According to Google’s recommendations, the first block of information on the page should appear no later than in 2.5 seconds. This figure reflects not so much the wishes of the search engine as the requirements of consumers.
People are not ready to wait at the monitors for tens of seconds until the content appears on the screen. Moreover, if the page loads longer than 10 seconds, this is a signal that there is a problem, and a reason to leave for a potential client.
For these reasons, business owners and administrators are looking for ways to increase the loading speed of the website and demand clean HTML code from webdesign agencies.
In the article, we will analyze what site speed is, why it is important to optimize the loading speed of the site and what means will help speed up the loading of the page.
What is page load speed?
Page load speed is the time it takes to display the content of a page in the browser. This is the time between clicking on a link and the moment you saw the content on the monitor.
The user’s idea of site speed is affected by:
• the time it takes to send HTML content from the hosting provider’s server to the browser;
• Response of the browser to a request to load the page;
• subjective impression of how the content appears on the page.
Let’s take a closer look at why the speed of loading the site is important for business and what it affects.
Why website downloading speed is important
The speed of loading the site affects the behavior of visitors, brand loyalty and the ranking of the site in the SERPs. As a result, the profitability of the business is also indirectly related to the speed of the site.
Remember your experience on different Internet resources. It is pleasant and convenient to go from page to page, view products when they are loaded in just a couple of seconds. When text and pictures are loaded for longer than 10 seconds, you want to leave such a site. For video content, the slow operation of the site threatens to fail.
Let’s look at the factors that are associated with the speed of loading a page.
Conversion. To get to the cart and make an order, the buyer must be comfortable on the site. If the pages take a long time to open, the consumer’s communication with your brand may end at the stage of acquaintance or product search. It’s not just about a one-time purchase. According to a survey by technology company Akamai, between 45 and 87 percent of users won’t return to the site if the first experience was unsuccessful.
Indexing of pages. In addition to SEO settings for indexing, loading speed is important. The faster the site gives away the content, the more pages will have time to process the search robots in the time allotted to them. If the process is delayed, then it will take more time for new pages to get into the index – the base of sites known to Google.
Google SERP ranking. Since 2018, resource speed has become one of the metrics that Google takes into account when ranking sites. If the visitor did not wait until the page loads, and closed the tab, this is a minus in karma and in the ranking of search results.
From May 2021, Google will add a new factor to the algorithm for ranking sites – Core Web Vitals. This factor includes largest contentful Paint rendering time, First Input Delay, and Cumulative Layout Shift of the page. That is, how convenient it is for the user to interact with your site will also affect the place of your resource in the search results.
How fast a page should load
There is no single standard for site loading speed. This parameter differs depending on the location, business industry, type of resource. For example, the sites of retail, automotive and technology companies are usually complex and “heavy”, so they require more time to load than landing pages or blogs. Also, when you visit an American site from Switzerland, the page may take longer to load for you than for visitors from the United States.
The general rule is that the faster the content appears on the screen, the better. Google recommends that the largest block of information be loaded for no more than 2.5 seconds. The mobile version of the site should load up to 3 seconds. That is, the normal speed of loading the site is 2-3 seconds. Loading speeds of more than 4 seconds are considered a bad indicator – for the user and for the ranking of the site in search. At the same time, the same Google research showed that 70% of resources are loaded in 5-7 seconds.
Users are not ready to wait for 10 seconds to see pictures and text on the page. A 2012 study showed that a person notices if a website slows down by 0.4 seconds. That is, from two sites, a potential buyer will choose the one that works faster, even if the difference in speed is one blink of the eyes.
How to Test Site Speed
To optimize something, you first need to identify the shortcomings. To check the speed of loading the site help special online tools, which we will talk about further.
Google PageSpeed Insights
A service from Google that checks the loading speed of the site in the desktop and mobile versions and recommends how to improve it. Along with the result, you will see the value of each parameter on the screen and a transcript of how it affects the speed.
If you often use this functionality, install the browser extension – Lighthouse. In the application, you can select the parameters by which you want to check the site, its desktop or mobile version, as well as download the report and share it with colleagues or customers.
On this resource, by default, the ping comes from Vancouver. To choose another location, you need to register on the site.
The report compiles recommendations from Yahoo and Google. GTmetrix visualizes the loading of the page – you see at what stage what content is available to the client and when he can interact with the page.
The History section will allow you to track how changes on the site affected the loading parameters of the pages.
Google Analytics Reports
Google reports will also help to analyze problems on the site, because they show the loading time of pages for real users. Here you can see the speed of the server response, redirects, data on the performance of the site. Analytics will show how the speed of the resource changes depending on the country and browser of the user.
Analyzing the speed of the site will help determine in which direction to make efforts, but do not perceive the test results as the only correct guide to action. The results of the checks differ from resource to resource. Find general options and consult with an SEO specialist and website developer.
Improve your hosting
Sometimes the low speed of the site indicates a lack of hosting resources. Your blog or online store could outgrow the tariff gigabytes. Upgrading the tariff plan and expanding the CPU and disk subsystem is a quick way to speed up the site.
According to our opinion hosting companies like Infomaniak and Cyon are one the best options in Switzerland.
If everything is in order with the hosting and the problem is on the side of the site, try the methods below.
There are two caching options:
• on the browser side;
• caching plugins.
To enable browser caching, in the .htaccess file, set the Expires parameter to Cache Lifetime. This can be several hours, days, weeks – depending on how often the information on the site is updated.
With caching enabled, the first time a user request arrives at the server. When the client needs this page again, it will load faster from the computer’s memory.
Another solution is caching plugins. On the first request, they store dynamic HTML files in memory and access them on repeated requests so that they do not re-download all scripts from the site.
Among the popular plugins we highlight:
• WP Rocket
• W3 Total Cache
• WP Super Cache
• Cache Enabler
• WP Ecommerce
Remove unnecessary plugins
Plugins not only help generate and edit code, but also overload the site. Here it is worth comparing the benefits of the plugin and the damage from the dropped page loading speed and possible errors on the site. If you have once installed a plugin and no longer use it, there is no point in storing it. Less “garbage” – faster site and easier to update.
Reduce the weight of your images
“Heavy” images slow down the loading of the page. Select high-quality images of small volume or compress them using online services:
Use JPEG format for photos, and PNG for icons, logos, illustrations of the designer.
Also there is a new format for images-WebP. According to Google, its size with the same quality is 26% smaller than that of PNG, and 25-34% smaller than JPEG. You may use it as well.
Aslo, you can postpone the loading of an image or video using the Lazy loading settings for the browser. The picture will not start loading until the page elements that are more important to the user appear on the screen. Such loading of images “on demand” loads the server less and improves the loading speed of sites with a large number of media files.
Visual content attracts attention, but do not abuse it. Do not overload the site with visual effects for their own sake.
Use page compression
• CSS Drive,
• CSS Compressor.
Make it a rule to place CSS files at the beginning and .js files at the end of the page. Due to this, the browser will first load the contents of the page, and only then process the scripts.
Set up preloading
The essence of the technique is to set a higher priority of download to those files that need to be displayed at the top of the page. The priority file — text, image or video — will be visible to the visitor before the rest, and other objects in the queue will not slow down its loading.
Reduce the number of queries and redirects
Pictures, files and functions on the site create a load and force the server to process the request for each of them. The simpler and more minimalistic the site, the fewer requests the browser sends when loading the page.
It is important not to overdo it: the site should remain attractive and user-friendly. Excessive asceticism can only harm.
Use a CDN
The principle of the CDN, or Content Delivery Network, is that the user receives content not from the only server on the planet, but from the one that is geographically closer to him. These speeds up the loading of the site, but makes sense for a company with customers around the world. For regional blogs and online stores, such costs are unnecessary.
What to remember
We figured out that the speed of loading the site affects the position of the site in the issuance and the customer’s loyalty to the brand, sales and income of the company. You can check the download speed using the online services like Google PageSpeed, Pingdom, GTmetrix, PR-CY.
Below is a checklist of tools that will help speed up the loading of the site:
• choose the right hosting;
• Use caching.
• remove unnecessary plugins;
• compress pictures and pages;
• configure preloading;
• reduce the number of requests and redirects;
• use a distributed network of servers — CDN.
Choose the acceleration methods that are appropriate for your site, and analyze the recommendations that testing services like PageSpeed give.