This is something that we are talking about more and more. Website speed is part of Google’s algorithm and can have a direct effect on your SEO Ranking. Website speed is very often over looked most probably due to the fact that to understand the subject you will require a little bit of technical understanding and insight.
In very basic terms site speed relates to the time it takes for your web page to load. This is a very entry level understanding. When we start to take a more detailed view on the subject you will see that loading speed is so much more than this.
Page load will essentially come under user experience or UX for short. How quickly the page loads will directly affect the users experience. We also know that UX is a direct ranking factor in Google so it’s important for us to get this right.
In this post we are going to look at ways in which you can improve site speed and page load speed. We will also look at how users interact with your site once it’s loaded, as this is equally as important and some would argue more important.
A good example of this is if we look at on page content. Again this is another defining element that will help to determine your organic ranking in Google.
Let’s just say that you’ve got a page that is rapidly quick, it excels in all the speed tests and is technically super quick. However, if the content on the page is terrible, or more to the point not what the user had intended, then all that amazing work you had done to enhance the speed will have been wasted.
Ok so let’s create a situation where we can highlight this. For the purpose of the post we will just make up a scenario that would be relevant to us. As major boxing fans in the GC HQ we may have a query like ‘how many professional fights did Muhammad Ali win?’. If we land at a page that is super quick but then gives me a 30 min video and 10-page bio on Muhammad Ali has it answered my query? The answer is quite obviously no. So you can see here, we have a page that has been supremely optimised, is very quick but the UX is massively compromised due to it not answering our query.
For anyone that may be interested Ali actually won 56 and lost 5 professional fights.
So for the purpose of this scenario, let’s assume that this search term ‘how many professional fights did Muhammad Ali win?’ is searched daily. We must remember that Google is smart and it won’t be long before it recognises that this page and content isn’t relevant. On page bounce will increase, the amount of time spent on the page will reduce and it won’t be long before the reputation of that page has been lost.
Advancements in technology and ways in which users interact and engage with the internet have changed. We now have more ways than ever for a user to find and interact with content. This spans from mobile devices, to social media, to tablets, notebooks and desktops. However, trends would suggest that the more choice we have when looking for content, results in the user spending less time reading it.
Users these days are always in a hurry, they don’t have time to trawl through paragraph after paragraph of content. Don’t forget they also have many more social distractions, email alerts, text notifications, Facebook messaging, LinkedIn etc.
When it comes to delivering content, we need to ensure that your page delivers the content that users are so desperately searching for. In the Muhammad Ali example above you can see that Boxrec does this effectively.
So how do we deliver great content in a timely manner
Image size can have a significant impact on page loading speed. Be aware of the actual image size required. So, if a product image on your page is sized 400 x 400 pixels then make sure your image is the exact size. Far too often we will see images occupy a space like this which actually are 800 x 800 pixels.
Also image formats should also be considered. Jpegs are generally used for a full colour photographic image. However, if you are using graphics and vectors on site then consider using .png format. Whilst these changes may seem small, they will actually provide noticeable results.
Reduce any unwanted code
Its good practice to ensure you have removed any un-wanted code. You almost have to picture your website a bit like a F1 racing car. They will spend hours making minute refinements which will make a small percentage gain.
By slimming the website down and reducing any unnecessary code we are simply making another small refinement which will make another speed percentage gain.
Can’t find what you’re looking for?
It’s important to review your content and ensure that you are presenting relevant and unique content that the user is looking for.
It’s all very well having a super-fast page but if you don’t engage the end user then all efforts have been wasted. Whilst it’s important for our content to be keyword focused we shouldn’t lose sight of the purpose of the content. Understanding your user and what it is they are looking for will allow you to create content which will engage the user.
Thinking about how you present your content will help to improve engagement. There will be subjects that you need to cover that you can’t make instantaneous. If users are interested in what you are writing about then they will take the time to read your content. It helps though if you can find ways to make it more digestible, especially if it is a bit on the long side.
Just think about ways which will make it easier for the user to take the information on board. Bullet points, lists, tables and infographics can all help to communicate in a more creative and easy to read style.
As you can see from this post page speed and SEO work hand in hand. It’s not all about how fast the page loads, we have to keep the user central to everything we do and ensure we communicate the right content effectively.
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