How fast your site loads is a key ranking factor to Google, so optimizing for speedier site loading is necessary for small and local businesses that want to rank higher in search. Page speed is a big ranking factor for mobile searches. Over two years ago, Google released the Speed Update, establishing page loading speed as a full-fledged ranking factor for mobile search results. So faster is officially better.
Faster Site Loading for Better Small Business SEO
It's not just search engines that care about how fast your website loads. Mobile users aren't happy with slow loading websites, and 40% of mobile users are reported to leave a page if it doesn't load in 3 seconds. With page speed being so important, we want to give you some tips on how to get faster site loading times for your business website.
Test Your Page Speed
First things first, you can start by testing your page speed by using Google's PageSpeed Insights. Put in your website URL, and you'll get an estimation of your page speed. As a rule of thumb, if your Page Speed is not great and the Optimization score is under 70, you need to make improvements to give users a faster website.
GTmetrix also provides a free page speed tool that shows you how your site performs. You'll see why it is slow and uncover areas where you can optimize to increase loading speed. What is different about GTmetrix compared to Google's page speed tool is you can test your page in other countries, on different browsers, and at various connection speeds.
No matter what tool you use, your page speed report will detail exactly what is slowing down your website from loading fast. With this information, you can create a plan with the recommendations below.
High-quality images are attractive to both search engines and the actual humans who visit your website. Unfortunately, better quality images usually mean larger image files. You'll want to use a PNG or JPG image file for your website: PNGs are better for graphics, and JPGs are better for actual photos.
The important tip here for speeding up your website is to compress these files. You want to find a compression tool that gives you a balance of quality and size BEFORE uploading your image to the media library. You can use tools like TinyPNG or Optimizilla to shrink or compress your images without sacrificing quality.
While you're in your website dealing with images, go ahead and clear out your media library of unused images. No reason to take up space by using your website as a filing system for all your images.
At the same time, you'll want to remove spaces, commas, and other unnecessary characters from your code of optimal performance and smaller files. Use tools like Google recommended CSSNano or UglifyJS to optimize your code.
If these files are slowing down your website, you'll see a dramatic improvement in your page speed with these two tweaks.
Use Fewer Redirects
You're doing the right thing by sending users to the right page when they end up in no-mans-land on your website, but website visitors face additional waiting time because the HTTP request-response needs to happen to get them there. Don't rely on redirects to fix your site structure and user flow. Build it right from the start.
Set Browser Caching Limits
Your site users love that when they come back to your website, the browser has cached all this stylesheet and image information, so the browser doesn't have to reload the entire page every single time. But if it has been over a year since they have been on your website, they'll just have to suffer through it because you're going to set an expiration on your cache to at most one year.
With a tool like YSlow, you can set your "expires" header for how long you want information cached (again… suggesting not more than a year).
All of these tips have benefits beyond page loading speed. With these optimizations across your website, you'll be able to create backups faster, use less bandwidth on networks and browsers, and use up less storage space on your server.