Site speed is an important ranking factor for Google. It isn’t as important as backlinks, but it certainly plays a role in how Google values your website. What’s more, it’s importance will probably become an even more important ranking factor in the future as we move towards a more mobile-focused browsing experience.
In this article we will look at what having a slow site means for your rankings, how you can test your site speed and how you can improve it.
What does having a slow site mean
Having a slow website can hurt you for a number of reasons. Firstly, a slow website, as we have mentioned above, will be penalized by Google in the rankings. Google wants sites to be quick so if it sees that a site is loading slowly, it will not rank you as highly.
But it is more than this. A slow site can also result in a slow crawling rate. This will mean that Google will index your pages slower than other websites. New posts that you publish will take longer to show up and longer to generate organic traffic.
Finally, a slow site will lead to bad user experience and a high bounce rate. Google also uses bounce rate as a ranking factor. If visitors land on your website, get fed up of how long it takes to load and leave immediately, Google will recognize this and push your site down the rankings as a result.
How can you test your site’s speed?
If you want to improve your site’s speed, you’ll need to know how quick it is to start off with. There are a couple of tools that you can use to do this such as:
- Pingdom Speed Test
- Google PageSpeed
While Pingdom is probably the best of the lot because it allows you to test from several locations and offers suggestions on how to improve, we recommend that you use them all when testing your website.
How to improve your site’s speed
If you’ve run several tests and seen that your site is slow (it takes more than a couple of seconds to load, there are a couple of things that you can do about it.
Reduce image sizes
One reason that your pages may be taking a long time to load is large image file sizes. Images can tend to be quite large and therefore take longer to load but you can use a tool like kraken.io to reduce the image size whilst keeping image quality prior to uploading.
Add a caching plugin to WordPress
If you have a WordPress website installing a caching plugin could really speed up your website. There are a couple to choose from such as WP Super Cache and WP Rocket. WP Super Cache is free but it is the worse of the two plug-ins. WP Rocket is better but you have to pay for it.
Add a CDN to your website
A CDN stands for Content Delivery Network and it is an excellent way to speed up your website. In effect, it brings your site closer to your visitors. So that, if your hosting is in New York, but you serve customers in Australia, a CDN will store your site content on a server near Australia and serve it to your visitors there much faster.
If you need help speeding up your website, get in touch today.