Does Page Load Speed Affect SEO?

Johnny
Jul 20th 20

Please Note: At the time of this article being published Dog Byte Marketing was built strictly on WordPress. However, I have since redesigned and built Dog Byte Marketing from the ground up in React using Gatsby and GraphQL. The benefits in speed are ten fold. Speed is such a serious trait that Google monitors, that I continue on my journey to being the fastest. We do offer services to migrate companies to react via our Custom Services page. Here is an up to date report from Lighthouse by Google.

Many have asked the question on if Page Speed affects Google or other Search Engine rankings toward your website. The answer is yes and it was confirmed by Google. Google even has their own page speed rank checker called PageSpeed Insights and you can even check page size and load time via Pingdom. If Google didn’t think it was important in their ranking, why release a tool at all? There’s a reason for this, and that is because statistics show that users will leave a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Therefor since Google tracks if someone returns to the search results and bases their algorithms around this, then anyone who leaves will basically mark that website as not relevant. Since this is the case it does affect your SEO, we am here to help you take another step in reaching your SEO goals. If you followed our last post on the Top Free WordPress Plugins we helped you in one step to improving your SEO using Yoast. While this plugin alone will help you gain more Organic Search traffic, there is always room to improve. Now we are looking to improve our time on page. If you have Google Analytics installed I recommend you setting up a time one page goal so that you can see the increase if you have a high load time. Check Pingdom for your current load times. Here are current results without any changes to Dog Byte Marketing.

As you can see our speed is already pretty close to the 3 second standard. However there is always room for improvement. We’re only 50% faster than other test sites, which means the other 50% are faster than us and could potentially push past us in the rankings. So what can we do to improve the speed? There’s one plugin that works very well and is plug and play.

Autoptimize

This plugin allows you to optimize your HTML, Javascript, and CSS to reduce size and decrease page load speeds. How does this work? It minifies them by removing whitespace and compresses your files. Here is what our Pingdom and PageSpeed Insights looked like after installing and activating the plugin.

As you can see it dropped our page size a whole 1.1 MB. and reduced our load time by almost half a second. This may not seem like much, but keep in mind there are still mobile users out there with 3G or lesser speeds, throttling even drops some mobile users like Virgin Mobile to 2G speeds which is 50 kbit/s. That means our 4MB page would take 11 minutes to download to their phones. However, if we are compressing our files and minifying them, we make it easier for mobile users to download our website’s content. Instead of downloading multiple files, they download fewer. We are sure you have transferred to a usb drive before, what takes longer 1MB tranfer or 1000 1KB files? Same concept. This is just one of the ways to help reduce your page load size and speed.

Comet Cache

This plugin is the next step in our adventure to improve our SEO and page performance. This plugin will help reduce our size and speed even further. The way it works is instead of relying on server sided code to execute, take time and large amount of resources to render the page (which under heavy traffic can make your site slower) it compiles all this data for your webpages and saves them as cached html files to serve to your visitors. This will reduce server load, save page size, and speed up your website further. After combining these two powerful plugins, take a look at our Pingdom and PageSpeed results now.

Wow! We cut our page load time in half! Our file size is drastically reduced, and our Google PageSpeed Insights rank drastically increased. You can’t see the desktop tab in the above image, but when we started it was at 67% and now it’s at 80% and in the green. We are also 79% faster than other tested websites vs 50% which will make a huge impact on our SEO game. All of this was achieved using the default settings, but depending on your server settings you may need to add the following line to your php.ini file.

zlib.output_compression = On

You can test to make sure GZIP Compresion is working via Check GZIP Compression by entering in your website.

These are just a couple ways to help improve your SEO and PageSpeed Ranking. You could go even further by using the plugin Smush to compress your images. It’s 100% free just like all of the other plugins, but does have a pro version available as the free version has a 1MB compression limit. It will use lossless compression methods so it keeps your image high quality, but a reduced file size. This will help reduce your page size going forward as it will compress every image you upload, up to 1MB. However to do previous images you do have to go to your List View in Media Library and one by one Smush your already uploaded images. We did it on Dog Byte, but as time consuming as it was, it didn’t help with our page size or speed as before we uploaded our images we put them through a compression services such as TinyJPG or Caesium.

However now we have it going forward so we do not have to take a step back from our process to compress our images, every image we upload now will automatically be compressed by Smush. You can even set it up to resize and compress the images so that your file sizes are even lower.