At the end of 2009, Google officially announced that webmasters are now asked to design web pages with optimized loading time, as this criterion has gradually become more and more important.
According to Google, page loading speed would therefore be an important criterion for your SEO. What's more, the overall performance of a site is also beneficial for your website and its visitors (including search engine robots).
Indeed, Internet users are increasingly impatient and almost half of them will not wait more than two seconds for a page to load.
Is it really so important?
- For Google, losing 500ms also means losing 20% of its traffic.
- Reducing the weight of a page by 25% means gaining 25% more users in the medium term.
- For Amazon, increasing latency by 100ms means 1% fewer sales.
- For Yahoo, losing 400ms means an additional 5-9% dropout rate.
- Finally, it is generally estimated that beyond 4 seconds of waiting, the bounce rate becomes really important.
The problems of slowness therefore lead to this series of definite consequences:
- Worse indexing from search engines like Google.
- A disappointing user experience for your Internet users.
- Less depth of visits.
- Fewer online revenues because of fewer conversions.
Which problems for which solutions?
The choice of the host is a consideration worth prioritizing because it may have possible benefits for the loading time of your pages. We can consider the response time of a server, but also the compatibility between a hosting offer and the traffic generated by a website.
Some testing tools.
The first step is to identify the causes and, therefore, to equip oneself with the best benchmark tools, because we "really improve what we measure." We will then see what the potential solutions are.
The website Pingdom Tools will for example simulate the display of the page in a browser and measure the loading time of each of the elements that make it up.
Google Analytics also offers a functionality that gives you statistics on the average loading times of your pages, their development over a given period of time, as well as the average response time of the server. The latter is an important factor because the response time must be less than 200ms.
To check this data, you must go on your Google Analytics account, click on the "Behavior" link on the left sidebar menu => Site Speed => Overview.
You can then filter the desired date range on the top right corner of your window.
Google PageSpeed Insight.
You can also use Google's tools called PageSpeed Insight, which provide very interesting insights in this area, as well as tips on how to improve the situation.
With these different tools, you should be able to inspect the performance of your site as closely as possible.
Other important improvements.
Compress to reduce the amount of downloaded Kbs.
The first thing you want to do when optimizing the loading time of the web pages of your site is to limit the bandwidth and therefore the number of kilobytes transferred. At this level, compression is essential.
The operation is the same as with the files on your computer (.zip, .WinZip, ...). It is possible to enable compression on most servers by using a "Deflate" or "Gzip" module. It is up to you to modify or activate these modules depending on the version of your server.
This is usually done through the .htaccess file by adding specific command line prompts depending on the file extensions for which you want to enable compression. Compression works best for text elements (HTML, XML, JSON, CSS and script files). There is no need to compress images, PDF files or videos. It is also important to know that you do not need to compress files smaller than 2KB.
Enable browser cache
The Apache servers already support caching: each time an item is called, a
Get Conditional request is sent. When the browser loads a page and sees that the item is already in the cache, it sends a request to the server asking whether the file has been modified or not. If not, the server returns a request indicating that the cached version is still "current".
On the surface, the system appears to be well developed, but in reality, this results in a large number of unnecessary queries. Let's take the case of an Internet user who regularly visits your site. During each of his visits, the browser will query the server to check whether an item has been modified since it was last visited. A solution then consists in indicating the elements which "remain". For example, style sheets, script files and images. Again, you just need to add a few lines in the .htaccess file.
But beware! This method requires you to rename elements, e.g. when you make changes to image files, so that the browser downloads the latest version.
Speed is an important factor if you want to fully benefit from your SEO improvements. In the past years, we at SEO Republic noticed that Google cares more and more about how fast your website is rendering its content.
Every SEO mission should start with an in-depth optimisation of your website. It is also a good idea to test your new external provider and see if your ways of working together match!
As you probably noticed, it can quickly get very technical. If you need any help with your own website, check below!