Why the speed of your website is so important

Posted in topic Marketing insights on 7th August 2018

Let’s be honest, no one likes having to wait. Whether you’re sat at the traffic lights waiting for them to turn green or it’s that annoying man at the counter in McDonalds who still hasn’t decided what meal to order… we want our turn and we want it now!

The same can be said of websites. Waiting is bad. Very bad. And, it would seem Google agrees with us.

Site speed (and, indirectly, page speed) is now a big factor in determining where your website ranks in Google. It has become more and more of an issue in recent years and Google is now taking the issue seriously by punishing sites in their rankings that don’t measure up.

The reasoning is quite simple; if a site is slow and takes an age to load important content then its hardly offering a great experience to the user. According to Yoast better results and performance is a sign of healthy website – and this should be rewarded with a higher ranking.

page speedOK, so what is page speed and how is it measured?

Page speed can be described as the time it takes to load page (the time required to fully display the content on a specific page) or what many web developers may refer to as ttfb or time to first byte – this is how long it takes for your web browser to receive the first byte of information from the web server.

Google’s Page Speed Insights tool is a great way to test your site’s speed. The score it gives your website uses data from the CrUX (Chrome User Experience Report) and reports on two important speed metrics: First Contentful Paint (FCP) and DOMContentLoaded (DCL).

Research clearly shows that slower websites with longer load times have much higher bounce rates (people who bounce in and out of the site after only viewing 1 page) than quicker sites. It stands to reason that if a site is slow then you 1 or more of the following happens:

  • A user gets frustrated
  • A user gets frustrated and goes off to a rival
  • A user thinks the website is broken or offline and gives up

So, your website is slow… but what can you do about it?

You’ve bitten the bullet and run Google’s Page Insights tool and it doesn’t make good reading. Is it time to bin your site and fork out for a new one? Maybe… but before you dust off the cheque book, it is worth trying a few tricks to help your website run faster. Some you can do from the comfort of your favourite armchair and others (depending on your level of computer geekiness) may require the help of a friendly web developer. Here’s the top ways to improve site speed:

      Optimise your content: Go through your website page by page -> look at your images and videos. If the file sizes are huge (i.e. over 500kb or, worse, 1mb+ then compress these down to 150kb or, ideally, much smaller – especially for mobile sites. Same goes for video – is your site calling a massive video that on auto-play? Try calling it in from YouTube instead, rather than having it on your website.
      Minifiy CSS, Java Script and HTML: Remove commas and unnecessary characters from your website’s code and you could see a big difference in performance. Streamlining this code means the file that is sent to your browser is much smaller – minfying the code can reduce this size by up to 50%.
      Reduce redirects: Easier said than done in some cases but it stands to reason that the more time your site has to redirect from one URL to another it will take longer to load the content.
      Leverage browser caching: Website browsers cache (or store old versions) of lots of information such as stylesheets, images and JavaScript files so that when someone goes back to your site it doesn’t have to load the entire page from scratch. Very smart.
      Improve server response time: Is your site hosted on an overloaded server? Can it handle large volumes of traffic? Moz says Your server 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 response time, look for performance bottlenecks like slow database queries, slow routing, or a lack of adequate memory and fix them.

    Is your website’s speed harming your rankings? Not sure how to fix the issues highlighted above? Speak to us today on 01726 418118 or click here to drop us an email enquiry