Does your website’s speed affect SEO?

Does page load speed affect my SEO?

When ranking websites for search, Google takes a wide variety of factors into account. One of the most important factors has been shown to be the speed of your website.

Marketer examining website metricsThe first and most obvious factor is clock speed (or the time that it takes for your website to load in seconds). Ideally, your website should take much less than a second to load. If each page of your website is taking more than a second or two to load then you’re definitely going to see a hit in your search rankings.

The second factor to look at is the structure of your website and how it loads. When a user connects to your website, they first download the code for your site and then their browser makes more “requests” for each of the individual supporting assets (e.g. scripts, images, stylesheets, etc.) Ideally, your website should require as few requests as possible to get the page loaded and displayed.

How to speed up your website

There are a few easy ways to speed up your website. If you’re not doing any of these then you’ll definitely want to look into them as they’ll provide some quick wins.

Caching

If you’re using a CMS like WordPress then every time someone requests a webpage from your website, it’s built from scratch. That’s a slow process that’s a total waste of time. For example, if they’re reading a blog post that you’ve written then that blog post is unlikely to have changed since the last person read it. If a page is unlikely to change regularly then you can have your webserver save the prebuilt page in memory and just send that instead the next time. The speed increase from this one fix alone can be dramatic.

Optimise your Javascript and CSS files

An easy way of cutting down the number of requests to your website is to combine all of your Javascript and CSS files together wherever possible. For example, if you have 10 small Javascript files in one of your webpages, you could combine them all into one Javascript file and send that instead. If you’re using WordPress, there are plugins like Autoptimize available that will do this for you automatically.

Optimise your web server

This can be a simple or complex change depending on your needs and your current setup. If your website is currently running on shared, £5 per month hosting then you’ll definitely see a huge speed increase by moving to a properly managed web server.

We’ve had clients recently who have had really well built websites that struggled to rank on Google. This is because they’ve been running on budget hosting. After moving to our dedicated servers, they’ve seen an instant boost in their search rankings. One recent client saw an immediate jump of 5-10 places on Google for all of their primary search phrases!

If you’re already running on dedicated hosting and your website is still slow then you’ll need to look into how your web server is set up. If you’re using Apache2 then you’ll find guides like this one on the web that can use to try to boost performance. If you’re using Nginx (like we do), there are similar guides like this one.

Test your website’s speed

Once you’ve optimised your website, you’ll want to check to see what impact your changes have had. Tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom are invaluable here.

Other ways to boost your optimise your website for search

Our free SEO eBook has more tips for boosting your website’s search visibility.

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