Website Speed or Why Google Hates Slow Websites
More than 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
And they are never going back or recommending it to anyone. Google even lowers your rankings if the website is slow and non-responsive for a while.
I realized how important the website’s speed is more than 3 years ago. One of my websites lost search engine visibility (rankings) because it was too slow several days in a row. It was deadly slow, 10-15+ seconds on average page load.
The traffic decreased by more than 50%
My reaction was lightning fast.
- I fixed all code problems.
- Optimized all image files for the web.
- Installed a content delivery network (CDN).
Loading times decreased to healthy 2,5 seconds, but my rankings and traffic didn’t improve immediately.
Once Google slaps you for slow loading performance, it usually takes a while before you recover. Even if you fix every issue right away.
Google takes the website’s speed seriously. They actually announced it as a ranking signal 4 years ago on Webmaster Central Blog. If you are too busy to read it, there are just two sentences which are enough.
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. Site speed reflects how quickly a website responds to web requests.
They even filed a patent request.
Do you still think a website’s speed is Not a Big Deal?
83% of users expect sites to load in 3 seconds or less but the median load time of the top 500 eCommerce home pages is 10 seconds.
(I spot an opportunity here)
A 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.
The behavior of dissatisfied online shoppers
- 44% are more likely to develop a negative perception of the company
- 79% are less likely to buy from the site again
- 46% would actively tell their friends and family about the experience.
Read further: Best E-commerce Website Builders Compared
Slow page speed negatively affects:
- User’s experience
Slow sites are even slower on mobile
I’ve been around different countries, and mobile data is shamefully slow quite often. Even in the UK and the United States.
The number of mobile-broadband subscriptions reaches 2.3 billion, with 55% of them in developing countries.
Let’s hear what experts think about it:
Where to Start
Optimize your images
The fastest way to reduce your image size:
Tinypng.com – Web-based tool, which uses smart lossy compression techniques to reduce the size of your PNG file.
They have a nice WordPress plugin to do the job automatically.
Compressor.io – Compress and optimize your images Up to 90% file size reduction. Supports 4 file formats – JPEG – PNG – GIF – SVG.
WP Smush.it – Reduce image file sizes and improve performance using the Smush.it API within WordPress.
Photoshop save for web tool – A detailed video guide on how to optimize your images with Photoshop from Adobe.
What else affects your website’s speed:
- Avoid a character set in the meta tag
- Avoid bad requests
- Avoid CSS @import
- Avoid landing page redirects
- Combine images using CSS sprites
- Enable gzip compression
- Enable Keep-Alive
- Inline small CSS
- Leverage browser caching
- Minify CSS
- Minify HTML
- Minimize redirects
- Minimize request size
- Optimize images
- Optimize the order of styles and scripts
- Prefer asynchronous resources
- Put CSS in the document head
- Remove query strings from static resources
- Serve resources from a consistent URL
- Serve scaled images
- Specify a cache validator
- Specify a character set early
- Specify a Vary: Accept-Encoding header
- Specify image dimensions
Too much to process for a non-technical person right? No worries. There are two great tools that will do the job for free.
Gtmetrix – uses Google Page Speed and Yahoo! YSlow to grade your site’s performance and provides actionable recommendations to fix these issues.
Gtmetrix allows you to compare the performance of up to 4 URLs.
Note: We already talked with Brian Dean, who runs Backlinko.com a few days ago and he already improved his speed.
Pingdom Website Speed Test – Speed Test, DNS Health Ping, and Traceroute (measure server response time). They offer real user monitoring services which I highly recommend. They show your website’s loading times distribution in different locations.
According to Google recommendations, your server response time must be below 200ms. Learn more at PageSpeed Insights.
If you run on WordPress, you can implement all recommendations with just a few free plugins.
W3 Total Cache – Dramatically improves the speed and user experience of your site. Add browser, page, object, and database caching.
WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast – Moderate post titles and descriptions, robots meta configuration, canonical URLs, breadcrumbs, permalink clean up, XML sitemaps, RSS enhancements, and more.
Bad Behavior – Deny automated spambots access to your PHP-based Web site. These bots eat your hosting resources, browse your website and slow it down.
Extremely aggressive bots could even bring down your website if your hosting is not good enough to handle all the requests.
BJ Lazy Load or Advanced lazy load – For image-heavy websites. Every image is another HTTP request. Lazy loading can significantly speed up your site.
You need reliable hosting because website’s up-time is crucial.
There are 3 popular options:
Shared hosting – For starters on a budget. Before you pick your hosting do research online about their support and uptime.
WordPress Hosting – Most WordPress hosts are good, but do research and find the best option for you.
Dedicated Server – When you start to get insane traffic it is time to jump on one of these bad guys.
Speed up your website with CDN
Serious online businesses use – CDN (Content delivery network)
How CDN works? A basic explanation – CDN provider stores your website’s files on multiple servers across different geographic locations.
For example, you host your website in the United States. A visitor from the United Kingdom visits your website. Your CDN provider has a server in Germany.
It will load your website’s files from the German server for that visitor, not from the U.S. This will improve significantly your website’s loading times.
If you are on the budget shared hosting and CDN is a great way to get ahead of your competition.
We are overwhelmed with information. Millions of blog posts are published each day. Social networks like Facebook have 1,500-15,000 stories that could appear in person’s news feed each time they log in.
People don’t have time to wait. Improve your website’s speed today.