Site speed is a ranking factor for Google. It may not be quite as important as backlinks but it can still play a part in deciding how well your website ranks. It could yet get more important, too. As Google starts to put more emphasis on mobile search, speed will undoubtedly play a much bigger role in how websites are judged by the big G.
That’s why we are devoting this article to looking at site speed, what a slow site can mean for you, how you can test your speed and how you can improve it.
Here’s why a slow site could hurt
There are a few reasons why a slow site could hurt your rankings. Firstly, as we have talked about above, a slow site will be penalized by Google. If sites of roughly the same quality are faster than yours, Google will rank them higher. Google is insisting that sites be quick so that users get the best experience possible.
More importantly than this, however, a site speed can also hurt your crawling rate. This will mean it takes longer for Google to rank your pages. Finally, a slow site will also cause a bad user experience for your visitors. That could mean that they leave the site immediately, before a page loads. A high bounce rate is also used by Google, so in many ways, a slow site can have a double whammy effect on your rankings.
What tools can you use to test site speed?
There are several tools that you can use to test how fast your website is. We recommend the following:
- Pingdom Speed Test
- Google PageSpeed
Pingdom is probably the best tool listed above because it shows you how long each part of your website takes to load, how you could improve it and it lets you test from different parts of the world. That being said, you should utilize all of them.
How to improve your site’s speed
If you think your website is running slow, there are a couple of tactics you can use to speed things up.
Reduce your image sizes
One culprit for a slow page load may be the size of your images. High-quality images can often be quite a large file size and cause a page to load slowly. By using a site like Kraken.io, you can shrink your image sizes before uploading them.
Add a caching plugin to WordPress
There a couple of plugins you can use for WordPress to speed up your site. One is WP Super Cache. It is pretty good and it’s free. A better option is WP Rocket, but you have to pay for this tool.
Add a CDN to your website
Finally, you can add a Content Delivery Service to your website. A CDN allows you to serve content faster to your visitors by storing the content on servers that are nearer to them. So if your hosting is based in New York and you have visitors in the UK, a CDN could store your site’s contents on a server based in London.