In 2014, Google began to include site speed as a factor in ranking search results. The idea is that the faster the download speed of a site is, the better the user experience is, and the more relevant and authoritative the content will be. Focusing on site speed as an SEO strategy can also boost your conversion rate into sales.

Why is Page Speed Important in Rankings?

As an online business in Singapore, you should know that page speed is important in rankings, alongside other traditional factors. Site speed refers to the time it takes for the website’s content –including images, text, embedded videos, and so on—to load and appear onscreen.

Site speed in SEO is important because it boosts user experience. Ideally, the download speed of a website should be three seconds or less. Everything that the consumer should see should appear within that time period, without any delay or signs of buffering.

But these fast websites aren’t the norm. Many of the top retail sites, which field millions of visitors a month, can take over 7 seconds to load. For many customers, 7 seconds is too much of an inconvenience. This delay in site speed cost these top retail websites billions in potential sales because users give up.

Site speed is clearly important to conversion metrics and boosting sales. But how is it related to ranking?

When Google began incorporating site speed in its algorithm for ranking search engine results, they added this factor alongside other traditional factors. These other factors include content (how much focus the content has on keyword XY), links (whether the page has links to external or internal pages), relevance, authority, and so on.

Google classifies site speed as “fast” and as “slow”. Though the details aren’t publicly clear, site download speed of roughly 1.5 seconds and below is considered as “fast”. Sites which take more than 1.5 seconds to fully load are already considered “slow”. That’s a tall standard. In fact, only around 20% of websites are in the “fast” category.

Though site speed is only just one of the many factors considered by Google, it still affects the performance of a website in terms of page views. But it’s certain that the sites belonging to the top 20% “fast” category get a boost in traffic. And while the best SEO sites get merits, the websites in the bottom 20% “slow” category of speed, get some consequences. In terms of search engine optimisation, websites with a slow download speed get bumped down in the SERP.

How to Improve Your Site Speed

How can you have the best site speed now? With the tough competitive nature of online commerce and economics, flourishing in the Singapore and even world Search Engine Results Page should be a priority.

Here are several techniques to speed up the download time of a website and increase SEO and SERP rankings.

1. Identify opportunities for improvement.

As with any business endeavour, planning well and managing feedback are important strategies. It’s important to assess your website’s performance regarding relevant site speed parameters.

If you have Google Analytics set up on your website, it will be quite easy to find the site speed assessment. Simply look for the “Page Timings” and “Speed Suggestions” reports. These reports are extremely helpful in assessing website performance. They include statistics such as top pages, performance stats, and even suggestions to improve the site speed.

The results of these analytics can be used to paint a comprehensive picture of your website’s overall appearance. Another important aspect to consider are areas for improvement.

After knowing what your website’s performance is and where your problems are, it will be easier to systematically improve your site speed.

2. Optimise images.

Simply put, the size of the images included in your content should match the pixel information of the source image. If you are featuring a small photo, maybe 200 x 200 in pixel size, it’s a problem if the photo takes 3 MB JPG in its file size. Smaller pixel dimensions should match with a small file size. Otherwise, there’s an inefficient use of storage and download capability.

To optimise images, physically compress the photos before they are uploaded into the website. This is easy with a program like Adobe Photoshop; there’s also no drastic reduction of quality. It’s important to do the resizing before uploading, instead of resizing within the CMS itself.

Another way to optimise images and image use to boost search engine optimisation is to specify width and height. There’s an option for featured images to be resized according to the screen of the viewer; this is an option that slows down site speed

Lastly, using ideally-sized photos can also lessen the burden on site speed. The ideal file size for photos falls within 15-50KB, depending on pixel dimensions.

3. Streamline code.

Bulky code can confuse the browser about what it wants to happen. Many times, website pages are designed with long streams of code that are interspersed with unnecessary functions. Proper planning of the code for the website pages can eliminate bloated code, and reduce the amount of time the browser takes to process the information. A minimalist mark-up is key to an SEO-optimised page.

Another way to streamline code is to use pre-loading scripts. This may seem obvious, but some other sites do not use pre-loading scripts. By using these scripts, images that you do not expect to change, such as the company banner and main menu, will be pre-loaded already. With pre-loaded images, load time is reduced and performance is increased.

4. Use cache.

Using cache is also another way to significantly reduce site download time. Normally, the browser requests all the content needed for a particular page: images, text, scripts from the website’s server, and other pieces of content. As you can imagine, this takes an additional amount of time you could cut off.

By enabling cache, users who allow cache would have a more efficient experience. With cache, the browser only needs to download the sections of a new page that are unique. So content like the site’s logo will be included in the cache, and won’t be re-loaded going from one section of the website to another.

5. Remove video embeds and share buttons.

Video embeds and share buttons are important tools to enhance user experience. They give visitors a more interactive way of engaging with the website’s content. But these tools take additional loading time.

In fact, the YouTube embed option, and other video embed tools, use iFrames to display the video. These embedded videos significantly slows down the site speed; iFrames basically load a whole separate page of content within the website’s page.

Share buttons are usually JavaScript-based, and slow down the page with the same principle.

6. Think mobile.

As a Singapore business, know that designing your website for mobile has never been so important these days. Mobile runs on different optimisation standards; Google’s Guidelines would be a good place to start understanding how to make mobile for the website.

But there are easy and basic techniques to optimise your site for mobile and to reduce the download time. Keep complexity low, and don’t use JavaScript. Some mobile phones aren’t equipped to read JavaScript. And you can also use dynamically resizable images for a better user experience.

Want to have the best search engine results? Looking for the best way to boost your company’s website? It’s time to consider a new SEO strategy, that is – by speeding up your site now.