SEO Site speed, or the amount of time it takes to load your site or transfer from one page to the next is vital to SEO PageRank and user satisfaction.
Have you ever asked yourself, “Why do other websites launch so quickly, while mine just sits there spinning?” Theirs seem to pop open on command, like some kind of magical jack-in-the-box, while mine is still spinning. Still laughing at me like some deranged Chucky doll.
SEO Site speed likely plays a significant role in Google, Bing, and other search engine algorithms to index a site. Of course, there is no way of knowing for sure since they do not announce their system to the public, as that would just lead to abuse of the system creating an uneven playing field. Secret algorithms allow search engines to index sites without public knowledge of the parameters used.
SEO Site Speed Factors
Theoretically, one factor used to determine your website’s rank on Google, Bing, and other search engines are SEO Site Speed. Historically, site speed was not a big factor in a ranking website, as before proper algorithm development it was all about keyword stuffing; however, that appears to be changing. Yet, the most important aspect of site speed may have nothing to do with rankings at all.
The fact is that most internet searchers will wait no more than a few seconds for your site to load before they will opt out and click on the next result on the search engine results page (SERP). This should be the most important consideration in reducing loading times for your site. Readers do not stay on a slow site very long either, so the bounce rate is often higher. And, the most important reason you should speed up your site is that since the user experience (UX) is not good, people do not usually stay long enough to answer a call to action, such as registration or purchase.
Therefore, even when you just use your site as a blogging platform, your goal should be a fast site for great UX.
Determining SEO Site Speed
The first step is to determine your SEO site speed and since each will give you a different reading, you should use as many tools as possible. This will give you more accurate reading and determine what needs to be changed for optimum UX. Here are four that I use routinely:
Google’s Insights will show you both desktop or mobile speed, which is very important since there has been a large crossover of searchers to mobile devices. If you check the numbers behind each analysis, Google gives you pointers regarding low numbers.
Try to improve your numbers by working off those “deficiencies,” just remember these are recommendations and may not be right for your site. Some of the recommendations may require hiring a developer to fix, so you have to balance what is best for speed against what is best for your budget. Additionally, Google recommends not using plugins and whereas plugins do slow down your site to a certain degree, some such as WP Super cache speed up your site, more on that later.
Pingdom permits testing for many locations and Yahoo’s Yslow segments the checks. Depending on the configuration of your site, www.mysite.com may redirect to mysite.com, which takes longer and may make your test inaccurate, so check your settings and use the proper URL. Yslow and Google are rather technical in their explanation, but with additional searches and YouTube or WordPress tutorials you can do most of these yourself.
Things that you should fix to speed up your site:
- Optimize images
- Optimize databases and tables
- Dynamic sites with No caching
- DNS issues
- Minimize redirects
Today’s large, high-definition images use a lot of space and take a long time to retrieve from your server. Therefore, you should prioritize optimizing these. Use a jpeg minimizer to make those jpegs smaller without compromising quality, jpegmini.com is what I use. Their ad campaign slogan is, “Your Photos on a Diet.” You simply cannot tell the difference between the original and an optimized photo. In addition, you can use tinypng for your Portable Network Graphics (png). Or, use the Tiny PNG plugin that can optimize jpegs and png already on your site and set parameters for future media uploads. All these tools are free for limited use.
Next are those databases and tables. Do NOT skip this process because you believe you don’t have any databases or tables. WordPress uses 11 core databases or tables and this could expand in the near future, not to mention those used by plugins and those you may have manually installed.
When you frequently update your website, the WordPress database or other Content Management System (CMS) you use will grow bigger over time. These large databases greatly affect your site’s load time and other performance measures for your site. It takes a longer time for the server to recall information from your database tables. That is why it is important to optimize databases frequently.
Installing a cache plugin should definitely speed up access and page transfers within your site. When your host provider does not already administer caching for your site, WP Super Cache caches your website without a lot of whistles and bells. Some say WP Rocket is a better product, but it will cost you $39 a year. It may be worth it to you for added security and less hassles, if you are not very technically inclined.
Some recommend W3 Total Cache, but it also is not for those who are not superior IT folks. Or, if you have a developer, you could ask them if it is good for your site speed.
Since SEO site speed is so important, you may want to try some of these techniques to speed up your website. As I stated, most are quite easy to do yourself. I particularly like Tiny PNG. I used to use jpegmini exclusively, but quite often forgot to optimize an image before uploading it and Tiny PNG is very easy to use for images already uploaded. Another solution to image optimization is the WP Smush plugin that condenses all images on your site.
Solving many of these issues that slow your site speed lead to other problems, kind of like a Russian Nested Doll, when you open one there is another, and another, and another. So, if you have problems or not enough time to spend speeding up your website, consider contacting an SEO Expert. If you need content for an About Us Page, Blog, or other section of your website, send me a contact form.
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