How to Improve SEO by Speeding Up Your Website’s Load Time

Google’s PageRank algorithm has long considered the speed at which a website loads in one’s browser to be an SEO ranking factor. In July 2018, Google’s webmasters went a step further by making page speed a ranking signal across all mobile devices as well. In other words, the faster your page loads, the better your website’s SEO performance.

Website owners should always bear in mind that Google is dedicated to making the web a better place for everyone. Small wonder that Google is intent upon rewarding lightweight websites that effortlessly load in a visitor’s desktop browser or smartphone as opposed to heavy, clunky sites laden with scripts and video overlays—Internet users simply want more of the former and less of the latter. 

In 2020, your website’s SEO is determined by the quality of its user’s experience. To boost your site’s ranking overnight, the best thing you can do is optimize its load time by reducing heavy elements and cleaning up clunky scripts. To get you started, let’s go over a few of the tried and true techniques for speeding up website load times. 

Test Your Website With A Page Speed Audit

If you’re wondering how your page measures up with your competitors, consider running a 30-second page speed audit. Free web tools such as Which Loads Faster allow webmasters to compare their website’s average load speed against their top-ranking competitors in a matter of seconds. A well-made website will load faster than one with a poor, file-heavy design.

Running a brief page speed audit should give you a starting point in determining where improvements can be made to your page speed, if at all. If you find that your page loads faster than your competitors’, then you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that your page speed isn’t what’s holding your website back from the coveted first search engine results page (SERP). 

An analysis of 5.2 million websites found that the average page speed was 1.29 seconds in desktop browsers and 2.59 seconds on mobile devices. Therefore, you should aim to keep your website’s page speed under this pivotal benchmark if you want Google to reward you with a PageRank boost.

Improving Your Load Time: 6 Simple Tips

Looking for an easy method to boost your website’s page speed? Below, we’ve listed a few of the simplest yet most effective tactics for shaving off unnecessary loading time and improving your visitor’s user experience. 

1. Cut Down Image Sizes

Large, high-resolution images are anathema to website speed. If you cannot outright remove the image altogether, then you should at least compress the image to a smaller size. For instance, compressing a 1.1MB JPEG image into a 23KB file constitutes a reduction of 98% and only takes a few seconds. The result is a massive, multi-second improvement in page speed. 

2. Slash Your Server Response Time

Most of the time involved in loading a website is taken up by your visitor’s device finding the IP address of your page’s URL. This a process known as Domain Name System (DNS) lookup. Fortunately, you can reduce your server’s DNS lookup response time by choosing a faster DNS provider. This chart demonstrates how some service providers, such as Verizon and Microsoft, offer faster DNS lookup times than others.

3. Don’t Synchronously Load CSS and JavaScript

All modern websites utilize CSS and JavaScript elements to make the page visually appealing and responsive. However, that doesn’t mean they have to slow down your page speed. Choosing to load each of these elements separately, known as “asynchronous” loading, can drastically reduce the amount of time it takes for your page to load in a visitor’s browser. You can save changes to your CSS and JavaScript load processes using the WP Rocket plugin

4. Combine Multiple Files into One

Your website gets pummeled with HTTP requests every day. Every time your website’s visitors load your website, your site is served with an independent HTTP request for every element, including the stylesheets, images, text, and JavaScript elements. Fortunately, you can cut back the number of HTTP requests that your website receives by combining multiple files into one.

Using a templated website building suite, such as Wix or Squarespace, can wreak havoc on your load times because they rarely combine site elements. To minimize the number of HTTP requests you receive and speed up your overall page speed, use plugins like WP Rocket and configure the “Static Files” tab where you can select HTML, CSS, fonts, and Javascript files to minify and merge. 

5. Turn Off Render-Blocking in JavaScript

According to Google’s PageSpeed Insights report, the search engine prefers when websites don’t block JavaScript. To speed up website load time, some websites choose to block JavaScript rendering altogether. 

Savvy website owners, however, should remember that Google always strives to improve the user experience. If you turn off JavaScript, your website won’t be as visually appealing nor responsive as it otherwise would be. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to keep JavaScript rendering active, even at the cost of a second or two of page speed.

6. Utilize Browser Caching

Your web browser has the power to store much of your website’s data in its cache memory. Everything from JavaScript files to stylesheets can be retained in a browser’s cache, which means your entire website’s data won’t have to be reloaded every time you refresh or load the page. Fortunately, you can leverage tools and plugins like YSlow to extend or turn the expiration time for your website’s cache memory retention. 

Trim the Fat, Reap the Benefits

A heavy, slow-moving website kills conversions and can tank your SEO results. Luckily for you, there are straightforward steps you can take to improve your website’s page speed and, in turn, get a boost in PageRank so you can land a more visible position on Google’s first or second SERP. 

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