Sky Rocket Your SEO with Page Speed Optimisation

How well optimised is your website performance and page speed? Not many businesses take this into consideration and it’s not unusual for visual design, aesthetics and nifty functionality to take priority over performance when launching a new website.

People like fast websites in 2018 and in fact so does Google, who have indicated that page speed will influence search engine rankings in their mobile search index. So not only is your page speed vital for strong SEO but also good user experience. A recent study published by KissMetrics indicated that 40% of visitors will abandon your site completely and go elsewhere if your page fails to load within just three seconds or less.

Wordpress Speed Performance Experts

 

Top reasons why page speed matters

  • Google has indicated that a fast website is a ranking signal used in their search algorithms
  • A fast website is more likely to increase your conversion rates
  • A fast website is proven to deliver a high-quality user experience
  • A slow website will increase your bounce rate by 50%
  • A slow website will increase your abandonment rate
  • A website optimised for speed and performance will reduce operating costs

How to test your website performance

At Digital Mad we like to use a range of different online page speed tests and performance tools to gain insights and metrics into page load times. We recommend using Google Page Insights that grades your website from 1 to 100 on both desktop and mobile. A score above 85 is an indication that your website is well optimised. A lot of work went into achieving a top score of 100/100 on our own website, but we couldn’t call ourselves performances experts without striving for absolute perfection! Google Page Insights will highlight the main issues that need fixing in order of priority. For example you can view recommendations on how to optimise your images using lossless compression and how to minify CSS/JS assets to reduce page size.

Another great performance tool is GT Metrix which takes into consideration page speed and YSLOW metrics assigning your site a grade from F to A. Sign up for a free account so that you can test from a server local to your website visitors for more accurate load times. If you run a speed test on GT Metrix as a guest then you will be restricted to Vancouver, so unless your visitors are in Canada you will see inaccurate results. You always want to select a server closest to your target audience.

GT Metrix Speed Tool

We find Pingdom Page Speed Tool useful for examining requests and content size by content type. After running a report you can view the total percentage of HTML, CSS, Javascript, images and video that contribute towards page size and server requests. This makes it easy to identify exactly which content elements are slowing you down. We also find Pingdom load times to be the most accurate. When testing with Pingdom always make sure you select a server local to your website visitors, in our case the closest test server is Stockholm, Sweden. If you have caching enabled on your site then it’s not unusual to see a wide variation in load times, therefore we recommend running a few tests and taking an average result. Remember you want that load time under 3 seconds!

5 tips to improve your website speed

The following optimisation techniques can be implemented by your web developer or internet marketing agency to improve performance:

1. Use VPS hosting over shared hosting:

One of the biggest mistakes we see are businesses opting for cheap shared hosting packages over a VPS (Virtual Private Server). Usually this is down to not knowing the difference between the two. A shared server has more than one website (usually thousands of websites) all sharing the same resources which can result in a high server response time. A VPS has allocated resources just for your site. Surprisingly you can find a good VPS for less money than most shared hosting packages if you know what to look out for.

2. Avoid third party themes and plugins:

We see a lot of businesses installing third party themes and plugins that include every script and library under the sun. Too many scripts and active plugins will slow down your site and increase requests on the server. If you’re really concerned about performance then consider a bespoke WordPress theme with custom features and functionality built directly into the theme without third party plugin dependency.

3. Resize and compress your images:

This is probably the easiest way to quickly reduce page size to ensure your web page can be downloaded quickly by your visitors. Use a compression tool like TinyPNG to reduce the size of your images without affecting quality. Also make sure you resize images to the actual display size on your website and this will make a big difference.

4. Defer or load your Javascript asynchronously:

When you load a website in a browser Javascript and other resources will prevent the page from display until they have finished downloading and are processed by the browser. To reduce render blocking scripts Google recommends that you defer or load them asynchronously. Essentially this means the file is downloaded during HTML parsing. For example to load a script asynchronously you would use  <script src="example.js" async></script> and to defer a script you would use <script src="example.js" defer></script>.

5. Configure caching on your server:

Whether you have shared hosting or VPS hosting adding cache control and expire headers will let the browser know whether to serve a cached version of the page. If configured correctly then caching will significantly reduce server load and decrease page load time. If your server is using Apache then you can enable cache control and set expire headers in htaccess. With Nginx you can add cache control to your servers config file.

Looking to improve your SEO rankings? At Digital Mad we are experts in website speed and performance. We use advanced optimisation techniques to ensure your website loads as quickly as possible. If your website is taking too long to load then call 01202 901 607 to speak with an SEO expert in Bournemouth or email us to find out how we can help your business.

Colin N

I work as lead web developer at Digital Mad agency in Bournemouth. I love building bespoke WordPress applications using Sage with a modern web development workflow. In my spare time I enjoy maintaining my reef aquarium which houses a happy clownfish and bubble tip sea anemone.