Page speed is the time it takes to display all the content on a specific page of a website. In other words, it measures how long a visitor has to wait for a page to load.
Page speed can have a big impact on a site’s traffic and ranking in search engine results. Learn why page speed matters, how to measure it, and how to optimize your site and boost page speed.
Why Page Speed Matters
How often have you clicked a link that caught your attention, only to close it because the page took forever to load? Your site could have the best content around, but if it takes too long to load, many people will leave before they have a chance to see it.
One survey shows nearly half of web users will give up on a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. That’s barely enough time to start counting!
The same survey found that poor performance will keep 79% of online shoppers from becoming repeat customers, and 44% of them will air their grievances about the site with a friend.
Mobile users are slightly more forgiving, tolerating page speeds of six to 10 seconds on average. But as mobile browsing becomes more prevalent, people will increasingly expect an experience on par with desktop speeds.
That’s not the only reason page speed matters. Page speed has been a ranking factor in Google search engine results since 2010. Websites that load quickly get a boost in the rankings, while very slow sites can face penalties that drag them down.
How to Measure Page Speed
Google’s benchmark for page speed is five seconds. How does your site measure up?
You can use Google PageSpeed Insights to measure the speed of a page on your site. Available as a web tool or Google Chrome extension, PageSpeed Insights checks to see whether the page has applied best practices for performance and provides a score between 1 and 100. It also suggests fixes to improve your speed and boost your score.
How to Increase Page Speed
There could be a number of reasons why your page speed is not up to par. Common problems include inefficient code, oversized images, unnecessary redirects. Start with the following steps:
Use Browser Caching
When someone visits a page, their web browser has to download all the images, stylesheets, scripts, and other resources needed to display it. Reduce the time this takes by leveraging browser caching.
Caching stores the latest version of the page on the user’s computer so the browser doesn’t have to generate it each time they visit the page. If a resource can be cached, cache it! Google recommends a minimum cache time of one week, and preferably up to one year, for assets that change infrequently.
Minifying means reducing the size of a website’s code without changing its functionality. It includes steps like removing code comments, trimming unused code, and using shortened variable and function names. Reduce the size of your resources to increase page speed.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Pages load faster when the server delivering the content is located close to the user. If you seek national or international traffic, invest in a content delivery network (CDN) to serve your files from an optimal location.
Images are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to site slowdown. The more images the browser must download, and the bigger those image files are, the more competition for the user’s bandwidth.
Trimming down the size of your images is a simple but significant step in increasing page speed. Instead of forcing large images to display in a smaller resolution using HTML, save those images at the smaller resolution. Only use the PNG format for large, important images that must look sharp, and save less important images as JPGs and small images as GIFs.
Enable GZIP Compression
All modern browsers support GZIP compression, which reduces the time it takes to download resources and render a site. GZIP compression reduces file sizes by up to 70% without degrading image and video quality. Ask your web host to enable GZIP compression.
If you aren’t sure whether your site uses GZIP compression already, use this tool to find out.