Web Development

How to Improve Your Website Load Time for SEO Benefit

There is nothing more annoying than a webpage that just won’t load. It’s that simple. You go to a webpage, get impatient, and then leave to find another webpage. If you’re like me, you have several different webpages loading at the same time, and if one is too slow it gets the “x.” As a consumer, this isn’t a problem. As a business owner, this is a huge problem. Believe it or not, this problem extends far beyond just annoying and turning away readers. If your website has a very slow load time, your SEO could also be suffering.

The way it works is this: Google wants every website to be as helpful to the user as possible. This involves relevant and unique content, easy to navigate webpages, a good reputation (usually shown through quality links), and then the amount of time it takes a user to get to the website. Google will rank your website based on these different factors, so it’s important to continually check and improve your website’s load time.

How to Check and Improve Your Website’s Load Time

Getting this aspect of SEO under control isn’t too difficult as long as you keep consistent. The first step is always to determine the current load time of your website. After all, you can’t fix a problem until you know your current status and what’s causing that problem. The easiest way to do this is to use a tool such as Google Pagespeed Insights in order to determine where exactly you need to make changes.

Once you run this report, you will find a few different things that will help your website load times speed up and stay quick:

  • Image Optimization. This is probably the number one reason that websites struggle with load times. You want your website to have a lot of great images to catch a readers attention, but these images take a lot of time to load. You don’t necessarily need to remove these images, however, all you need to do is optimize them. You can make this happen by using different tools to compress your images and file sizes (without changing the look of your site). Learn more information here.
  • Decrease HTTP Requests. This point has to do with the code of your website. An HTTP request is essentially a way of talking about the things that are needed to deliver your website to users. One of the easiest ways to do this is by compressing and/or combining your CSS files. Tools such as Google Closure Compiler can help you get started and help you learn more about how to combine CSS files as well as convert graphical text to CSS text.
  • External CSS Files. If you can house your CSS (and JavaScript if applicable) files externally, you’ll have much more space on your website. This will allow a user’s browser to cache the files automatically, which helps to cut down on load times significantly. You can learn more about how to house these files externally here.
  • Content Delivery Network. A content delivery network, or CDN, is essentially a way to cache your content from your servers closer to your user’s location. The content is duplicated onto multiple servers so that your users can automatically use the one that’s closest to them; thus cutting down on loading times. There are many different CDNs to choose from, so it’s worth a look around the Internet to see different features of each.

In the end, the importance of website loading time is only going to increase. People now have more and more choices online when it comes time to find information, and a fast loading time could be the deciding factor. Google has now made this a part of their ranking algorithm, so this will also help you gain top rankings for increased clicks.

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