Webhance Digital - website design, shopify development, website maintenance

Website Speed – how important is it for SEO?

The internet is a fickle place. Your competitors are only a click away, which makes giving your customers a great experience on your website essential. It’s more than just beautiful design and useability though. Your site needs to be efficient as well as looking great!

It’s a fact. We’re becoming more and more time poor. That means when we’re searching for information or shopping online we need our transactions to be fast. We just don’t have the time or the patience to wait around for a website to load – regardless of how beautiful it may be. Our websites need to enable customers to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily and then make the transaction they’re there to perform with minimum fuss.

Google agrees! The first major Google update for 2021 has just been released.  The ‘Core Web Vitals’ Google update adds three new metrics to the ‘Page Experience Signal’ with website speed officially becoming a ranking factor. That means your site needs to be fast to rank well in search results.

So, what do we look for when assessing site speed? According to SiteGround the ideal page loading time is around 1 to 2 secs. This reduces to a Time to First Byte (TTFB) of 200ms for traffic in the same continent.

Website Speed and SEO

How do we optimise for better speed?

The main element that slows your site down is numerous large images. Here are some strategies you can deploy to manage the loading time of your images:

  1. Optimise – reduce your image size by optimising them for the web or implementing an alternative image format such as WebP
  2. Add lazy loading for images ‘below the fold’
  3. Use caching for static assets

Other elements that can slow your site down reside in the code. If your site uses extensive CSS and JavaScript – and there are few sites that don’t – you may wish to minify your CSS and JavaScript code. This may be achieved via a plugin if your site is built on WordPress or compression tools such as Gzip.

Another suggestion is to reduce the use of 3rd party scripts. The more code web browsers need to read before loading your site, the slower the load time will be. 3rd party scripts are often implemented to perform tasks related to advertising, heatmaps and tracking. It’s best to keep these to a minimum, and if you cease these services be sure to remove the scripts from your site.

If your site is global, deploying a Content Delivery Network (CDN) will improve your site load time in other countries. A CDN basically allows for the quick transfer of assets needed for loading content including HTML pages, JavaScript files, stylesheets, images, and videos via a geographically distributed group of servers. This means your site will be faster for the customer regardless of where they are in the world.

Finally, your server environment on your website host is everything. Investing in a good hosting provider is critical for the ongoing performance of your site. At Webhance Digital we partner with SiteGround for our website hosting and we’ve never looked back. Our site speeds are excellent and we continue to take advantage of their regular upgrades and focus on improvement.

Looking for a faster solution for your website? Talk to us about auditing your site today.

Contact Julie today