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5 Tips to Optimize Page Speed for Better SEO and User Experience

Slow-loading pages are the bane of website building, hindering the user experience and negatively impacting your website's effectiveness. Optimizing your page speed is crucial for User Experience and SEO, but it's not as simple as flipping a switch. This post will guide you through five tips on how to use SEO Tools to optimize load times, ensuring your website is competitive and user-friendly.

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Why Does Page Speed Matter?

  • A 1-second delay in page load time can lead to a 7% decrease in conversions. If your website takes 1 second longer to load, you could lose 7% of potential sales or leads.

  • Google states that page speed is a ranking factor in their search algorithm. Websites with faster load times are more likely to appear higher in search results. Google's Core Web Vitals metrics measure the loading experience of a web page; these metrics include First Input Delay (FID), Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).

  • The average mobile website takes 19 seconds to load. This is significantly slower than the average desktop website, which takes 11 seconds to load.

  • 70% of mobile users will leave a website if it takes more than 5 seconds to load. If your website takes more than 5 seconds to load on mobile, you risk turning away a significant portion of your traffic.

Maintaining your SEO performance and continuing to increase traffic and lead conversions has become more critical than ever.

1.  Obtain State of the Art Web Hosting

Cutting costs on hosting may seem like a good idea, but it can hurt your website's speed and user experience. Don't be tempted to skimp on quality hosting to save money.

While, as the creator and curator of your website, you may take pride in every element of your website, users do not share the same attachment. They aim to get in and out of your site quickly, and load speed is crucial. So, optimizing your page speed is essential to ensure your website is user-friendly and competitive.

How significant could a slight delay be? As per Cloudflare, Walmart found that for every 1-second improvement in page load time, conversions increased by 2%;  COOK increased conversions by 7% by reducing page load time by 0.85 seconds; Mobify found that each 100ms improvement in their homepage's load time resulted in a 1.11% increase in conversion.

The longer you take, the less likely they will be patient with you and stick around.

Load time is a crucial aspect in the competitive world of website building. If your competitors offer a similar product and experience, faster load times can attract users to your site. You can quickly determine if your loading time needs to be improved by checking your competitor's website and comparing load times. If they load faster, then you need to keep up with them. If they're slower, then speeding up your pages can give you an easy advantage. Investing in quality web hosting is a great starting point to optimize your load times.

2. Optimize Media Files

High-resolution images and videos are incredibly accessible to anyone these days. You can point your phone's camera and shoot if you can't find what you want online. This, combined with how easy it has become to upload media to websites, results in people putting up unnecessarily large media on their sites, drastically reducing load times. It's important to optimize images and videos so that they still look good but don't cripple your page speed.

For images, it's essential to understand what file format works best for what situation. The JPG format is best for photographic images. GIFs and PNGs work better for background images, large-scale images, or solid colors.

Next, you want to make sure your images are the right size. If your website will display your image in a 400x400 pixel square, then there's no need to upload a 2400x2400 pixel image. At that point, you're just increasing load times with 0 benefits on the back end.

The same goes for videos. MP4s are usually the best way to go since they strike the perfect balance between quality and file size. You also want to ensure your video has the right dimensions for the user's screen - watch out for mobile users!

If you're using a video with no sound as a background element, you can edit the video and remove the audio track altogether. This will help make the file size even smaller and is precisely the detailed optimization you want to look out for.

Alternatively, you can upload the videos to a third-party video hosting service, like YouTube, and then use an embedded version of the video on your page. This will alleviate some of the load from your page.

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3. Use Compression

Compression is another thing to take advantage of. Compression is helpful in many ways regarding reducing file sizes and increasing load times. All media can be compressed - images, videos, audio files, anything you can think of. Several plugins will automatically compress your media files for your web pages, and make sure to use them.

You can also use GZIP compression to reduce download times on HTML and Javascript files. The best part about GZIP compression is that all browsers (including mobile) support it, so enabling it isn't difficult.

4. Cut Down HTTP Requests

One of the main issues web designers run into is that they don't always design pages with load time as their top priority - how a page looks or how much information it gives the user can often take precedence over page speed. This usually results in multiple JavaScript and CSS files being put into a page (themes, plugins, and images are the best examples), each requiring its HTTP request. HTTP requests take time, and you add a significant amount of loading time with each one you add to your page. You can reduce the number of HTTP requests by:

  • Merging various JavaScript or CSS files into single JavaScript or CSS files.

  • Get rid of as many plugins as possible, especially those with CSS or JavaScript files they need to load. Some plugins allow you to disable this, so check if that option is available!

  • Use sprites for images that you are regularly making use of (for example, your logo).

  • Try to use fonts instead of images whenever possible because fonts only need to be loaded once.

5. Load Above-the-Fold Content as a Priority

Above-the-fold content is the content that visitors see before needing to scroll down. It's basically whatever appears at the top of your page within a user's screen. You can prioritize loading these elements since they are the first things the user will see and then have your page load the rest. This may sound a bit unusual, but there isn't a point in loading things that the user can't see immediately.

Keep an eye on Google's Key Web Vitals report with critical metrics, such as Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS),  intended to help website developers and owners understand and improve the user experience of their sites.

 

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Takin
Takin
In addition to having a passion for writing, Toronto-based Takin is working on his academic career in Philosophy. He can also play the piano and sing in French.
 

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