This month, Google has announced that the page speed update is rolling out for all users. Is page speed really that important? How fast is fast enough?
Why it is good to have a fast website
A slow-loading website can have a significant impact on your business. The longer a web page needs to load, the more likely it is that visitors will go away before they can see your page.
Google found out that as page load time goes from one second to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases 123%. Similarly, as the number of elements—text, titles, images—on a page goes from 400 to 6,000, the probability of conversion drops 95%.
“When it comes to mobile pages, speed and size matter. Marketers must keep people engaged on mobile and focus on building mobile-first experiences.”
Google recommends several things to make sure that users of mobile devices can view your web pages without problems:
- A web page should load within 3 seconds.
- Your web server should send the first byte within 1.3 seconds after a request.
- Mobile pages shouldn’t be bigger than 500 KB.
Google found out that the majority of websites are much slower and bigger than that. If your website isn’t that fast, you’re not the only one. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t improve your pages.
How to make your web pages faster
The are several things that you can do to make your website faster. Some things are very easy, other things require the help of your web host.
First of all, you should choose a reliable web host with a fast internet connection and fast servers. You can do the following to make your web pages faster:
- Optimize your images: Optimizing your images is an easy way to make your web pages fast. Most image editing tools a “save optimized version for web” option. Use that option to create smaller images. Further information about image optimization can be found here.
- Reduce the number of plugins on your website: Check if you really need all plugins and widgets that are used on your web pages. Many just slow down your website without adding value to your site.
- Optimize the code of your web pages: For example, only use tracking scripts if you really need that data.
There are many other things that you can do. Check the speed of your website here. Google’s tool will show you the elements that you have to improve to make your web pages faster.
How fast is fast enough?
You should do everything that is possible to optimize the load time of your web pages. Even if this won’t directly influence your website rankings on Google, it will have a direct impact on the user experience.
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to do everything that is recommended by Google’s speed check tool. If your website gets an ‘average’ score, it is usually fast enough. By definition, most websites are average.
If you have a reasonably fast website with relevant content, a faster website with less relevant content will not get better rankings than your site. Google’s John Mueller confirmed that Google’s speed algorithm only affects the slowest websites.
There’s more than website speed
In addition to the speed of a website, there are many more things that you can improve on your website, such as:
- Optimize the content of your web pages to get more conversions.
- Work on the links that point to your website to get more visitors and better search engine rankings.
- Remove technical errors that prevent high rankings.