Optimizing your website for search engine performance is more than just keyword targeting and proper tagging of metadata. It includes addressing all of the different criteria that the search engines like Google use to rank your site. This time we’re going to help you understand and tackle criteria that have absolutely nothing to do with keywords… We feel the need… the need… for page speed!
Page speed is a measure of how quickly the content on your website loads. That’s basically it in a nutshell. You can find out how your page speed measures up using a free tool right now, just go to Google’s PageSpeed Insights for a rundown!
Enter in your URL, click Analyze and Google will give your site a rating from 0-100, the higher the better. A whole bunch of actionable data will also populate below that. Let’s take a look at what PageSpeed Insights has to say about Google for instance!
So, first things first, the overall rating. PageSpeed Insights gives the Google home page a 72 out of 100. Right below it gives the key insights, and then it lists the Opportunities available to increase your page speed. Now, it’s important to understand that this tool is built around using data analyzed by Lighthouse, an open-source tool made to audit sites. Those tools (Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights) are the metrics by which your site is measured, so for SEO purposes, we need to build and address things with an eye to their best practices. In general, these reflect a better user experience for the potential customer, and the better the UX the higher Google is going to rank your site!
There are two key factors for why page speed is important. We already mentioned one – the faster a site loads, the better the user experience. The other is more behind the scenes. The fast your pages load, the faster and easier Google’s spiders are able to crawl your site. The better Google is able to crawl your site, the easier it is for them to better index every single page and bit of content you have!
So – yeah, page speed matters.
When it comes to improving your page speed, you want to make everything tight, lean, compressed, and ready to move fast. Here are 5 key steps to take to increase your page speed!
Files don’t have to be massive, so take the extra step to compress them and make your site lean and mean.
Images can take up a whole lot more space than they need to and slow down the whole site with them. To avoid this, make sure your images are loaded up in the right format, as compressed as they need to be for the web. Typically PNG is better for a graphic that has less than 16 colors, while JPEG is better for photographs that have a full range of color.
Also, depending on the platform of your site, you can leverage plugins and other tools that will deliver images quickly, loading them, as needed, lightning quick.
While we’re talking about code, clean up and optimize your code to speed it up. Remove unnecessary characters, formatting, code comments, any bits of code that aren’t being used. Any code that doesn’t serve a purpose should get the axe.
You can do this manually or use one of the many tools available for the job. Google themselves recommend using UglifyJS or CSSNano to streamline and condense your code.
Server response time is affected by a few things. One, the amount of traffic it has to handle at any given moment. Two, hosting. Three, any software on your server. Four, the resources each page requires. To improve your Response time look at each of these items and spot any slow routing, low memory, or database slowdowns.
Keep refining until your server is responding in under 200ms and you’ll be in good shape!
The proper application of redirects can be a critical tool in your SEO efforts, but sometimes you just need to get rid of them! Any time your page redirects that is adding waiting time before they are able to interact with your site. That’s no good! Limit your redirects wherever possible to keep your page speed high.
With those key concepts in mind, take a look at your PageSpeed Insights and see where your site’s specific opportunities lie! Address these and your PageSpeed should shoot up quickly, you want to get out of the red at the absolute minimum, but the higher you can score the better your site will perform – the better your site performs, the better your SEO results will be!
Need help making your fastest site a reality? Give Helix House a call today!