What is page speed?
Page speed can be measured in two ways. One is “time to first byte”, a byte is a unit of memory and time to first byte refers to the speed of which the first byte of information goes from a website’s server to a browser. The other way of measuring page speed is assessing the time it takes for a webpage to render all of its content. Pictures, text and code all takes time to load onto a page in order for it to be usable and displaying as intended. Whichever way you are measuring it, page speed is important for both search engine rankings and user engagement.
Page speed as a ranking factor
Page speed is a known ranking factor, with Google announcing in 2010 they would be using it as one of the many signals of a webpage’s relevancy to a search query. What they did not clarify, however, was which measure of site speed they would be using, time to first byte, or full render. A study in 2013 suggested that the load speed that had a close correlation with ranking was in fact, the time to first byte.
It is clear however, that no matter which way they measure load speed the search engines are primarily concerned with serving search results which provide a good user experience and the load speed of a page is something that users care about. It is one of the most frustrating aspects of using the internet and consumers are getting less patient in waiting for a webpage to load. It is claimed that a one-second delay in page load speed time can result in as much as a 7% drop in conversions.
Measuring webpage load speed
There are several ways to empirically measure a webpage’s load speed. Google’s own Page Speed Insights gives an overview of how well your site is optimised for speed, and their new mobile speed checker (below) will even give an approximation of the percentage of users you might be losing due to your mobile site’s load speed.
Methods of improving load speed
Some of the common ways of increasing the load speed of your site include:
- Using CDNs
- Making sure your images are the correct size
- File compression
- Minifying code
- Reducing font variations
There are a lot of ways that site speed can be improved, what is important to note is that it is not only crucial for ranking, but for conversion also.
In order to speed up your site on mobile, you may need the support of a mobile SEO company.