Page Speed – What It Is, Why It’s Important & How To Fix It

Did you know that slow page load times can decrease page views by 11% and lead to a 7% fall in conversions? Can you afford to lose that kind of business? Luckily the digital experts from Melbourne’s premier SEO agency are here to help.

When it comes to ecommerce, there needs to be a balance between functionality and aesthetics. Visiting a great looking website with poor page speed can be more than enough to torpedo a sale. Imagine the amount of revenue you would be losing by losing just one prospective customer! All your hard SEO work could be for nothing if your customers aren’t willing to wait around while your pages load. 

What is Page Speed?

Page speed (or page load time) is the time taken for the content on a web page to fully load. It is also called Time to First Byte, which means the time taken by a browser to get the initial byte of data from the server.

Page speed needs to be lightning-fast because it can also affect your site’s ranking on Google. And there are reasons for it. All your marketing efforts get wasted if most prospects bounce even before seeing the website content.

How to Evaluate Page Speed?

This can be done with Google’s PageSpeed Insights. The score is calculated using the data from Chrome User Experience Report. Two speed metrics are used to calculate it—First Contentful Paint & DOMContentLoaded.

Another tool is Lighthouse. It is an automated, open-source tool made to improve the quality of web pages. It can be run against a public web page or the one that needs authentication.

Then there’s TestMySite. It gives a detailed report about your website performance. It has an added feature wherein an approximate figure of total revenue lost due to your websites’ poor loading times is arrived at. Choose this tool if you wish to justify the developer hours invested in improving a website’s speed.

The fourth tool is GTmetrix. It gives a lot of detailed suggestions on how to improve the webpage loading speed. It shows reports from Yslow & Google. The tool also shows graphs so that you can identify the bottlenecks.

Google has also introduced a new mobile speed score. More than 50% of the web traffic is on mobile. Still, on average, a web page takes about 15 seconds to load. Thus, this score needs to be optimised.

Why is Page Speed important?

Page speed affects the overall user experience. Even a second’s delay has an impact and it’s important to remember that Google also takes into account page load times.

Page speed can also help to breed customer loyalty. When a customer gets a pleasant experience while navigating your website, there is a good chance that they will come back again.

What is the crawl budget?

Google has its resources allocated to crawl every website. The longer it takes to crawl your website, the fewer pages are crawled. Thus, fewer results of your business are shown, which is bad. In other words, if Google does not index a page, it will not be ranked.

But you need to be concerned about this only if:

  1. There are many redirects on your website.
  2. Your site is big. So if, say, it has 10,000 pages, Google may not be able to find them all.
  3. You recently added multiple pages to your website.

How To Optimise Page Speed?

These are the best practices you must follow:

1.       Compress the page size(s)

Data is loaded from your server to the user’s browser. The more data on your site, the slower it will load. Another disadvantage is that even if it loads quickly, it may perform inconsistently.

Worst case scenario: If a number of users try to load a large page at the same time, the website will load at a snail’s pace for everyone.

So, keep this metric down. Aim for 1mb. If possible, aim for a lesser size but without compromising on UX or site content.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Minify CSS & JS files

This will amalgamate them and reduce their size, so less data will be used.

  1. Use Gzip compression

By using this basic trick, you can reduce the time at which the website page loads by a whopping 75%! Simply open IIS Manager and visit the website you want to compress. Then, click on compression (under IIS). Finally, enable static compression, and you’re all set!

Also, high-resolution images can be compressed by 60% to 80%. As per Google, faster is better and less is more.

  1. Use average-sized images

Oversized images adversely impact the page speed. Also, don’t forget to compress the images.

2. Employ Browser Caching

Through this, the earlier-loaded resources are remembered. The reason being that they don’t need to be reloaded over and over when a user visits the site. This will increase page speed and you don’t need to be a coding expert to employ it. You can use a simple plugin like W3 Total Cache.

3. Implement Accelerated Mobile Pages

AMP is a project started by Google so that mobile pages can load faster. What it does is that it removes all needless content, and thus your website loads much faster on your mobile.

Another feature of AMP is that you can read many articles at once and do not need to click the back button.

4. Reduce the number of requests

Elements in a webpage, including CSS, HTML, JavaScripts, images, fonts, etc., are used by a browser to request a file from a server. The trick is to decrease the quantity of these requests:

  • Make a sprite sheet of images

All images are merged into one file. Different portions of one file are displayed on various parts of a page using CSS wizardry.

  • Don’t call unused fonts, scripts, and stylesheets

This is an issue you’ll find in many CMS’s, such as WordPress. It will significantly reduce your HTTP requests.

5. Optimise the number of redirects

An increased number of redirects slows the web page loading time. So limit them as much as possible. But do not do this when your site is moving to a new domain. To identify the incorrect redirects on your website, use the Patrick Sexton Redirect mapper tool.

Then, there’s the Screaming Frog tool that serves the same purpose.

6. Insert the trailing slash

If you visit a URL without any trailing slash, the server will keep looking for the file until it finds it. And if not found, it will keep searching in the directory’s other default files. In other words, when you don’t include the omit slash, the server keeps searching for a long time. This makes it unnecessarily execute a 301 redirect.

So, include the slash to tell the server to stop searching for something that isn’t even there!

7. Take advantage of a Content Delivery Network

As these cache content internationally, such networks significantly reduce the page load times. It is the best choice if your web page serves locations across the world. Google Cloud CDN and Cloudflare are some options you can try. Also, CDN servers are located farther from the host and closer to the audience. Thus, a faster page loading speed is achieved.

8. Choose the right web hosting service

When it comes to hosting services, it’s worth investing properly. Do not compromise here. To get an optimised page speed, choose a hosting plan that can handle your website traffic. These are the choices if you have a limited budget:

  1. VPS Hosting

If you wish to reap the most benefits of a server at a comparatively low cost, this is the ideal choice. Such a setup mimics server environments within a shared server. The best part is that shared hosting does not affect your performance. This is because storage and bandwidth have already been allocated.

However, dedicated server hosting is the best option if you can afford it.

  1. Cloud hosting

As opposed to traditional hosting, a network of physical and virtual cloud servers host the website. The business is only required to pay for the resources used by it. This setup promotes more flexibility and scalability.

All things said, these methods will benefit you only if you have rightly identified your brand’s customised needs as per its type and size. As they say, to get the right solution, first identify the problem. And then leave no stone unturned in doing what’s best for your business.