There are various factors that influence search engine results. Usually, these factors are either related to on page SEO (the Title tags, Meta Description, URL structure, and headers, etc.) or off page SEO (number and quality of inbound links, etc.). In 2010, Google announced page speed aka website loading speed would be one of the search engine ranking factor. In simple words: the speed at which someone could view the content from a search result would be a factor.
Google has been intentionally unclear on the exact definition of “site speed”. Also, further adding to the mystery, Google’s Matt Cutts announced that slow-performing mobile sites may soon suffer lower search rankings.
The answer is fairly obvious. A poor performing website results in a poor user experience. Therefore, a slow performing website deserve less promotion in search results.
This is not to say that it is the single most important factor. Relevant content is still the single most important factor. Hence a slower website may still rank higher than a faster website if its content is more relevant, and richer. Then comes the next big question:
High Page Load Time Can Drastically Decrease Conversions:
Google conducted an individual study on load times and their effect on conversions. The study found that just a 0.5 second increase in load time caused a 20% decrease in traffic. Amazon conducted an internal study to determine how a website’s load time affected its sales. They discovered that for every 100 ms increase in load time, their business saw a 1% decrease in sales. And it translates to a loss of millions of dollars in a year.
Here are some facts based on research done by Akamai and Gomez.com :
The following infographic details the effects of loading time on user conversions:
Most websites are built on WordPress platform. The following factors are important before and while building your website:
Note: The following information applies to some new websites as well.
There are many best practices with regards to improve loading times. A good theme certainly helps a lot. However, custom web design, content, plugins, SSL certificate, etc. may cause the website to slow down.
Do not use gzip on image files. Rely on a good plugin to compress image after it is uploaded to your WordPress website.
Minify means optimizing your code (including removing spaces, commas, and other unnecessary characters). It can increase your page speed. A Good Hosting service provides you with the option to minify the code in cPanel.
Each time a page redirects to another page, your visitor faces additional time waiting for the HTTP request-response cycle to complete. For example, if your mobile redirect pattern looks like this: “example.com -> www.example.com -> m.example.com -> m.example.com/home,” each of those two additional redirects makes your page load slower. Intelligent DNS records may help you with reducing redirects. Also never reference URLs in your pages that are known to redirect to other URLs.
Server response time depends on a good Hosting Service, and the hosting plan you choose. Because hosting plan decides how much resources (CPU, RAM, and bandwidth) your webpages may utilize at a given time. However, some server response time issues may be related to design. So there may be performance bottlenecks like slow database queries, slow routing, etc. The optimal server response time is under 200ms. Learn more technical details about optimizing your time to first byte.
Consider the image size before you upload it to your website. Also consider the right image format. Notably, PNGs are generally better for icons, favicons, etc. while JPEGs are generally better for photographs. Image may not look good below a particular file size. Hence use plugins for compression and reduce their size further. While they are compressed on server and delivered such to user, they are presented in decompressed form on user’s system.
Another good way to optimize images is to combine them into one large image that loads at once. The images would be frequently used on your site like buttons and icons. This results in fewer HTTP requests and faster load time. CSS sprites must be used to accomplish this.
Following technical video details best practices for Page Speed. You are assumed to have CSS, Script, etc. technical knowledge. Nonetheless, it is a good video by Google.
Then there are HTTP Keepalives and Critical Rendering Path. Look for them below in suggested read.
Page speed diagnostics