Page speed optimization should be at the core of your SEO strategy right now. Your page speed is just as important as site speed is to SEO. Here, page speed should not be mistaken for website speed.
What is page speed optimization and how important is this factor to your overall website ranking? Your page speed is technically how long it takes the content of a specific page on your website to load completely or in more technical terms, “time to first byte”, which the time it takes for your client’s browser to get the first byte of data from your web server. Just like site speed which measures how fast a sample of page views on your website, page speed is critical to your search rankings.
In my view, page speed would be critical to Google owing to the fact that good user experience is one of its chief aim for its users. It’s now important to take measures to get your page speed right by focusing on the following areas.
1. Time to first byte (TTFB)
An area to focus on to get insight on how to improve your page speed is how long it takes your browser to receive the first byte of information from your web server. This is what is technically known as “time to first byte”.
A perfect tool to evaluate this is Google’s PageSpeed Insights, which measures reports from the FCP (First Content Paint) and DCL (DOM Content Loaded) by polling data from CrUX (Chrome User Experience Report).
2. Your web hosting
While most would go ahead and start tweaking their web design and looking at what plugins may cause a lag in page speed, the culprit is not always obvious.
Your web host would play the biggest role in how fast the pages of your website loads. You can run a lean one-page website on some hosting services and still come short on the page speed or website speed.
3. Redundant and inactive plugins
Inactive plugins on your website are often serious culprits in slow site speed.
Although, the reason plugins have the option to “activate” and “deactivate” them is to make them dormant while you decide whether they may serve any need in the future, rather than deleting them. However, the most efficient way to prevent plugins that are not being used from dragging down your website is to remove it.
To prevent plugins from unnecessarily slowing down pages of your website, you can consider taking the following measures:
- Only install plugins when they are absolutely necessary
- Clear your website cache and Minified CSS/JS after removing a plugin
- If a plugin hasn’t been active for three months, consider removing it from your website
- Only install plugins that are up to date and marked as compatible with your WordPress version
Aside from causing lags in your website’s page speed, inactive plugins may cause vulnerability to the security of your website leaving you exposed to attackers and hackers. This undoubtedly will negatively affect your website’s SEO and rankings, costing you traffic and revenue.
4. Clean your website codes
Another area you should look out for when dealing with page speed is the codes that make up your website. While this is a more technical exercise and is better handled by technical professionals, taking care of your website codes and ensuring nothing is off can help you gain some speed.
5. Content delivery network (CDN)
Using a content delivery network or content distribution network, commonly known as CDNs can significantly reduce the time it takes to fully load pages of your website. When users are browsing the internet, proximity to your server can affect how fast content is delivered to them.
What CDN does is host your website content in the cloud, and let the nearest server to your clients handle the delivery of the content when they access your website. Since geographic proximity is also a factor in the speed of content delivery, using a CDN takes care of this and eliminates the associated delays that come with loading a website’s content from a distant location.
CDNs also utilize caching to reduce your hosting bandwidth, making room for smooth content delivery and rendering. Plus, it also helps prevent downtimes with your website.
When you opt for a CDN, the following aspects of your website’s content are taken care of:
- Images and videos on your server
- HTML pages
Images are important components of every webpage. And roughly nine out of ten pages on a website would include at least an image. It also goes without saying that images consume the most bandwidth on a website.
To boost your website page speed and enjoy solid SEO dividends, you should optimize images on your website to consume as little bandwidth as possible. Heavy and oversized images are among the top reasons a website may experience slow page speed.
Images that are wider than the content area of your website would overlap on the screen, causing the user experience to suffer. Getting your image size right can make a huge difference in how your page loads.