Speed Up Your Website (And Improve Your SEO And The UX At The Same Time)

Speed Up Your Website (And Improve Your SEO And The UX At The Same Time)

Speed Up Your Website (And Improve Your SEO And The UX At The Same Time)

What’s page speed got to do with your search rankings and the user experience (UX)?

Everything!

Slow pages, time out errors, and unavailable websites are frustrating for shoppers. Those kinds of problems will send your visitors bouncing to one of your competitors before your page even has a chance to load. On top of that, user signals like a high bounce rate and a low number of pages visited per session are associated with lower rankings in search — so problems with page speed are a double whammy for your business.

How fast do consumers expect a website to be? Two seconds is the start of what Google — and the average consumer — considers acceptable these days. However, Google prefers sites that are even faster and the ideal site will load in less than half a second.

Half a second to two seconds, folks, is all you have to keep a potential customer from bouncing. That’s how important page speed is to customer experience and your search rankings.

Here’s what you need to do.

Test Your Website’s Speed

Before you do anything else, you need to test your website’s speed — and this includes your speed on mobile. Thanks to the popularity of smartphones, mobile sites are fast overtaking desktop sites in importance for consumers. So, when you check your page speed, make sure that you run an analysis on both your desktop site and your mobile one for the best results.

Boostability offers a Free Website Score with easy-to-follow metrics about your website’s overall performance. You can also use it to compare your speed to the speed of your top competitors. If you want to rank high in search results, you need to aim for a score of 85 or 90 out of a 100. Using the site is as simple as typing in your URL, along with your name and contact information, and pressing enter.

Check out our tutorial on Google’s PageSpeed Insights, which is another free tool you can use. Add your URL to the bar provided and click the “Analyze” button to see a list of Optimization Suggestion tabs that will show you what needs work on your site. (Anything that’s already running at its best speed will be indicated.)

Take Steps To Clean Up And Speed Up Your Website

You can make many of the small changes that affect your site — and your bottom line — yourself. Here are six quick ways you can clean up your site and improve the overall user experience.

Remove unnecessary plugins.

Plugins are designed to enhance your website’s functionality, but they can also slow it down. Review your existing plugins using a tool like UsageDD or Performance Profiler to see which are slowing down your site. Remove or replace anything that’s hurting your loading times.

Fix broken links and remove redirects.

Screaming Frog offers an SEO Spider that will allow you to crawl your website the same way Google does and see where you have broken links and redirects that are impairing your load times.

Compress those JS files.

Javascript files can be chunky and they take up time to load. You can reduce the problem by “minifying” them. Put all your javascript in one file, delete any whitespace and make your files smaller. If you’re using WordPress, the WP Minify plugin will automatically do it for you.

Move your CSS to the top and the JS to the bottom.

The odds are good that you have CSS in between each of your pages. Browsers can’t render a page until they render all the CSS files — so put those at the top of your pages. Your Javascript, however, should be close to the bottom. JS files slow the complete loading of a page. Moving them to the end of your page makes this a non-issue.

Clean up your visuals.

Multiple videos and gifs can slow loading time to a crawl. Small images and uncluttered designs lead to a clean loading process. In addition, you probably have a lot of old, unused or unnecessary images on your site. Simply delete them — this will tremendously reduce the bandwidth necessary to load your pages.

Divide your pages.

People are coming to your site for one thing at a time — and they may stay to browse if your pages all load quickly. Instead of cramming a lot of information and products on one page, break products, blog posts, informational videos, and instructions into categories and create a menu instead. A concise, focused page will load faster.

Ultimately, if your site is still lagging after you rerun your page speed tests, you may want to consider a major overhaul. Whether you do it on your own or have an SEO partner to do the heavy lifting, it’s sometimes necessary to revamp a site entirely — especially if you used a template to build it when you started. While templates are easy to work with, they aren’t necessarily optimized for the consumer experience.

The Most Important Thing To Remember About Page Speed

Google is on a mission. Google wants to provide users with the absolute best result for any query they make — and part of being “best” is making information easy for users to access. Your site may contain all the right information and still rank lower than it should, simply because your site is disorganized and slow.

 

Maggie Black
[email protected]

Maggie Black is a freelance writer, biographer, editor and mixed-media artist. She absolutely loves what she does for a living and occasionally gets out of her pajamas (for public appearances only).