How to Increase Site Speed and Boost Your Rankings

On April 9, 2010, in its own Webmaster Blog, Google announced the following:

“You may have heard that here at Google we’re obsessed with speed, in our products and on the web. As part of that effort, today we’re including a new signal in our search ranking algorithms: site speed.”  

As SEOs, we don’t know to what degree site speed is incorporated in Google’s search rankings, but we do know Google prefers websites that offer a great user experience.  And one thing users will always want is websites that load fast.

If you use Google’s PageSpeed Tool, Google analyzes your site and tells you exactly what your score is.  Ideally you receive a score of 90 or above.  If your score isn’t quite what you want it to be, there are a number of things you can do to improve it.

How to Increase Your Site’s Load Speed

For purposes of this post, I’ll give you tips for websites that have a CMS, and for those that don’t.  If your site isn’t powered by a CMS like WordPress, you should get one, because it makes the management of your website much, much easier.

Here are a few things you can do to increase your site’s load speed:

Compress images – Images chew up much of the bandwidth when any site loads.  Do use images on your site, but keep their use to a minimum.  When you do use images, make sure they’re compressed.  You can reduce the size of an image by 50 – 60% while not hurting the image quality at all.

Avoid flash – For some big-name websites, using flash is okay.  They’re super-popular, have a dedicated audience, and the load-time of their sites isn’t so long that too many people will never visit again.  But for smaller websites floating below the radar of most people, avoid using flash.  Flash takes a fair amount of bandwidth up, and it’s also difficult to optimize websites with flash.

Use the W3 Total Cache plugin – This one applies to WordPress users only.  This plugin helps automate complex processes like:

  • Browser caching (keeps a copy of the web page on your hard disk for faster access)
  • Page caching (stores posts/pages as static files instead of loading on each visit for much faster access)
  • Minimizing scripts (plugins like to use a lot of them and this plugin reduces their usage)
  • Cache database functions (updating your WP DB and accessing can chew up significant bandwidth, and this plugin minimizes that)

It Seems Strange In the Era of High Bandwidth…

But, this still makes a large difference in terms of user experience.  Desktop bandwidth is consistently fast, but you have to keep in mind more people are using mobile devices.  Mobile bandwidth, on average, doesn’t download at the same speed as desktop bandwidth.  So, it’s just good that you accommodate all devices.  Someday, bandwidth will be much faster and these things won’t be such a big deal, but until then…do everything you can to keep your site’s load speed fast!

Last Updated on October 3, 2013 by Dan Stelter

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