A slow page load time doesn’t just cause visitors to hit the back button, it can also affect your rankings.
Google announced it was including site speed in its ranking algorithms as far back as last year. At that time, Matt Cutts at Google clarified that it is only one of 200 factors that the search engine considers and that it doesn’t weigh as much as relevance, reputation, etc. But it still carries weight—and could possibly be a determining factor when sites are close in some of the more important factors.
One year later, some Google actions confirm the significance of page load time
A few weeks ago Google introduced Page Speed Online, a performance analysis tool, which gives developers suggestions on how to decrease load time. This week the search engine giant unveiled a new Page Speed Online API that allows developers to integrate this performance analysis into other tools and dashboards.
Page speed matters for conversions and web visibility. Is your site fast enough?
How to check your page load time
Google’s Webmaster Tools is one way to take a look at your load time—over time. Click on the Diagnostics tab, then Crawl Stats to view a chart that highlights your high, low and average load times over a few months time period. For real time load time, check out Web Page Test.
How to reduce your page load time
Page Speed Online and Web Page Test, which are both FREE, can provide some eye opening information in terms of time and how you can shave it off – but you will probably need your web developer to explain the recommendations and make the changes. Although, Web Page Test gives a grade, so even non-techies can see where the problems lie. So do the tests and talk to your web developer about what they reveal.
Here are some general things you can do to increase your page speed:
1. GZIP Compression. See if your site’s host uses this form of compression, which can really speed up your load time.
2. Reduce the size of your images. But make sure you use a graphics program such as Photoshop or Smush.it to do so.
3. Cache your pages. This avoids the need for the browser to dynamically generate your page every time. Some content management systems, such as Joomla and WordPress, allow you to do this.
4. Limit your use of 301 redirects. And don’t pile them.
5. Combining CSS / Java Scripts. Load them in external files rather than putting them on every page so that the browser only has to load them one time instead every time someone visits each page.
6. Try a Content Delivery Network.