Page speed refers to the amount of time a page needs to be completely loaded. Page speed depends on many different factors, from host to design and can be optimized. In fact, load time does matter for both users and search engines. Users are less likely to stay on a website that takes ages to load and Google will certainly penalize your website for being too slow. Also, a fast website also converts better.
Page Speed Matters to Google
2010 was the year where Google announced it was going to regard page speed as a ranking signal. Google is focusing since a few years on delivering the best onsite user experience possible.
Page speed comes in that logic. Actually, if a site loads fast, chances are better that users will remain on your website as they will experience something positive (of course other elements need to be considered to offer the best experience possible). While Google seems to reward fast-ranking website it won’t hurt your rankings drastically, unless your website is very slow. In 2010, Google was stated that only 1% of search engine results get penalized by the page speed factor.
Page Speed Matters to Visitors
While page speed is important to Google and for your rankings, it does also impact your user experience. And it is not a secret that a positive user experience often leads to better conversions.
A fast website creates a good user experience in many different ways:
- if you sell a product, having fast pages will help your visitors quickly understand what you have to offer and complete your order forms.
- if you generate revenues thanks to advertising on your content, a fast website will ease your visitors to navigate from page to page and will increase your total of page views per user.
Actually, pagespeed relies on different elements. But for some types of websites, like ecommerce ones, pagespeed should be your top priority as a bad one could cost you a lot. For instance, Walmart found out they were the fastest retail website compared to sites like Amazon or eBay. They decided to increase even more their speed performances and it results that:
- ‘For every 1 second of improvement they experienced up to a 2% increase in conversions
- For every 100 ms of improvement, they grew incremental revenue by up to 1%’ (source)
Thus, a small decrease can result in significant loss of conversion rate as people will be more likely to abandon their shipping or exit your website.
As we said above, an efficient page speed relies on different optimizations. In the other hand, a poor load time results from:
- Unoptimized browser, app and plugins: App using Flash for instance can seriously lower your page speed. Also, you should test your website on different browsers to see how it behaves.
- Cheap web host: Actually, your host performances depends on the price you are ready to give. On the long run, a cheap host could lead to low pagespeed performances. You need to pick your host regarding your business size.
- Complicated theme: The theme you choose impact your website performance and your load time. Actually, some theme are pretty heavy and will lower your page speed if they contain too much effects and designs.
- Too many ads: Beside bothering your visitors, a bunch of ads will just lower your page speed.
- Heavy images: Some HD images can seriously lower your page speed. It is better to compress your visuals under PNG to maintain their quality while lowering their weight. For logos or pictograms, you can use JPEG instead.
- Widgets: Social buttons, comments area, calendars or other widgets do impact your page speed.
- Dense code: Your HTML/CSS code impacts your load time. Clean up your code to perform better.
- Embedded media: Video from outside websites can be valuable but can also lower your page speed. You could save those videos on your host to save time.
How to Analyze Your Page Speed
There are many tools to help you analyze your page speed performances. Here is a selection of the best ones.
That free tool is pretty famous as it delivers insights about your load time issues. From bad CSS to images to browser caching to plugins, PageSpeed Insights analyzes most important factors that can damage your load time stability for both desktop and mobile website.
Another relevant tool that provides feedbacks on your page speed. Its graphs quickly show you which files are lowering your performances. Also it offers a ‘Performance Tips’ area with relevant infos.
With that tool, you can pick a location from where you want to load your website. You can thus optimize your page speed for different devices or locations.
This onpage crawler offers, beside other actionable functionalities, a page speed analyzer. You can access a clear view of your load time performances by page depth, your weight distribution and see in details which URLs are lowering your load time. There is a 30 days trial.
Emma Labrador is a Communication and Marketing Officer for Cogniteev. She writes for different marketing and SEO blogs. Connect with her on Twitter.