From ProBlogger SEO expert Jim Stewart of Bloggers SEO
Last year the Australian retailer Booktopia gave a presentation where they shared that speeding up their page load times by 1 second, equated to an extra $600,000 on the bottom line.
Today, speed matters. Turning your blog into a highly optimised, relevant, platform takes time. Fortunately, SEO has shortened the distance between blog owner and reader. In 2017, users will ‘reject’ websites that don’t stack up, speed-wise. While acceptable load page times range from .5 seconds to four seconds, most support a 1.5-second load time for continuous success.
Today’s top 20 websites have lead times under this at less than one second, and they’re only getting faster. So, how can you make your site rank higher, perform faster, and remain popular? SEO, still, is the answer. It’s also an incredibly reliable one.
Speed and SEO: What’s the Connection?
The Googlebot crawls sites independently, judging their worth based upon several factors. Of these factors, site speed is the easiest to control. Speed, itself, is derived from the time it takes between site clicks and views. If your website is fully optimised, it’ll take only half of a second to load. Google research suggests that pages can lose as much as 40 percent of traffic when they take over three seconds to load; a powerful SEO option is unbeatable. Simply put; you need to clear your database—and often. Having a fast database will speed up the site. There are many quality WordPress database cleaners available. I recommend the rvg database optimiser plugin that is a simple ‘One-click’ WordPress database cleaner and optimiser that assists you in crucial tasks such as deleting old posts, optimising database tables, and creating optional log-files.
How Can You Measure Speed?
Because speed is an all-important website factor, it’s important to check it often. You can use Google PageSpeed Insights, entering your page’s URL to check its response speed. Once it’s been analysed, you’ll be presented with a page report. This report assesses your page and delivers a rating out of 100, taking into account factors such as user experience, and makes suggestions for faster speeds. Each recommendation is clickable, linking you to additional advice. You can also use Google Search Console’s Crawl Stats report. Under crawl stats, you will see a green line graph. This is the average speed it takes the Googlebot to download a page. Try to get this under an average of 500ms.
Once you have your SEO plan, optimised the database, and have created a speed benchmark, you should further boost your site’s speed by making sure you have a good workflow for optimising images. So many blogs upload huge images when they don’t need to. Make sure the images you upload have a resolution no larger than what they need to be displayed. I have seen thumbnail images on a webpage that were huge files just because they were not re-sized before upload. With images, you can also use compression plugins such as WP Smush that will compress the files once you have uploaded them.
There are many ways of optimising your page’s speed. That said, few come close to the power of hosting your WordPress site with WP Engine. They offer today’s best-in-class customer service, which is vital to website upkeep. WP Engine is built on EverCache, an architecture that creates reliable, scalable sites. Remember: Your site’s visitors are an impatient bunch. If your site loads slowly, they’ll seek business elsewhere. The EverCache platform helps sites run up to six times faster, using effective front-end technology. All WP Engine users benefit from the enterprise-grade software capable of continuously improving a website.
A Step Above the Rest
Note: We’re hearing a lot of very good things about WPEngine if you’re looking for hosting of an established site with more traffic (or want to position yourself for that in the future). They are more expensive but, as WordPress specialists, they are doing some great things for bloggers. Use ProBlogger's partner link and you’ll get 2 months free when you sign up for an annual plan.
WP Engine is also designed for completely scalable WordPress hosting. Its proprietary, front-end build operates upon a slew of carefully designed rules. Each rule is continuously checked for maximum performance, so you don’t need to worry about outdated solutions. Offering one of the best caching mechanisms available, WP Engine also reduces server load. Really, it’s a win-win situation in terms of boosting speed. By being instantly accessible while handling high concurrent traffic numbers, WP Engine isn’t only one of the fastest-working options around—it’s one of the most reliable.
At the end of the day, your website’s speed will determine its memorability, popularity, and use. Forty seven percent of consumers, in fact, expect a web page to load in under two seconds.