Technical SEO: Part 2, Page Speed!

One of the more important factors in technical SEO is increasing page speed and ensuring that your website loads within 3-4 seconds.

Google weighs page load times as a fairly important factor in determining rank in search results. However, I would argue that an even more important factor when it comes to page load times is the impatience of your customers. Many customers will only wait 4-5 seconds for your website to load. If they don’t wait long enough for your page to load, they will hit the back button and go to a competitors page. If enough people do this, then Google will start to lower you in the search results. So, it is obvious that you should spend your time and/or money to fix the biggest factors that are slowing your page down.

There are several issues that are the most common factors that slow your website’s load time. And I will be going over these most common issues with you in this blog.

First up, and easiest to fix are un-optimized images. There are a few ways to fix this issue and some ways are harder than others. There are ways to compress your images online, like this service from Optimizilla or if you are a WordPress user, there is a plugin that will compress your images for you. There is also a CSS Sprit creator available if you need to reduce the size of CSS images.

But if you are a smaller website, there is a much easier way that has worked for me, simply use smaller images. Most people are viewing your website either on a mobile device or on a computer screen that doesn’t do hi-res images very well. So using hi-res photos is just eating up time loading images that aren’t being viewed as high-quality images.

Next up in importance (in my opinion) is mobile friendliness. Most new website, if they are created using a service like WordPress or Wix, will be fairly mobile friendly, if not mobile optimized without any additional work. However, there are still plenty of older websites that are not mobile-friendly. Not to mention all of the new websites that started out as mobile friendly, but became less mobile friendly as content and photos were added.

This is one of the first places that having an SEO person that is familiar with technical SEO. If you have a site that is not mobile friendly at all, then some time and money should be spent fixing this issue. A tech savvy SEO should know the fundamentals of responsive web design and should be able to implement this into an existing website. Although, with many older websites, it might be more cost-effective in the long run just to update the entire website to a more modern look, which will much easier to implement a responsive web design in. Let’s face it, what you expect to see on a website is much different today than what you expected to see 6-10 years ago.

Once you have images optimized and a mobile friendly site, there are several more small task to address. First up is Render-Blocking JavaScript, which from my experience is a fairly common problem. This type of script causes the browser to potentially make multiple trips to an outside server to download content, slowing down the overall load times of your site. You will have to decide if you can remove this script without having a negative impact on the loading of your page.

Another problem that seems to be just as common as the render-blocking Javascript is a render-blocking CSS issue. This is caused by the use of an external style sheet that is used to tell your browser how the page should be constructed, how the page layout should look and even what color things should be. This issue can be fixed by inlining a small CSS file, instead of using a large external style sheet. If that was Greek to you, check out this link on what CSS is.

Next up is to minify Javascript, CSS, and HTML. Minifying this information can reduce the overall size of your website by removing thousands of characters of unneeded information. And less information means faster page load speeds.

You may be saying to yourself, “what is the point of putting in all of this work when my page is running just fine? Is it really worth all of the work to make my page load .5 to 2 seconds faster? Will it really increase my search ranking?” Yes, it will. And even if the pay of with Google is small, the payoff in customer satisfaction will be worth it, especially if your page takes longer than 3 seconds to load. At the end of the day, it is what customers think about your business and the feeling that they get when using your service that matters. If your shopping experience is smooth, and easy to navigate, then your customer will be happy.

 

 

 

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