How quickly does your site load? You might not realise it, but the speed of your website is a big factor in search engine success. If you haven’t already done so, it’s really important to test your site speed and make sure it’s within healthy levels, as part of your overall SEO strategy. Here, we’ll show you how.
Why does loading time matter?
Slow-loading sites can be annoying for your users, who won’t have the patience to wait more than a few seconds to find what they need. You’ve probably been on the receiving end of an irritatingly slow progress bar yourself. And when that’s happened, you’ve probably done what most of your own users will do in the same situation – abandoning the transaction and heading back to Google to find a site that can better serve your needs.
Google and other search engines aim to serve up search results that deliver the content people need, when they need it. Slow sites don’t tend to do this as well as their speedier competitors, as every second counts in the quest for results. If Google sees that your site isn’t loading quickly, or that you have a high ‘bounce rate’ as people click on your site and then immediately click the ‘Back’ button, its latest algorithms will take note (and penalise you accordingly).
Things that might make your site load slowly
There are a number of factors that can affect your site speed. These can include:
- If there’s a piece of code that is telling your browser to go from one page to another before the page loads, this will increase your loading time. Many redirects are important for the functionality of your site, especially if you’ve just moved to a new domain, but others may not be needed.
- Too much code. Behind the scenes, there might be a lot of extra text in your website’s code, which doesn’t need to be there.
- Big files. Graphics and videos can take up a great deal of space. When they are published online, however, they can be compressed without significantly affecting their quality. If you are using uncompressed files, this might make your site too slow.
These are just some of the culprits when it comes to slow loading time.
How to measure the speed of your website
Luckily, it’s easy to check how quickly your site is loading, to identify whether there is a problem that needs addressing. A free tool called GTmetrix will analyse your site speed, telling you how long each page you measure is taking to load and how big they are. Importantly, it will also tell you how well your site is performing, compared to other sites.
Not all websites will achieve this, but it’s good to aim for pages to load in 3 seconds or less. If it is routinely taking longer than 10 seconds for your site to load, there’s likely to be a problem that needs attention.
Article authored by Cheryl Luzet, SEO Resident Expert at The Outsourcing Way.