Page speed: Why it’s important and how you can improve it

Earlier this year Google confirmed that it will begin to use page download speed as a ranking factor in its ‘mobile-first’ index. Which means it is time to start working on making your website as fast and accessible as possible.

For the past few years we have been singing the benefits of improving page speed – both for search engine rankings and for user experience. With more and more internet browsing happening on mobile devices, it is now becoming essential that your webpages load up quickly.

Recent research into average page speeds shows that it takes 22 seconds for a mobile page to load. Compare that to the average of three seconds it takes users to decide to stay and wait for a page to load and you can clearly see the importance. If your pages are taking too long to load you are losing a lot of visitors, and therefore potential customers.

Page speed is important for SEO because Google knows that searchers want a fast browsing experience, especially on mobile when they may be in a hurry to get information. It is also important from a user experience point of view – which will have positive effects on your conversion rates and brand engagement.

Page speed is currently more of an indicator than a ranking factor, so unless the mobile version of your site is very slow then you may still see some good rankings with average page download speeds. However, study after study has shown that the faster your website is, the better your results will be.

For instance, recent research by Google shows that if your page takes 3 seconds to load then the visitor is 32% more likely to ‘bounce’ away from the page than if it takes 1 second. If it takes 5 seconds to load then they are 90% more likely to bounce. The way search engines see it is, if your pages are loading quickly they are offering a good search experience and therefore rank better in search results.

As Google is planning to use a mobile-first index soon (i.e. they will consider the mobile version of your website as the ‘canonical’ version), they have confirmed that page speed will be a ranking factor. So for webmasters it is becoming essential to make sure your website is responsive, mobile friendly and as fast as possible.

Top tips to speed up your site

We’ve teamed up with SEO tool experts seotoolsguru.com to provide a run-through of some of your best options to speed up your site.

The first thing to do is check Google’s own PageSpeed Insights tool to get an idea about how your site currently performs, and where the areas of improvement might be. This tool will usually prompt you to resize your images and compress your code – so that is your first job. If you need help with any of that, get in touch with Web Juice for a free consultation.

As well as that, here are a few other things you can work on to improve page speed:

Use AMP on your pages

Google introduced the open-source initiative AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) as a way to speed up the web for mobile users, and it’s not too hard to implement it across your website. AMP is currently not a ranking factor in Google (yet), but your AMP pages will be marked-up in search results so searchers know they are visiting a fast page.

Find out more about AMP here: https://www.ampproject.org/

Use HTTP2

The underlying infrastructure of the internet is always evolving and developing. One such advancement is HTTP2, a new version of the protocol your browser uses to connect to a server.

Without getting too technical, the most important thing about HTTP/2 is that it doesn’t require a new server request for each individual file on your web page.

Switch to PHP7

If you use a PHO-based CMS such as WordPress or Drupal, then upgrading to PHP7 can significantly improve performance.

Moving to PHP7 will not only provide a valuable speed boost, it will also help keep it secure and future proof.