If you’re reading this then you’re probably acutely aware as to how much page speed affects your SEO ranking on Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS). If you’ve read our previous post (which you can find here) you’ll know that there are a myriad of things that can affect your site’s speed and your SEO ranking as a result. This ranges from anything including image file size to particular code implementation, and if you know anything about internet users, then you’ll also know that you have a very small gap of time to ensure your site visitors’ attention span – eight seconds in some estimations!
Page speed and site speed are inherently different aspects to consider but they tackle similar things. If you’re measuring page speed then expect to look into several many elements of page speed including time to first byte (TTFB) which is a measure of the entire site’s loading process, first contextual paint which is the time taken for enough legible material to load, and fully loaded page which – as you can imagine – is the time it takes for the entire page to load.
Site speed, however, is the speed at which a user can go from the SERP to the site, and this can be just as important as this is where many users tend to ‘bounce’ or go elsewhere and to a different (probably competing) site.
Determining your site’s speed isn’t the real challenge on your speed decreasing SEO journey as there are several tools and software that can aid your initial diagnosing processes. Once you’ve picked your chosen tool, you will be provided with an extensive and comprehensive list as to what it is that is needed as well as everything that is working for your site speed-wise.
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There are also matters of website speed which are less in your control, including internet speed, your internet service provider (ISP), the processing power of your computer, and even the type of browser you’re using. But remember there is only so much you can do regarding this so focus on what you can control.
So, what can you control when it comes to page speed? How can you today work on improving your site and page speed? Over the next few paragraphs we’re going to explore these various solutions so that you can climb to the top ranks of Google’s previous Page One!
Imagery is vital to improving site speed
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One of the most important measures of reducing page loading time comes in the form of compressing images that exist on your site. This is important because images can take up a large chunk of a page’s size compared to text, sometimes up to 90% depending on how visually heavy your website is but they’re also a very important element of your website and help enhance the appearance of your website and its content.
Therefore, you want to make sure that images are optimised and compressed via file format changes, lazy loading (which involves only loading site elements once they’re needed) and reducing image file sizes to reduce their ‘weight’.
Primarily, you need to know which file size is the best for your web imagery – generally these are JPG, GIF, PNG, and SVG files. You then want to consider the correct file compression rate, this can be done through a variety of tools such as Photoshop which itself has a ‘save for web’ option when exporting imagery.
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It isn’t just the files themselves that need optimising when it comes to improving website speed, choosing the right file name is also crucial to ensuring good SEO ranking for image search results. Therefore, you want to ensure that any images you upload have relevant, descriptive keywords that will attract the most SEO potential. These names should be relevant to the image so that people and search engines understand them so make sure you’re as clear as possible when it comes to describing your images.
Additionally, to ensure that search engine crawlers understand and index the kind of content you’re providing, you want to include ‘alt tags’ to provide context as well as a visual aid for otherwise impaired users on your site. Similarly, the copy on the page should be relevant to the image too so that search engines can cross-reference the two and help it with ranking the site more holistically.
Another little tip when it comes to imagery and improving your site speed – where you can, use unique imagery! Stock photos won’t necessarily hinder your search engine ranking but using your own original imagery is akin to using original written content – Google will look kindly upon you! Plus, other websites are likely to have used them so that doesn’t bode as well.
Extra tips to improving site speed
As you can probably tell, improving your site speed and reducing load times is quite a technical endeavour, which is why the next load reducing tip we can provide has to do with hosting. Basically, your hosting choice will have a not insignificant impact on your SEO because your hosting will decide the speed at which your website will load.
If you share a server with many other sites, you’re more likely to experience bottlenecks in loading which could be detrimental to your bounce rate over time. Therefore, an ideal rule would be to pay for a server that fewer companies do – i.e. pay more, get more out of it. If improving site speed is a real objective for your marketing strategy, then upgrading to a premium or dedicated server may just be your silver bullet.
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