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How to Improve Your Website Speed

With Google’s newly unveiled Speed Update ranking algorithm, now’s the perfect opportunity to take a look at your site’s page speeds. Here’s what you should know.

Katie Caron
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(Photo: Igor Miske)

Last month, Google unveiled its new “Speed Update” ranking algorithm, which uses page loading speeds on mobile as a ranking factor. Google has used page speed as a ranking factor on desktop for some time, but the mobile search update highlights just how important site page speed is across platforms.

If you haven’t paid much attention to your site’s page speed, now is a good time to give it a look. Here’s a rundown on why you should care and what you can do to improve it.

Why You Should Care

Not only is page speed a Google ranking factor, but it also impacts your site’s user experience, which by extension impacts your conversions. According to research from Akamai and Gomez.com, 47 percent of consumers expect a site to load in two seconds or less. The research also found that 79 percent of respondents said they would not return to a site with poor performance. Fifty-two percent of respondents said quick page loading times are key to their loyalty. The bottom line is that your site users want a fast, seamless experience, and if they don’t get it, they’ll click away and likely won’t come back.

What You Can Do

The first step is assessing how your pages are performing. Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a great resource for testing page speed — you simply input your URL and Google will tell you your page speed on mobile and desktop along with some helpful optimization suggestions. Other tools to check out include TestMySite, Chrome User Experience Report and Pingdom.

One common culprit of long page loading times is unoptimized images. If your images are too large, they’ll load slowly. If that’s the case, deleting your site’s images isn’t the solution — 67 percent of shoppers say high-quality images are important on product pages, according to MDG Advertising. If your images are cropped correctly but still too large, you can compress them using online tools like ImageOptim or TinyPNG. Just make sure your images are still high-quality and don’t look blurred or pixely, as low-res images could also drive consumers away.

If you’re noticing slow page loading times, you might also want to look into your web host. If you got an impossibly cheap deal on your site’s web host, it might be slowing down your pages because it’s overflowing with websites and traffic. You might have to pay a bit more, but investing in high-quality web hosting will make your life easier in the long run.

Beyond these issues, there are some other more complicated factors that can contribute to slow page loading times. If you’ve made the changes you can and you’re still not seeing great results, it’d be wise to consult with a web developer for expert input.

Ultimately, no matter how well-designed and robust your website is, you won’t reach your potential unless your pages load quickly. How do you make sure your site is operating smoothly for your customers? Let us know in the comments!

Photo: Igor Miske

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