12 Page Speed Best Practices to Follow for SEO

12 Page Speed Best Practices to Follow for SEO

Page Speed Best Practices

The speed at which content on your page loads is what is referred to as its page speed. Needless to say, the faster content loads, the better. It is important to have fast page speeds for two main reasons. The first is that it directly affects your SEO rankings. This is because a slow page speed will slow down the bots crawling around your site.

You need these bots because that is how you get a better SEO ranking. They only have so much time to spend on each page so if your page is slow, they will miss out on other content and thus your SEO ranking will not be as high as it could or should be. The other main reason you want a high page speed is that people have increasingly short attention spans. With the advancements in technology, things are becoming more and more instant.

Tasks that used to take hours or even days before can now be done with the touch of one button. People have grown accustomed to this. Instead of having to go get a newspaper, they can read a simple headline on the internet and feel like they are up to speed on current events.

That being said, rarely will a visitor to your site hang around and wait for your page to load if it is taking a long time. They will just move on to a site that loads faster. That could be detrimental to your website and if it is a business, to your income. Read on to learn about several methods that can help you make your page speed as fast as it can be.

Page Speed Best Practices


Page Speed vs. Site Speed

However long it takes to display all of the content on a page is its page speed. Do not confuse page speed with site speed. Site speed is the speed of a bunch of page speeds combined. One way to test your page’s page speed is to use a tool called PageSpeed Insights. It will give you a score that will help you decide if your page is fast enough for you or not.

Remember that you want your page speed to be as fast as it can possibly be. No one wants to sit around and wait for something to load. Chances are if they have to, they will close the page and start over, this time not returning to your site. In fact, they may very well never return again. This was probably not what you wanted when you decided to spend the time and money to create a website.

You might as well do whatever you can to attract as many people as possible to your site, and having a faster page speed is a great way to do just that. Give it a try, and you may be very pleasantly surprised by the results you see.


Page Speed and SEO     

SEO, or search engine optimization, rears its ugly head once again in relation to page speed. Both site speed and page speed may play a role in the algorithms used to rank pages by Google affiliated bots. A slow page speed means less crawling by bots because they only have certain amounts of time budgeted for each site. The slower your site, the less crawling that can be done and thus the lower your rankings will be in the search engines. This is a bad thing.

With faster page speeds, bots will be able to crawl through more if not all of your content and thus you will gain higher SEO rankings, which is vital to the success and popularity of your site. In almost every instance, you want to have the highest SEO ranking that you can possibly get. Whether you are trying to make money or educate people on your site, the more visitors you are able to attract, the better.

The only case in which you may not want visitors to find your site is if it is some sort of private scrapbook or blog of sorts, but that is a different matter entirely. If that is the case, then page speed would only matter for your own sake. Say you wanted to look at your own picture album from years back—how long do you  want to sit there and wait for your pictures to load?

The answer is probably not very long. However, if you have a lot of time on your hands and little else in your life, you may not mind watching the clock tick by.


Enable Compression     

Pages that take a long time to load understandably have higher rates of people leaving them before the content had time to show up. This means the average time people spend on your site will be lower than on a faster site. This is bad news for your site, so it is important to increase page speeds. You can do this by enabling compression.

There is a software application called Gzip that can reduce the size of many of your files. Do not, however, use it on images. Photoshop and Paint are ways to decrease image file sizes. Photoshop is not free, but it is a better option if you are wanting to retain the quality of the image. Paint may make the smaller file look pixelated or blurry.


Optimize Code     

You can also optimize your code to increase your page speed. Do this by removing spaces, commas, special characters and anything that is not necessary. Removing code comments is helpful also. CSSNano and Uglify JS are two tools that can assist you in your endeavor to do so.


Reduce Redirects     

Reducing redirects is another way to try and improve page speeds. Every time there is a redirect, there is an additional waiting period for the HTTP request-response cycle. If set up properly, this should be very minimal, but it still exists. If not set up correctly, it could be very time-consuming indeed.

Redirects are a way to automatically have one URL lead to another without the visitor having to do anything. Try to avoid these as much as possible. However, if you cannot avoid them, please try to use a 301 redirect as they are the most seamless once implemented properly.

The user will never know they have been redirected in a perfect world. There will very minimal time added to your page speed.


Get Rid of Scripts     

If you can at all help it, do not use scripts that are associated with JavaScript. They will slow you down every time. In fact, try not to use any scripts at all. A script is a small process that the browser must perform before it can display your content. The more complicated or lengthy the process, the longer it will take. Therefore, it is the fastest and best to use very short (or better yet, no) scripts.  


Caching     

Caching is another excellent way to increase page speed. By caching information, the browser does not have to reload the entire page the next time someone visits. This is only true if they are visiting from the same device that they used the last time they visited. This is very useful for sites that do not change much.

You can even choose how long the information should be cached. This is great if you change the information on your site once in a while. If that is the case, you would not want someone looking at a cached or outdated version. If your site does not change frequently, by all means, enable caching.


Content Distribution Networks     

Content Distribution Networks (CDNs) are also known as content delivery networks. They distribute your site’s information all over the place, so it is much more readily available worldwide. This is great because it is done through no effort or cost of your own.


Optimize Images   

Images, especially nowadays with DSLR cameras everywhere, are often much larger than is necessary. Unless you are a professional photographer, it is usually not necessary to shoot in the RAW. Those files are huge and only useful when developing actual, real, large prints, for example, to hang on the wall. There is no need for that type of file on a standard website. It will just slow your page speed down with no real benefit to you, your site or the user.

Making sure images are in the right file format is also very important. Please understand the differences between PNG and JPEG at the very least. PNG is for graphics. JPEG is for token pictures. As you have already learned, caching can help to increase page speeds, especially if you have some pictures that never change. That being said, make sure to update your site from time to time if you ever have any new information that may be relevant to your site or those who may look at it.  


Server Response Time     

Server response time needs to be increased and this can be done by paying more money for better web hosting. Server response time is the response time of a web server to a request from a browser. This is key in determining page speed. The more traffic your website has, the slower the page speed will be. Server response time comes down to one thing: the server.

As with most things, you get what you pay for. It may be worth shelling out a few extra bucks to get a better web host, and thus server, for your site. After all, how long would you patrol around a website if every click of the mouse resulted in lengthy waits for the next page to load? The answer is probably not very long. This is bad news if you are looking to keep people coming back to your site.


More on SEO     

SEO is an ever-present concern for anyone wanting to attract visitors to their website. Page speed is directly related to good SEO rankings so do your best to optimize it as best you can. SEO is not something you only have to worry about when establishing your website. It is an ongoing process that must be enhanced continuously. The better your SEO rankings, the higher your site will show up in search engine results.


Other Variables      

No matter how fast your page speed is, if someone has a slower internet connection, it will take longer for them to be able to see the content on your website. There is nothing you can do about their internet speed, but if you have your site configured properly and streamlined, you can help them.  

A well set up and compressed site will load faster than an ill-configured site regardless of internet speed. An ill-configured site will possibly not even load at all on a slow enough internet connection. These days it is very common for people to use a smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Even with a decent signal, this can be somewhat slow.

With a poor signal, you can just about forget being able to load a webpage that is bogged down with large pictures and a bunch of graphics. However, if you have everything compressed and in good form according to these guidelines, even with a poor signal, you have a better chance of the user being able to view your content. This is a very good thing.


Conclusion    

It is very important to have the best page speed that you can. This means that you want the fastest page speed that you can have. Resize your images and graphics. Cut down on redirects. Do not use unnecessary codes, scripts or other backend things that are not necessary and just bog things down. You want both users and crawlers to be able to instantly access all of your content as fast as possible. Using the methods listed above will help you to have the fastest, most streamlined and functional website possible.  

Garenne Bigby
Author: Garenne BigbyWebsite: http://garennebigby.com
Founder of DYNO Mapper and Advisory Committee Representative at the W3C.

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