Page speed is both a ranking factor in search engines and an important factor in increasing conversions. In addition, in a world where everything happens on the screen of a mobile phone, your site or app must load at lightning speeds if you don’t want to lose people’s attention.
Google and SEO specialists have a few tips they recommend for making sure site speed is up to par, but there are other things site owners can do. In today’s article, we’ll focus on speeding up WordPress sites for SEO purposes, but some of the tips are available for other CMS platforms as well.
Site Speed & SEO Implications
Do you know how your site is ranking in terms of page speed? You can easily check using the Page Speed Insights tool provided by Google (free to use for everyone).
The result can tell you about load page times and resources, scripts, or other elements that may be improved to get it to move faster. But, before you make any changes or you give your site admin an earful, let’s talk about why this metric is important from an SEO point of view.
Ranking in SERP
Google’s Algorithm Speed Update made it clear that loading speed is a crucial ranking factor in the search engine results page for both desktop and mobile searches. After the update, many slow-loading pages lost their ranking even though they were employing efficient SEO strategies.
The bounce rate is notorious among SEO specialists as it indicates users’ interest on the site and overall content. When compared to the page speed, it was proven that people tend to lose interest in pages that take longer than 3 seconds to load!
So, if you want to make sure that people even reach your content, it’s best to work on the site’s speed (especially relevant for mobile platforms).
How to Boost Speed [3 Easy-to-Do Steps]
Basically, if you want your site to be found by the right audience, you will have to work on speed. Luckily, you don’t have to be an SEO or coding genius to do so (but if you want to learn more, there are some amazing PHP training courses for everyone).
Now, it may be difficult to reach the recommended 3s or lower rule, but the tips below may be helpful in making your site faster than your competitors’.
#1: Choose the Right Hosting
Everything starts with the web hosting provider and the plan you select for your site. After all, if the server where your site is hosted has trouble loading it, there’s not much you can do to speed things up.
As such, before you select a provider, check how it fares with other online businesses your size. Try to find online reviews from real users and make sure to read carefully the terms of services and conditions for each package they offer.
Also, check to see if they support the database and CMS you plan on using. While most providers support WP nowadays, things may be a bit more complicated if you want to add an eCommerce plugin that needs high-speed bandwidth.
#2: Choose the Right WP Theme
The WP theme can also be an impediment, especially if you select one that is free. These themes can have background elements that have difficulties loading or worse, vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited.
Just like with the hosting service, never select a theme you can’t verify with other users! Also, always check to see if the developer is reliable and can offer technical support after purchase.
#3: Compress Images
Images, graphic elements, and video content are among the best tools to make the page more attractive. Sadly, they also take a lot of space (especially at high resolution) and can take a lot to load.
Luckily, if you’re using WP, you can install a plugin like Smush and all your problems will disappear. This plugin compresses large images without damaging their quality, which will have an impact on site speed.
In conclusion, we need faster websites to keep our audience and even increase it. In an online world where everyone is used to get immediate results, pages that are not optimized for speed will slowly fade away on page 2+ of SERPs.