Page load time is actually a big ranking factor for Google because it has to do with the usability of your website. Users want something that will load quickly, so Google wants to offer those results to readers. It seems easy enough, but many websites focus so much on great content and relationships, and while this is great, they don’t even realize their pages aren’t loading properly.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to improve the load time for your pages and a few ways to test your pages to make sure nothing changes. The sooner you can make this a priority, the better for your overall SEO.
Tips and Tricks to Improving Your Load Time for Better SEO
I recommend checking first to see if you can identify issues that might be causing your pages to load slowly. There are several different tools that can help determine your load speed in general and then identify where the problem might lie:
- Google PageSpeed Insights. This tool will show you a report for desktop and mobile.
- GTmetrix. This tool will produce a list of different aspects and rank the critical issues in order of importance so that you know where to begin.
- Google Analytics. In the Bahavior section you can see a site speed report. The Page Speed Suggestions link shows how individual pages can be improved.
- Webpage Test. This tool is similar to the others, but will allow you to specify different locations and/or browsers to test.
For a longer list of tools, visit this article from SERPs.com. If you can’t find the problem right away, trouble-shoot with some of the following tips to hopefully speed up load time. Also keep these things in mind as your website continues to grow and you start to publish more content and images:
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
Many don’t even realize it, but if you’re not using a CDN then that means your website might be hosted in one continent and the server is located in another. For example, you might be in America, but your server is in Australia. As you might imagine, this will increase page load times. Below is a really cool graphic from WPBeginner that shows how it all works:
In short, using a CDN will ensure that data is delivered quicker because the web server is closer in proximity to where your website is hosted. All you have to do is setup a CDN, such as MaxCDN or another service, and then forget about it. The CDN will do all the work.
Optimize your images.
It’s true that images can add a lot to a piece of content and are now almost necessary to keep up with the competition and earn readers, but unfortunately images are some of the biggest causes of a slow load time for a website. You have to know how to include images on your website correctly if you want to succeed. There are a few things to always keep in mind:
- Use the right type of image: .gif, .jpg, or .png.
- Always adjust your image displays so that they are the appropriate size. Keep in mind, though, that even a small size doesn’t mean you’re done. If you are displaying a 650X1000 pixel image, it’s going to slow down your website. You want to say around 325X550 pixels.
- Consider compressing images to a more manageable size using a plugin:
You can use a tool like Screaming Frog to help see the sizes of your images if you are unsure. Simply download the software and type in your website’s URL. You can also click on “Images” in WordPress to see the sizes.
Check your plugins.
This is one that many Webmasters often miss or leave to check until last. However, your plugins can actually be a huge reason your pages are loading slowly. Social-sharing plugins are particularly large and can slow things down (and the easy fix here is to embed social buttons into the theme’s source code). Use the tool P3 tool to see if your other plugins are affecting load time, and once you’ve run the test you can decide if you want to delete the plugins of find another option. Below is a screenshot of the report you might see using P3:
Turn off your pingbacks and trackbacks.
This might not be the biggest factor in a slow load time, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s so easy to fix. Pingbacks and trackbacks are used by WordPress to let other blogs know that you linked to their blog and it was shared. Although there are benefits, which you can learn more about here, this may not be worth it for you. Disable this feature under the Discussion tab.
Compress your website using a Gzip.
Compressing files always takes up less space, so you’ll want to compress your website to help reduce the size of the HTTP response, which subsequently will reduce the response time. Founder of Louder Online Aaron Agius said it well when he said, “Every , , and tag has to have a matching closing tag, and for larger webpages with many lines of code, this creates a lot of excess coding fat. Compressing your site cuts this fat.”
You can enable gzipping by simply downloading here and installing it to your website. It will then automatically compress your files as ZIP files. In the end, there doesn’t appear to be a downside to installing this plugin.
I highly recommend visiting this article if your speed isn’t improving and you need even more ideas. Do you have any more tips for improving the load time of your webpages? Let us know your story and what has worked for you in the comment section below.