It was one of the hot topics at the latest BrightonSEO conference: how fast your website loads can make a big difference to its search engine performance. Here we’ll explain just why site speed is so critical to search engine success, how to measure it yourself, and what you can do to optimise your site’s performance.
Yes, slow sites are annoying – but did you know that just a 1-second delay in page loading time could lead to billions of dollars of lost revenue? While most of us don’t have websites on the scale of Amazon, it’s clear that website speed is an issue that shouldn’t be ignored. Here are some of the factors that can be affected by the speed of your site – all of which can have a serious effect on your business:
The internet is complex, and by their very nature, websites require smooth functionality from two sides in order to render properly on a computer or device. You can control the technical performance of your website and the capabilities of your server, but the device and connection your visitors are relying on is out of your hands. Third-party website widgets, server load and many other variables will all affect the speed at which you can deliver what your users need. You can only influence some of these, so it’s important to do what you can at your end, to optimise the performance of your site.
The only way you can know your site speed is to measure it. GTmetrix is a free tool designed to give you all the data you need about how fast your site is loading, as well as offering recommendations to improve your site’s performance.
Your GTmetrix website speed test will give you the following information:
You can opt to monitor the speed of your website over a period of time, to identify any patterns or peaks in demand. It’s also a good idea to test a selection of pages on your website instead of just the homepage, to get a better picture of your overall website speed.
How can you be sure that using this free tool will help to optimise your site for search engines? Well, the issues identified by GTmetrix are very likely to be things that matter for SEO, because it uses tools from both Google and Yahoo! to inform its metrics. Google PageSpeed and YSlow are rulesets that are designed by the search engines to help you improve your site speed and performance.
Now that you know how to measure site speed, what should you do with the results? A page on an average website loads in around 10 seconds, but it’s recommended that you aim for 3 seconds or less to keep your visitors happy. If your pages are loading more slowly than this, it could be down to one or more issues:
This just skims the surface of the technical issues that may cause slow page loading. If you’re finding it difficult to get the bottom of your slow website, why not book in for a technical audit with our SEO team? We’ll analyse your site speed for you, diagnose any issues and fix the problems to make your site load faster.