What Is Page Speed?
Page speed is a measure of how fast the content on your page loads. Page speed is often confused with “website speed”, which is actually the page speed for an example of page views on a website.
The page speed can be described either in “page load time” (the time it takes to display the content completely on a particular page) or “time to first change” (how long it takes for your browser to receive the first change of information from the web server).
Why is page speed important for SEO?
Previously, page speed was just one of many metrics used by web developers to determine how quickly a person accesses the content of a web page.
Today, however, page speed has turned into an important ranking factor that search engines like Google use when ranking sites in the search results.
If it is an important ranking factor for Google, it is also an important factor in search engine optimization.
Why Google cares so much about page speed
A big reason why Google attaches so much importance to page speed is that it reflects the website’s quality and usability.
Users do less on sites whose page speed delays their interactions with the site, making it less interesting. Fast sites are therefore considered to have higher quality and are thus rewarded with higher rankings.
So, the faster your page loads, the higher it ranks in Google’s search results.
This means that by optimizing your web pages and lowering the loading speed, you can attract more organic traffic and make visitors stay longer on the website.
The more time the user spends on your site, the more it is exposed to your brand and your products. This means that you have more time to show the user who you are.
Page speed also affects other marketing channels
Page speed not only affects rankings and traffic – it affects all marketing channels. There is a lot of data out there that shows that fast web pages also convert more users and lower the bounce rate regardless of channel.
The loading speed also affects how visitors experience the site, which in turn is reflected in how they experience your company, your products and services.
A fast site provides a more positive user experience, while a slow site provides a more negative experience.
Which means that the user associates your brand with something positive. You also appear to be more credible as the site works the way the user expects.
But how fast should a web page load? Google recommends a page speed of less than two seconds.
Increace page speed by optimizing images
Make sure your images are not larger than they need to be, that they are in the correct file format (PNG files are generally better for graphics with less than 16 colors while JPEG images are generally better for photographs) and that they are compressed for the web.
Use CSS sprites to create a template for images that you often use on your site as buttons and icons.
CSS sprites combines your images into one large image that is loaded at once (meaning fewer HTTP requests) and then displays only the sections you want to display.
This means you save loading time by not letting users wait for multiple images to load.
Measure page speed
Measuring and analyzing the web page’s page speed is not as simple as it sounds.
There are many ways to measure.
- First Meaningful Paint / First Contextual Paint – the time it takes for a page to load enough components for the user to read the content of the page and start interacting with it.
- Fully loaded page – the time it takes for 100% of the page to load. This is the easiest way to determine how fast a page loads.
- Time to first byte – the time it takes for a page to begin the loading process.
Let’s say it takes 10 seconds for a page to fully load. It’s slow in relation to how fast it should load if you only look at how long it takes for the whole page to load.
Sometimes, however, it can be valuable to also look at how long it takes for the page to load in the first meaningful color.
It is often the only thing needed for the user to be able to start interacting with it.
In other words, there are many different ways to measure page speed and there is no one way that is better than another.
The best thing you can do is keep all the values as low as possible. This way you can be sure that the page has as short a load time as possible.
Take advantage of browser caching
Use a tool like YSlow to see if you already have an expiration date set for your cache.
Then set how long you want the information to be cached. In many cases, unless your web design changes frequently, a year is a reasonable amount of time.
Check your site’s page speed
There are several programs and services to use to find out how fast a page loads.
Here are some examples:
- Pingdom Tools
- Dotcom tools
- Google PageSpeed Insight
Here are 6 of the many ways to increase your page speed
1. Enable compression
Do not use gzip on image files. Compress these places in a program like Photoshop where you can maintain control over the image quality.
By optimizing your code (including removing spaces, commas, and other unnecessary characters), you can dramatically increase your page speed.
Also delete code comments, formatting and unused code. Google recommends using CSSNano and UglifyJS.
3. Reduce redirects
Each time one page redirects to another page, your visitor will have extra time to wait for the HTTP request-response cycle to complete.
For example, if your mobile redirection pattern looks like this:
example.com -> www.example.com -> m.example.com -> m.example.com/home
… each of these two additional redirects slows down your page.
Browsers must build a DOM tree by analyzing HTML before they can render a page. If your browser encounters a script during this process, it must stop and run it before it can continue.
5. Improve server response time
Your server’s response time is affected by the amount of traffic you receive, the resources each page uses, the software your server uses, and the hosting solution you use.
To improve your server’s response time, look for performance bottlenecks such as slow database queries, slow routing, or lack of sufficient memory and fix them.
The optimal server response time is less than 200 ms.
6. Use a content distribution network
Content distribution networks (CDNs), also called content delivery networks, are networks of servers used to distribute the load of content delivery.
Essentially, copies of your website are stored in several geographically different data centers so that users have faster and more reliable access to your website.
Automation and monitoring
It is important to measure the performance of your landing pages on an ongoing basis.
Even if a larger page speed work has been done, there are many factors that can reduce the page speed again, such as: development of new functions, uploading images in the wrong format / wrong size, new components (e.g. .car charging video).
There are several options for starting an ongoing measurement:
- Build your own solution that runs every time the website is updated.
- What fits best is different from case to case!
- Add a reminder to your calendar every week / month, and run Lighthouse manually.
- Use a third-party service that offers to continuously run Lighthouse or other monitoring tools on your website.
Improve your page speed summary
Many of the programs that measure speed do not show what steps you should take to shorten the charging time.
Here are three examples of things you can improve to get your pages loading faster:
- Review your server – look for bottlenecks such as slow database queries, slow routing or lack of memory and fix them. Sometimes it can even be worthwhile to change web hosts.
- Compress images – large and heavy images are the biggest reason why many web pages load slowly.
A website that takes a long time to load is bad, sounds pretty obvious but still important to point out. The limit of what counts as fast is constantly shifting.
To find out the status of your website, you can use a free tool, e.g. PageSpeed Insights. The tool gives you suggestions for actions that can improve your page speed.
Good luck with the continued improvement of your site’s page speed. Try applying some of the recommendations from PageSpeed Insights and see what the results will be.