When building a website, the last thing many people take into consideration is the page’s loading speed. The first thing you get excited about and usually think about is the aesthetics and content that will be presented on the site. 

However, don’t let the anticipation for your website’s presentation deter you from remembering the importance of the mechanics of a website.  

The backend of your website is just as important, if not more than the front end. Page speed is a huge factor to consider when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and customer engagement.

If you want to learn more about the importance of page speed and how it can boost traffic to your website, read on. 

why page speed matters for SEO

What is page speed?

Page speed is simply how fast or slow a website page loads. In other words, the time it takes for the content on a website page to fully load and to be completely displayed. 

Page speed consisted of seven loading processes before user interaction

  1. Starting from Time to First Byte (TTFB) which is how long it takes for your browser to request and connect to the webserver to start loading the first byte of content (should take roughly 168ms)
  2.  First Paint starts when the browser begging to render on the page, usually this is when the background color is displayed (should be finished at 1.6s mark)
  3. Contentful Paint begins when the content is painted, usually a text, an image, or canvas render (should be finished at 1.6s mark)
  4. Document Object Model Int. (DOM) at this point, the browser has finished loading and parsing HTML, and the DOM is built. The DOM is an application programming interface that allows documents (HTML & XML) to be manipulated and accessed (should be finished at 2.1s mark)
  5. DOM Loaded is the content loading time, where Javascript can be executed and no style sheets are blocking Javascript (should be finished at 2.1s/ 204ms  mark)
  6. Onload the loading process is complete. All resources are on the page and completed downloading (images, CSS, etc.)   (should be finished at 2.4smark)
  7. Time to Interactive (TTI)-  is the time it takes before the user can click and interact with your website. 

The total loading process should take no more than 2 seconds 

Why is website speed important?

Two factors to take into consideration: SEO/Google Ranking and User Experience  

Website speed Importance for SEO/Google Ranking:

Google has a need for speed. In 2010, Google implemented a site speed ranking signal as a part of their algorithm. Meaning, Google ranks your website based on how quickly your page loads. 

However, this is a “small” signal compared to the website’s authority and relevance. So how does it affect you?

The average website does not experience a significant drop in traffic if your website is slow to load, but according to Google you will have a hard time significantly increasing traffic to your site.  

“Google will reduce the number of crawlers it sends to your site if your server is slower than two seconds.” – Public Statement from Google 

Therefore, Google is less likely to boost your recent blogs and posts if your page speed is slow. Google understands that sending users to slow-speed sites decreases user experience. 

Website Speed Importance for User Experience:

The time it takes for your website to load is the first impression you have on a user/customer. 

Just like when you walk into a store and first thing you are greeted by an employee, your experience starts with a positive mindset and that trickles down into your shopping experience. Vice versa for a negative first impression.

Your loading speed sets the tone for users visiting your page. When your page loads quickly, you get a positive tone, leaving the impression that you’re reputable and professional. 

Don’t believe me? Here are some stats on how loading times affect user experience. According to Kissmetrics research:

Page Speed Insights

What’s affecting my page speed?

Websites can contain a lot of unnecessary functionalities and features that can weigh down the site. Especially with older websites, web design companies did not take this into account, since it wasn’t seen as necessary before Google’s algorithm update.

Another common factor that affects your loading speed is using templates or preset themes instead of a custom-coded/designed website.

Even though the cost of templated websites is generally less than a custom-coded website, templates tend to come with additional features built into the theme that is not integrated with your website’s success. These additional features take more time to load, leading to users waiting for your page to load.

On the contrary, building a website from scratch can help ensure that your website includes only the essentials. Therefore, it can run faster without having to load unnecessary code. 

How to improve page speed?

Four quick things you can do to speed up your page loading:

  1. Minimize Files: your website is made up of JavaScript, CSS, and HTML files. These files are essential, however, they add a number of requests that your site has to make back to your server when users load your page.   The Fix: Have a clean-up by removing all whitespace from these files, ensure that the files are as small as possible. As well as, deleting duplicate coding and content. Removing all unnecessary coding formatting, and white space throughout your files will increase page speed.
  2. Optimize Images: people tend to upload massive image files, resulting in extremely low page speed. The Fix: Reduce pixels, resize, and crop pictures to the exact size needed on your site. You can adjust your website images through software (like Photoshop) to save the quality of the picture while reducing the space it takes up on your site.
  3. Combine and Defer JavaScript: Javascript files are very large and can prohibit content from quickly loading on your page. The Fix: Defer JavaScript from loading until all content and items on your site have loaded first.
  4. Upgrade Your Web Server: your server bandwidth is a huge factor in page loading speed. When your website is hosted on a shared server, the bandwidth-limited; many shared hosting servers have 200+ sites, which slows down the response time. The Fix: Switching to a VPS or dedicated server allows your website to have the bandwidth it needs to be quick and efficient with loading.

Don’t forget the small stuff

As exciting as it is to create a website to represent your brand and capture your audience. Don’t forget that the backend of a website is just as important as the presentation of it. Even though 2 seconds of page speed lag seems minuscule, optimizing speed and efficiency will help provide and communicate quality to your audience. Small details can make a huge difference in reaching your audience. 

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