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How Does Page Speed Affect SEO? + Improve Your Site Speed

You already have a well-designed business website or online store. Your content is ready, and your website is live. But wait, something’s wrong — your new website takes a long time to load. 

Speed is a crucial performance factor for your business. If your website loads too slowly, potential visitors might abandon it in the first few seconds, which will affect your conversion rate.

Unfortunately, many web pages don’t load as they should, and this can negatively impact your search rankings and revenue. 

In this guide, we’ll answer the following questions: What could negatively affect site speed? How does page speed affect SEO? And how important is page speed for SEO, anyway?

What Webpage Load Time Is

Your webpage speed is the amount of time in seconds or milliseconds it takes to fully load a single webpage. This is also known as the Time to First Byte or the server response time.

You might have wondered what page speed is acceptable for users before they close a tab and move on. 

Google indicates that more than half of mobile visitors will leave your mobile site if it takes longer than three seconds to load, so you should aim for a shorter loading time. 

Different pages can have different loading speeds depending on their page elements, such as images and code. 

What could negatively affect site speed? Here are a few examples:

  • Your server’s performance. 
  • The user’s internet provider. 
  • The browser used.
  • The type of connection used.

How To Monitor Your Website’s Speed

ALT: Screenshot of Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

You can check your website speed using a free speed test on Google’s PageSpeed Insights, which can also let you know what could be negatively affecting your site speed.

To check your website’s performance, Google’s Speed Score uses data from the Chrome User Experience Report and metrics such as DOMContentLoaded (DCL) and First Contentful Paint (FCP).

How Important Page Speed Is for SEO 

So, how does page speed affect SEO?

According to Google, page loading speed became a direct ranking factor for mobile searches in July 2018. It will become a ranking factor for all pages when Google rolls out its Core Web Vitals update in June 2021. 

Google, along with other search engines, is keen on ranking pages that provide a great user experience.

Page speed matters and has a significant impact on user experience. Fast loading pages make it easier for visitors to navigate your website.

SEO Trends in 2021: The Future of SEO, What Matters Most and Why >>

Optimizing your website for mobile devices for mobile searches is crucial. Don’t overlook this since search engines have moved to mobile-first indexing with mobile page speed as one of the search ranking factors.

Besides, in 2019, Google Chrome announced that it would flag slow websites to encourage faster user experiences.

Here are some other reasons why increasing your page load time is essential:

  • Reduces bounce rate.
  • Increases page views.
  • Increases dwell time.
  • Improves conversion rate.
  • Helps your ranking in organic search.

How To Speed Up Your Website

  1. Activate browser caching.
  2. Minify resources.
  3. Enable image compression.
  4. Implement a content delivery network (CDN).
  5. Optimize media files.
  6. Minimize HTTP requests. 
  7. Use the right web host.

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Many factors could negatively affect site speed, including pages with poorly written code or too many page elements.

You can speed up webpage loading time if you:

1. Activate Browser Caching

Fetching the resources to load your website could negatively affect site speed as it takes time to load several page elements for new visitors. Browser caching lets browsers temporarily store information, including JavaScript files, stylesheets, and images.

Browser caching can speed up webpage loading time, as it loads pages faster on subsequent visits.

Free plugins, such as W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache, help reduce the number of file requests to the server, resulting in faster page load times.

2. Minify Resources

Using too many CSS files causes numerous HTTP requests, which could negatively affect site speed. It’s vital to minify your CSS files, which removes unnecessary characters, spacing, and comments in your content.

For your WordPress website, we recommend using WP Rocket to speed up webpage loading time. 

3. Enable Image Compression

Large image file sizes can also negatively affect site speed. Enable Gzip compression to help reduce the time it takes to download your CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files. 

Gzip compresses and later decompresses files when they get to your browser. Most modern browsers automatically process Gzip for all HTTP requests.

Top WooCommerce Image Size Hacks To Keep Your Website Fast

4. Implement a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

CDNs are a network of servers used to store a static version of your webpages in different locations, meaning a visitor can easily download them from the nearest server. 

What is a Content Delivery Network (CDN)? CDN Benefits & Features >>

CDNs identify where the user is and deliver content from the server closest to them. This is an essential way to speed up webpage loading time.

5. Optimize Media Files

Images and videos that are larger than necessary could negatively affect site speed, especially for mobile users. Ensure your image sizes are optimized by using the right image format and pixel dimensions. 

How to Convert to WebP Images on WordPress >>

For best results, use PNG or JPEG file formats. To optimize your videos, compress and reduce length. You can also upload them to YouTube and use the embed code on your page.

6. Minimize HTTP Requests 

Every file that a webpage requires to function, including HTML, fonts, CSS, images, and JavaScript, will need a separate HTTP request. 

Too many requests could result in slow page speed. Another issue is that plugins might add further JavaScript and CSS files. 

Minimize these requests to speed up webpage loading time. Some of the most effective ways include merging CSS into one file, reducing plugins that load JavaScript or CSS, and using sprites for images.

7. Use the Right Web Host

Your WordPress website’s host can determine how fast or slow your pages load. 

If your website is sharing a server with several other people, it’s more likely it will load slowly. This can frustrate your visitors, and they might abandon your website

To combat this issue, upgrade to a host optimized for speed, such as Hostdedi.

Final Thoughts: How Does Page Speed Affect SEO? + Improve Your Site Speed

How important is page speed for SEO? It’s an essential ranking factor in Google’s algorithm.

Every webmaster needs to think about specific user experiences as they build and maintain their website. If your website is slow, visitors are more likely to click the back button, which will affect your rankings and ultimately decrease conversions. 

Since many visitors will access your website through tablets or smartphones, mobile speed optimization should be a top priority. 

The single greatest factor to having a fast website is your host. The right host can improve website speed and boost performance.

If you’ve just created a website or you’re looking for better hosting, Hostdedi has a package to suit your business. Visit us today.

Or, get started with a free two-week trial of fully hosted WordPress or WooCommerce.

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The Ultimate Magento 2 Performance Checklist

At Hostdedi, we spend a considerable amount of time optimizing our infrastructure to make your Magento 2 store faster. After years of research and development, we’ve pulled together the ultimate Magento 2 performance checklist:

  1. Remove unused modules: Magento 2 comes with many pre installed modules that aren’t always needed. Yireo created a great module to disable the optional modules you don’t need through composer. The idea behind the module is quite simple: you replace any unused module with nothing to avoid loading unused modules and classes. This module and a complete how-to can be found here:
  1. Enable CSS/JS minification and merging: Minifying and merging CSS files can greatly improve load times and the general performance of your store by cutting the number of requests your site makes when loading a page. You can minify and merge CSS and JS files from the admin panel by navigating to the Developer tab under Stores > Configuration > Advanced (keep in mind this tab will only show if you are using developer mode). Magento recommends using a 3rd party plugin like Baler or MagePack for JS bundling given that Magento’s bundling mechanisms are not optimal and should only be used as fallback alternatives.
  1. Enable production mode: While this one might seem simple, the number of sites we see using a different mode in Magento is staggering. No one should be running Magento 2 in production in a different mode, but we still see too many stores running on either default or developer mode. The best way to switch modes is via CLI: 

php bin/magento:deploy:mode:show

to see which mode is your store using and 

php bin/magento deploy:mode:set production

to set production mode

  1. Use Redis for session/default and full page cache: Redis is one of the most used key/value database engines and Magento 2 comes with integrated support to use it as a both session storage and default/full page. To configure your store to use Redis, run the following commands from your root folder:

bin/magento setup:config:set --cache-backend=redis --cache-backend-redis-<parameter_name>=<parameter_value>...

bin/magento setup:config:set --session-save=redis --session-save-redis-<parameter_name>=<parameter_value>...

You can find a complete list of Redis configuration parameters and values for sessions here and for the full page cache here

  1. Use Elasticsearch for Magento’s catalog search: Since Magento 2.4, MySql was deprecated (and removed) and Elasticsearch was introduced as the catalog search engine, greatly improving the speed and results of the searches. To enable Elasticsearch, navigate to your admin panel and under Stores > Settings > Configuration > Catalog > Catalog > Catalog Search you will find a tab called Search Engine. Configure your store to use your Elasticsearch endpoint, click Test connection and if everything worked, you’re all set. You can find the complete list of parameters to configure Elasticsearch here.
  1. Use Varnish to speed up your response time/TTFB: You either love or hate Varnish but at the end of the day, it greatly improves the TTFB, and if configured correctly, it can do wonders for the general usability and user experience of your site. Magento 2 features an out of the box integration, making Varnish configuration really simple. To configure Varnish, navigate to Stores > Settings > Configuration > Advanced > System > Full Page Cache, select Varnish from the Caching Application list and configure the rest of the options. A full list of all the parameters you can use to configure Varnish can be found here

You can also configure Varnish from the CLI by running:

php bin/magento config:set --scope=default --scope-code=0 system/full_page_cache/caching_application 2

  1. Use a CDN: A content delivery network is normally used to store media and static assets at edge servers near your customers for faster delivery. This means your assets are physically closer to your customer, resulting in faster response times. Configuring a CDN for Magento is not as straightforward as it should be but it can be achieved by using the admin and navigating to Stores > Settings > Configuration. Under General, click on Web and expand the Base URL sections. Once there, update the Base URL for Static View Files and Base URL for User Media Files with the URL of your CDN endpoint where static view and javascript files are stored. Do the same for Base URLs (Secure) and once done, click Save config. You might need to flush/clean your cache for this change to take effect. If everything worked as expected, you should be seeing your CDN url being used to serve most of your site’s static files.
  1. Enabling the Asynchronous email notifications, Asynchronous order data processing: during times of high concurrency, you might want to move processes that handle checkout, order processing email notifications and stock updates to the background. To enable async email notifications, go to Stores > Settings > Configuration > Sales > Sales Emails > General Settings > Asynchronous Sending

You can activate Asynchronous order data processing from Stores > Settings > Configuration > Advanced > Developer > Grid Settings > Asynchronous indexing

When enabled, orders will be placed in temporary storage and moved in batch to the Order grid without any collisions.

While there are no real magic tricks, we tried this guide in our cloudhosts and ended up with an A and a page load under 2 seconds on GTMetrix 🥳

If you’d like assistance enacting these changes, or are interested in our Managed Magento offering, please reach out to our award-winning support team 24/7/365 at [email protected].

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