Is the speed at which your site loads the end-all / be-all of SEO.  NO!!!!!!!

But it’s more important that you may think.

Let’s start out with a practical fact that has nothing to do with SEO (or does it). You never have a second change to make a first impressions.

So that important visitor to your site, that all-important prospect – you want them to have a good experience on your site right?  You don’t wan’t them to ahve to wait to have a good experience.

Speed really is a Factor in Ranking

Speed has been a factor for a while but it wasn’t until July of 2018 that it stopped being only a desktop experience question. That was when Google rolled out the Speed Update.

Google really focuses on user experience.  They want their users to have a great experience. They believe that a user finding the information they are looking for as quickly and accurately as possible is an important aspect of having a great experience.  Even off of their site. So now, when that all-important visitor/prospect shows up on your site, their experience matters.  Not just to them.  But to Google too.

So how do you get a speed optimized site?

It’s not always easy.  In many hosting environments, you may not have control over all of the aspects that could be influencing your speed.  Not all CMS’s are created equally. The same can be said for the themes, plugins, and extensions that give all the functionality and sometimes the visual appeal that you as a website owner might be looking for.

Pretty isn’t always fast!

Animations, hover effects, big pretty graphics. All of these increase the footprint of your page. Now, a single, simple hover animation – a line or two of css – won’t have an appreciable affect. But what if there are hundreds of these on a page.  What if the animations and transitions require complex javascripts calling resources from external libraries?  Not so fast. Big images and video backgrounds can take a long time to download. So just keep in mind that pretty and engaging may not always be fast.  But that doesn’t mean that fast has to be minimalistic and ugly.

Here are a couple of things to look at for every page of your site:

  1. Are the images optimized for the sizes they are being displayed in. If an image is being displayed in a space that is never larger than 350 pixels wide – do you really need a 800 pixel wide image?  Or was that just an easy average for you to go with?
  2. Are you taking advantage of Caching tools?
    1. Javascript minification and consolidation – why call that script each time it is used on a page?
    2. CSS minification and consolidation – do we really need 10 different style-sheets?
    3. Are browser caching rules applied to all of your pages and elements?
  3. Are you on a shared server environment?  How busy / over-worked is it? Speed vs. Price – which is more important to you?

How do I measure speed on my site?

 There are millions of tools out there. But I’m a fan of GT Metrix. But it can almost be a little bit of information overload for those that don’t know what all of the information that can get thrown at you means.

Google’s PageSpeed Insights is another good resource, but can also be a bit daunting.

 At the end of the day, you are going to need to understand the details that any of these speed test sites are giving you, in order to do anything about the issues your pages face. Or somebody to help you through the process.