6 Tips to Improve Your SEO with Site Speed

by Isaac Oswalt on January 04, 2016

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There are two very important reasons to consider page speed when improving your SEO. First, Google certainly cares about it – increasingly, page speeds and similar response times are being factored into page rankings (unfortunately, Google takes into account competitor performance, too). Second, consumers are growing more impatient than ever, especially on mobile devices. If a page takes more than a couple seconds to load, chances are good that you're losing conversions.

 

Of course, not every speed problem is on your end, but the good news is that there's a lot you can do to improve your site speed. A secondary benefit? Other aspects of your SEO strategy will probably improve as well. Here are six tips for you to adopt in 2016.

1. Declutter

What do we mean by declutter? Try this easy little visual test – look around your website and cut back on any visuals that you don't need. Large HD pictures, rows of little widgets, anything that uses Flash, and generally lots of movement or color means that your page will take a while to load. And yes, this absolutely includes ads. There's a reason minimalistic sites have become popular, especially in the mobile world. Oh, and if you have a popover ad or an autoplay video that's waiting to load, you are almost begging consumers to leave your site.

2. Use Server Tests

The good news is that there are endless tests you can run on your pages to judge your speed effectively. These include Firebug, Moz Crawl, PageSpeed, and many more. However, don't forget the server side: If you have a web host, see if they can provide information or recommendations on your server response time. If you use your own servers, then run software to measure the response time yourself.

3. Optimize Your Content

Take any important web architecture component, and you can probably find a way to optimize it for speed. Excuse us for the rapid fire, but some options include:

  • Use the JPEG format for photos and PNG for more basic images.
  • Create CSS sprites for common images like buttons to convert them into single, stable page images.
  • Set your browser cache to expire after a certain time, especially if you frequently update web content.
  • Search your plugins for updates or alternatives that perform faster.

4. Simplify Code

If you want to drill down even deeper, inspect your coding work. Thanks to today's templates and style sheets most code is very efficient, but if you have any custom coding that you've been using for years, you may want an experienced developer to look at it. HTML updates, replacements, and more minimalistic designs can help give your page a speed boost. Consider major HTML5 updates and other tricks to get more from your code.

5. Be Careful With Themes

This ties into the simplify message: Be careful when choosing themes. Flashy, vibrant, active themes can help some brands sell, but those pages take time to load and are often distracting. Choose simpler themes (with relatively few widgets, as we mentioned) when possible.  

6. Keep Up On Best Practices

Let's give you an example: CDNs or content delivery networks are a popular way to spread out data across proxy servers and cut down on load times…at least for now. When it comes to servers, code and many of the other things we've discussed, best practices tend to shift over time.

It's a good idea to keep site performance as a key metric in your SEO work so that you can keep on top of the best methods of boosting your speed as they develop.

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Isaac Oswalt

Owner of 21 Handshake, a strategic marketing company, driven to grow relationship-driven businesses. Futurist in nature, Isaac displays a deep desire to preserve the human element in today's business. Trust being the ultimate currency, his clients appreciate that "new and stronger handshakes" is a success metric in their businesses.

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