Page Speed Ranking Factors and How to Fix Them on WordPress

Page speed is the amount of time it takes for a browser to render or load a page. Google has confirmed they use page speed as a ranking factor, and there are several reasons for this. When people browse the internet, they prefer not to wait around while a website loads slowly in front of them.

A search engine’s primary goal is to deliver results to users that help to answer their queries. But if a result takes a long time to load, it is irrelevant how good the content is because most people will not wait. Therefore, Google places a large amount of ranking weight for how quickly and efficiently a website can load.

Using the help of an SEO specialist, we have created a list of factors that every website owner should consider reviewing and optimizing.

Monitor and Review Your Page Speed

Before implementing any changes to your website, it is best practice to complete a page speed test before and after any changes have been applied. Here are three tools you can use:

–      Google Page Speed Insights

–      Pingdom

–      GT Metrix

Please note: When using Pingdom, don’t forget to select the server closest to you.

Enable Compression

The backbone of any website is usually made up of:

HTML files used to help create a structure to the page help set the foundation for all the elements.

CSS files whose primary role is to help style the page using colors, font sizes, etc. and;

JavaScript Files, also knows as JS that helps to allow functionality on a website such as opening and closing windows and completing fields in a contact form.

When a browser attempts to download a page, it will contact the hosting server and request access to them. Compressing the files helps reduce the size of them, which will improve the time it takes for the browser to download and render the page to the user.

Minify HTML, CSS & JS Files

When a developer creates a file, it will typically appear structured and easy to navigate. However, once the files have been completed, all the white space will still be visible, which does not help the page speed time as all it is doing is increasing the length of the file. The process of minifying the files removes all of the white space.

Page Caching

Page caching is the process of storing all the files onto a user’s browser. Therefore, whenever a user revisits a website, most files have already been saved, and this will dramatically improve the amount of time it takes for the pages to be rendered. It also helps to alleviate stress on the hosting server as there will be fewer people requesting files from it.

Content Delivery Networks

Also known as CDN’s, is the process of hosting your website on servers placed all around the globe. Whenever browsers request the files to a website, they will be directed to the closest server, which will help improve page speed load time.

CDN’s are more critical for global companies such as Amazon and Apple as their visitors are continually visiting their sites from locations worldwide. However, a local plumbing business can usually ignore using CDN’s, and it may be more beneficial using a closer hosting server.

Images – Lazy Loading

Images are usually the densest parts of a website and should be optimized before being uploaded to the site. Once you have scaled the image to be the correct size, use an image optimizer tool to compress the file. Doing this will help to make it as light as possible and also remove unnecessary EXIF data

Lazy loading is the process of only loading images as a user scrolls down the page. It helps to reduce unnecessary loading of images a visitor may not even view if they select another page on your website.

How to Fix These Issues

On a WordPress website, the easiest and most efficient way is to download W3 Total Cache. Once enabled, it is as easy as ticking all the relevant boxes, and the plugin will take care of the rest.

Do not forget to conduct tests before and after each change to verify that there have been definite improvements on your page speed load time.

Other Page Speed Improvements – WP Themes

This article has focused principally on issues that can be improved once the website has already been built. However, one of the biggest and most common problems that impact a WordPress website is using a theme.

Themes are popular because of the simplicity of using them; however, they are usually designed to cater to everyone. Therefore, they will include a myriad of options that likely do not apply to every website. However, because they were built into the theme, they will be a part of the website regardless of whether you use them. As a result, visitors to your site will need to download all this extra code, which may be impacting the page speed time.

Themes can be a cost-efficient and easy way of getting started; however, as your business grows, it can be worthwhile considering hiring a professional developer to build you a custom website. Doing this will ensure that your site only has features that are required and will reduce your website’s size.

Other Page Speed Improvements – Website Hosting

We have saved the best to last because hosting is one of the most essential areas for improving any website’s page speed. A website needs to be stored on a server until a browser requests the files.

Usually, most business owners, especially start-ups, will try to do their hosting on a budget to use their cash flow for other areas to help scale the business. It may not be a bad idea to begin with, but it could be costing you more money than you are saving because of the loss of customers who have become sick and tired of waiting for your site to load.

Conclusion

Page speed is an essential factor every website owner should consider because happy customers will equate to a more satisfying business, leading to more cash in our back pocket.

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