other unnecessary characters, comments, and unused formatting. You can run a code validation to check if it’s clean. A useful and free service here would be the W3C Markup Validation Service.

Optimize Images: Last but not least, large images will drastically bloat and slow down your page. Optimizing images mean decreasing their file size, but at the same time keeping a proper quality. Make sure to compress your images accordingly using photoshop or similar programs or plugins. Photographs should be saved as .jpg files, graphics & illustrations should be in .png or vector format and animations in .gif to provide the best results regarding quality and speed.

Popular tools to test your website’s page speed are Google PageSpeed Insights and GTMetrix.

Impact on SEO

As mentioned in the introduction, page speed is a very important element for Google’s algorithms and will drastically impact your search rankings. Keep Google’s statement in mind: ”Whoever uses Google gets an optimal experience with it”. Slow webpages are more likely to be penalized by Google’s ranking algorithms, as well as very negative user experience metrics such as bounce rate and average time on page, which Google also measures to determine the quality of a webpage. Additionally, page speed is crucial for users on mobile devices. Studies have shown that users on phones expect the website to load faster than users on a desktop. The speed of your website’s mobile version must be optimized to a maximum. Moreover, Google is indexing mobile sites first.