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What You Need to Know About Website Page Speed Optimization

The concept of website page speed is simple; by optimizing the amount of time it takes for your website page to load you are improving your SEO and increasing your revenue. Taking the correct actions to accelerate your page speed can be confusing and many tips and tricks out there recommend an assortment of plugins (such as these for WordPress) or image optimization modules, which are definitely helpful, but page speed is also worth understanding at its core.

While page speed can be summarized by the amount of time it takes for your webpage to load, there are various metrics involved to break down and measure different parts of the process so you can identify and troubleshoot. Those metrics come in handy when comparing the speed of your page to the recommended speed. Here’s what you need to know about page speed optimization:

Impact of Page Speed

The time it takes for your webpage to load is the first experience users have on your website, so you want to make a good impression and enhance user experience. Any delay, no matter how small, is noticeable. The commonly recommended time is under 2 seconds, but the faster the better. Mobile may take a second longer, but your content should still be optimized for mobile. Large e-commerce sites report a significant difference in sales if their site takes even a few milliseconds longer than usual.

Your analytics are also impacted. If your site is up to speed, it will record more visitors and provide you with an accurate measurement of the traffic on your site and how many of the users are converting into paying customers.

Optimizing your page speed will affect your SEO rankings. Google ranks faster-loading website higher and even you are receiving organic traffic, if there is a lag or delay in your page speed, users will bounce back and this will negatively impact your SEO. Here’s the latest from Google on Web Vitals.

How a Webpage is Loaded

In order to understand how to optimize the speed of your webpage, it helps to understand how a webpage is loaded. There are many components and details, but the process can be broken down into four steps.

The first step is when a request is made after a link is clicked, a page is refreshed, or a URL is typed into a browser. This step is also referred to as the navigation step. At this point, the document, or webpage file, is requested by HTTP.

The second step is the webserver providing the file to the web browser – or receiving what it had just requested by clicking on the link. Webpages that have images, JavaScript, and CSS are referenced by the webpage, so the web browser also knows to load them. The web browser much load each of those resources from the server.

The third step is building the webpage by combining the document originally requested by HTTP and the additional resources such as JavaScript, images, and CSS. This is a very simplified version of this step, which can be broken down much further, but just keep in mind that this stage, all content requested is being built.

The fourth and final step is when the content is displayed on the screen. The browser works to display the layout of the webpage accurately according to the screen size and the content is pixelated or painted.

Best Practices to Optimize Page Speed

So, how can you speed up your webpage? Thankfully, there are a few options you can turn to:

  • Compress Images – Large images will take a lot longer to load. If your webpage is filled with larger images, experiment compressing the images to speed up your webpage. The ideal format for photographs is .JPG and GIFS or PNG are best for areas of solid color.
  • Third-Party Scripts – plugins, apps, and widgets are guilty of causing a delay in your webpage.
  • Merge JavaScript – As mentioned above, it’s better to merge your JavaScript and CSS files into one file, so you don’t have a separate HTTP request for each file, which will slow things down.
  • Enable Compression – GZIP compression will speed up your download time by compressing files that are decompressed when they get to the browser.
  • Browser Caching – If you enable browser caching, some of the content of your webpage is stored in the user’s browser, making it load faster the next time they access your page.

Every second, or even millisecond, it takes for your webpage to load impacts your bottom line. Spend some time analyzing the page speed metrics and make sure they are up to par. If not, there are plenty of ways in which you can start optimizing the process. To make things easier, here is a list of website monitoring tools to help measure page speed.

For more tips on search engine optimization – visit our YouTube Channel! We have a whole series on SEO Basics for Small Business!