speed_waterfall_diagram

Website speed, SEO & Google

Today dear SEO friends we are going to talk about website speed! Yes, the speed your web server can deliver content at actually matters for SEO!

We all know what happens if a web page loads slowly… We humans don’t like to wait so we hit the back button to gladly go to the next result on the search result page. Very bad for your bounce rate and surely for your SEO.

So is my website slow?

By viewing your “Google Webmaster Tools / Labs / Site Performance” it’s easy to see how your average page speed is. Slower or faster than the average site? If your site is faster then it’s all fine, else continue reading.

Google website speed diagram

Google usually rewards websites with good usability. A slow website is not very user friendly, by saying that, page speed does matter to SEO. Now let’s go over how to improve your site speed.

First we need to measure your site speed

There are many tools out there that can measure the time it takes to load a web page. One tool I especially like is the web based  www.webpagetest.org because…

  • It’s free!
  • It’s web based
  • You can choose test location
  • You can choose the browser (user agent)
  • Select ISP speed
  • Handles basic authentication
  • Saves previous tests in history so you can compare results

Let’s begin!

Go to www.webpagetest.org and enter the url you like to check.

webpagetest.org

Start the test and just sit back and hold on to your SEO hat! The test runs twice to measure the first page load time compared to the second page load time.

When the test is finished you will be presented with a score like:

abcdf score

This looks a bit bad, but let me explain…. The F-score for “First Byte Time” is because I use Cloudflare (I tell you about them another time) as CDN. The second “F” is because of a cache setting I need to adjust…

Anyway… You also get two waterfall diagrams showing you each request that is made to your website. The first diagram shows you the first page loading, the second one is the repeat view. The second page loading usually a lot faster because the browser caches a lot of scripts and images.

Now you can click the diagrams and analyze in detail what is slowing your site down.

Here’s your chance to go on a page optimization frenzy! Yes, things like large scripts, poorly compressed images, too many requests, you be surprised by what you can find here.

If you know a bit of coding you can probably fix most of your performance issues yourself. If not, ask around, at least now you know what’s slowing your site down.

Common performance issues

When it comes to poor performance a bunch of things can be causing slow page speed. Usually large files, like images, scripts, css-files can cripple your site. Compression not enabled on the web servers is also not good and quite common. Bad coding and too many html validation errors are also factors…

Last but not least, poor performance could be caused by too many sites on a shared host. Perhaps you should invest in a dedicated server or switch hosting company entirely? Another solution could be using a CDN (content delivery network). I use as I mentioned earlier Cloudflare, they reduce page loading time by about half. Cloudflare is a “Freemium” service so you can use it for free!

Good luck with your page optimization and try to aim for page loading speeds below 2 seconds!

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