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What is Page Speed and Why is It Important?

  • February 23, 2017
  • SEO

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to look up a quick answer to something, only to find yourself waiting forever for a website to load. Chances are when this happens to you, you simply hit the back button and click on the next search result instead of wasting precious seconds. In this scenario, you are frustrated by slow page speed, or the length of time it takes for a page to load and become visible in your browser.

To make search results more user-friendly, Google and other search engine algorithms have started using page speed as a ranking factor. Essentially, while faster speeds won’t guarantee rankings, it’s almost a sure bet that a snail-paced loading time will suppress your site’s rank in search results. To gauge your website’s page speed and get recommendations for improving it, use the Google PageSpeed Insights Tool.

Improve your search engine rankings by increasing your site's page speed.

Improve your search engine rankings by increasing your site’s page speed.

How to Run Google PageSpeed Insights Analysis

If you want to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth, then the best tool to use is the Google PageSpeed Insights tool. To see what Google thinks of your site, go here and enter your web page URL in the box. Hit “analyze” and read on for some real truths from Google about updating your site. Google will provide an analysis of both the desktop and mobile versions of your site. Since the Mobilegeddon algorithm update in 2015, mobile-friendliness has been an increasingly important ranking factor, so don’t neglect to pay attention to both ratings Google provides.

Common PageSpeed Issues to Fix

Enable Compression

Have you ever tried to send a file over email, only to have it get rejected because it’s too large? If so, you may have “zipped” the file, compressing it to make it small enough to send as an attachment. Enabling compression on a site is a similar concept. Gzip compresses files to reduces the resource load time and load time.

Optimize Images

Images might make your site look pretty, but these large files require a lot bytes to download. While there are no definitive rules for optimizing images, Google does give a few great guidelines for making images on your site browser-friendly:

  1. Use images sparingly, only when necessary to your site design. CSS effects and web fonts are great alternatives that deliver design in a more compact and efficient package.
  2. Use vector images for geometric images like logos. Raster image formats (.jpeg, .png, .gif, etc.) are better to use for photos with lots of irregularity.
  3. Choose the right type of file format for raster images
  4. Optimize pictures for high-resolution screens according to the photo type (raster vs. vector)
  5. Consider implementing lossy and lossless filters to eliminate and compress unnecessary pixel data

Leverage Browser Caching

Well-leveraged browser caching reduces the amount of resources that must downloaded each time a request is made. Set rules for which resources can be cached and for how long.

Remove Render-Blocking JavaScript

JavaScript can slow down page render when a browser is parsing HTML. To reduce the amount of render-blocking JavaScript in your code, try using Inline JavaScript for small files or defer loading of JavaScript that are not necessary for the initial page render.

Optimize CSS Delivery

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets, and is essentially the style code for the design elements of a site (i.e. colors, fonts, layout, etc.). As with JavaScript, CSS can delay the rendering of a web-page, so its delivery should be optimized. Google recommends only inlining small CSS files and avoiding inlining CSS attributes in HTML elements.

These are just a few of the ways you can boost your PageSpeed times and potentially improve your rankings. For a complete list page speed optimization factors, look at the recommendations Google offers specifically for your site. This on-page factor could play a significant role in helping your site rank.

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