In a world where 5.6 billion Google searches are performed each day, providing visitors with fast website page speed is a necessity for all businesses online.
SEOs and business owners alike constantly look to appease the all-important Google Search Algorithm though continual page speed optimisation. Which when properly done results in great results for both engagement and search positions.
Recent studies have seen that websites with greater site performance will perform better – in particular within Google searches.
Here is information about one of the most talked about methods of maintaining a website load speed.
All about Website Page Speed
It is human nature to want to be the best. Websites do not differ. So when you hear website managers and SEOs talk about their website loading within a few seconds, have a think about what that means.
In Google’s Site Speed Playbook, a website “load” cannot be defined as a single moment in time. Rather, it is “an experience that no single metric can fully capture.”
What does this mean though?
We are told to focus on a few moments in a website load, in which a user may perceive a website as “fast” or “slow”. Each moment has a varying potential severity;
- Is it happening? I.e. has the hosting server responded to the user attempting to enter the site?
- Is it useful? I.e. how quickly can a website load content that users are able to engage with?
- Is it usable? I.e. Can a user interact with the website – can they scroll, click or hover – enough, or does it taking too long to fully load?
- Does it actually work? I.e. when a user interacts, is the website laggy or smooth to use?
You can see that there are 4 possibly large stumbling blocks in a user’s experience here.
The playbook mentions there being no single metric, but it’s arguable this is because the only “metric” is within the mind of your website’s end user.
That’s why Page Speed is seen as the best way to analyse a user’s first impression.
How is load speed measured?
Page Speed takes into account the time it takes to load all of a website’s files – all the way from a user entering a page, to the point it is fully loaded.
It is important to remember that every user has a different experience. The performance of an old phone on coffee shop Wi-Fi vs. a PC wired to fibre-optic broadband will naturally render very different results.
How can Website Page Speed be improved?
You are presented with a detailed report when you receive a page speed test from any of the tools above. They will mention particular areas that can be improved on to attain a higher page speed.
With an increasingly mobile world, you will also find that scores differ between devices. The most common way this is shown is by splitting scores into Mobile and Desktop screens.
After the implementation of the Mobile-First approach back in March 2018, Google’s algorithms have shifted to favour websites that work exactly the same, no matter the screen size. To that end, performance levels should be no different. This is why you should take the utmost care in appeasing the reports for both Mobile and Desktop load speeds.
Some of the most common pitfalls within Page Speed reports include:
- Images being far too large, both in their file size but also dimensions. There are many free tools, some easier and less time consuming than others. The best ‘simple’ one is Hummingbird for WordPress. It’s certainly worth a look.
- Images being in old-generation formats, such as JPEG or PNG. The suggested image formats nowadays include JPEG 2000, JPEG XR and WebP, as they provide better compression.
- Inefficient caching policies. A long-term caching policy will allow a server to store painted copies of a website for longer. This helps remove the need for a server to respond to every load request it gets.
What are some characteristics of a Good Page Speed?
As you can imagine, having a good Page Speed can have some great impacts on usability and SEO, too.
As above, Google looks at websites with high page speeds on both Mobile and Desktop with a kind eye. The aim for Google, of course, is to provide its users with the best browsing experience possible, however…
It is important to remember that a perfect page speed can have its drawbacks, both from both a usability and website design perspective.
I recently spoke to one of our in-house website designers about the impacts an increased need for high page speeds has had on her work and the reply was:
“As a designer it is easy to get carried away with a project. We can add tons of beautiful imagery to really sell a service or establishment, but there needs to be a balance between aesthetics and function. Designers must get the mix between making a website enticing, and not overusing the resources just right.”
Does a Website’s load speed HAVE to be perfect?
So the question is whether it’s possible to have a happy medium – a digital landscape where we have great designs, mixed with great performance?
“Tactical Page Speeds” where levels are not perfect, but high nonetheless, seem appealing. There are so many factors within Google’s algorithm, so it’s important to put time into appeasing them.
You should also keep in mind that a website that does not look good might struggle to convert traffic into sales.
It’s difficult to create the perfect website, but there are some examples of this. For any website, the starting priority should be to find a good mix of load speed, good looks and great content.
Hopefully the results will follow, but if you have any questions, requirements or you need some help with speeding your site up, speak to your web developer for help.