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The Importance of Site Speed

Site speed is the length of time it takes for a website to load for a new visitor, and it can be a crucial factor in your website’s overall performance, both in terms of SEO ranking and a user’s experience. In fact, in the last couple of years Google has taken a stronger focus towards site speed, stating:

“At Google we’re obsessed with speed, in our products and on the web”.

So how exactly does site speed impact SEO and UX, and how can you make sure your site speed is optimum?


SEO & User Experience

Speed has always been an organic ranking factor, ever since it was introduced as a variable in Google’s algorithm in 2010. Originally this factor was purely focused on desktops, however the growth in smartphones within the last decade prompted Google to release their “Speed Update” in 2018. Meaning nowadays, companies need to not only be aware of their site speed on desktops, but also mobiles and tablets.

Site speed also plays a secondary role with other ranking variables, for instance customer traffic. In fact the findings from the 2019 Page Speed Report from Unbounce showed that 70% of consumers say page speed impacted their willingness to purchase, with further insights showing that after waiting 3 seconds for a page to load 22% of people would close the tab, 15% would go to a competitors site and 12% would be likely to speak to a friend about their negative experience. Therefore, it’s vital to make sure your website’s speed is at its optimal across a variety of devices to avoid shortfalls in your SEO rankings and visitors experience.


Tips to Achieve Optimal Site Speed

1. Have a Reliable Hosting Provider

Your hosting provider ensures your website is accessible to potential customers, meaning minimal server errors, page timeouts and ultimately less bouncing back to the SERPs. Hosting can affect your site speed depending on the type of hosting you are set up with, as well as your hosts location. For instance, if your host’s server location is halfway around the world from where your customers are located, then they will most likely be met with slower site load speeds.


2. Reduced Usage of Media

While every business looks to promote the very best version of themselves, some businesses can end up sacrificing performance for aesthetics. Especially with options such as videos and animations, which are utilised to entice customers to further explore a website. While these options are effective, they can cause your website to slow down due to the large file sizes. However, this does not mean they have to be sacrificed as there are alternative solutions such as compressing files to reduce load time. But be aware that according to Unbounce over 50% of people would be willing to give up animations and videos for faster load times, so is the video on your website truly worth it?


3. Website Backend Optimisation

Javascript, CSS & HTML all work in sync to provide a customer facing view of a website, including the performance of various elements such as buttons, videos and text. All of the coding provided by these tools are loaded when a user visits a website and the more coding, can at times lead to longer load time. Therefore, where possible, look to minify the code: removing unnecessary data without disrupting the overall performance of the website.

Similarly to CSS, Javascript and HTML coding unnecessary website scripts, add-ons and plugins can also be damaging to a site’s load speed, so be sure to remove them any that are not being utilized to further improve site speed.


4. Accelerated Mobile Pages

As mentioned previously, smartphones have become increasingly popular, which led to Google’s 2018 “Speed Update”. One way for businesses to make sure their website is optimised for mobile viewing is through the use of accelerated mobile pages which were launched by Google in 2016. According to Search Engine Land, “accelerated mobile pages (AMP) are essentially stripped-down HTML copies of existing webpage content that offer faster load times than standard HTML5 documents”. Offering overall greater site load speeds and greater customer satisfaction.


5. Test Your Speed Frequently

It is important to not get complacent. The digital environment is constantly changing, and this can have a direct impact on your websites’ performance. Make sure to test your site speed frequently using tools like Google’s Page Speed Report in the Search Console or Pingdom, and action any issues detected early to maintain optimum site speed.

To find out if your site needs a speed boost, contact the team at Redline Digital today.

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