Don’t you find it annoying to have to wait a long time while surfing the Internet? The perceived eternity, when you just want to read information quickly, can sometimes strain our nerves. Because visitors to a non-performing website usually have to spend 50% more concentration to get to their destination. A delay of just a few seconds is enough to leave a negative impression on visitors. If you, as a website operator, do not keep an eye on the Page Speed - i.e. the loading speed of your website – you may risk business success .
Page Speed - How important is the loading time as a ranking factor?
Unofficially, Page Speed has been a ranking criterion on Google for a long time, as the loading speed of websites has a direct effect on ranking factors such as bounce rate, length of stay or click-through rate (CTR). Since the end of 2009, Google has been analyzing the loading times of websites and displaying them to every webmaster in the Search Console. However, it got really serious in July 2018 at the latest when Google released an update, which actually made Page Speed a fully-fledged ranking criterion in mobile search . This was confirmed by Google itself in a tweet at the time. Since then, Page Speed has become even more important. In times of increasing smartphone use, a fast loading time is in the interests of the user and at the same time means for the site operator that a mobile-optimized website is more important than ever.
How much Page Speed actually affects user behavior was made public by Google in a study in February 2017 that was updated a year later: The bounce rate increases with a loading time of up to three seconds – i.e. the proportion of users who that leaves the website immediately – by 32%, so you lose almost a third more visitors. As the loading time increases , the bounce rate increases even further: With a loading time of up to 6 seconds, the bounce rate is increased by 106% , i.e. more than twice as high.
In short, slow loading times have a huge impact on visitor behavior and may prevent a large number of visitors from making a purchase or making a contact request. If a website does not react quickly enough, the willingness to jump is very high and the back button in the browser is pressed quickly.
Last but not least, the Google Bot should also be considered, which has a certain time limit for each domain. If your website loads faster, the Google Bot can crawl more efficiently, which benefits indexing.
Of course, a website’s page load time is not the only ranking factor. The lowest possible bounce rate and positive user experience also depend on other criteria. Other factors such as user friendliness and product presentation also play an important role. Nonetheless, pagespeed will become more and more important, especially in view of the fact that Google will switch the crawling of websites completely to mobile-first indexing from September 2020 .
What’s the perfect loading time?
Various information and opinions are circulating on the Internet about the question of the perfect loading time. Quite often this also depends on the type of content on a website and how fast the pages of the competition load. A website that consists purely of text content often has a faster loading time than one with many graphic elements and images. However, most experts recommend a loading time of no more than one second . The average loading time of all compared websites is 2.6 seconds in this country.
How can I measure my performance?
There are numerous methods and tools for determining a website’s PageSpeed. So you could theoretically read out the server log files and stop them manually. For long-term optimization and the determination of valid data, we recommend PageSpeed Insights from Google. Not only can you use this to quickly check the loading speed, but you also receive many optimization suggestions and already optimized resources are displayed. Up to 100 points can be achieved in the evaluation. You can quickly see how your own website is doing and how far the loading time has already been optimized from Google’s point of view.
7 expert tips for PageSpeed optimization:
A good ranking, lots of website visitors and more conversions – all of this can only be achieved with a fast-loading website. You can find out below what is important for PageSpeed optimization and what measures you can take.
1- Reduce data volume and optimize images
One of the core elements of PageSpeed optimization is reducing the volume of data . This means that the data to be transferred should be kept as small as possible. In the case of image elements, for example, this means offering the graphics only in the exact size in which they are actually needed: Why save a high-resolution image with a width of 4,000 pixels when it is only displayed on the website with a width of 300 pixels? Subsequent scaling in the browser is theoretically possible, but not only has a negative effect on the PageSpeed, but often also on the image quality. Attention should also be paid to the file format and compression .
3- Use browser caching
Another possibility for PageSpeed optimization is to use browser caching : Certain elements that rarely or never change (such as the header image) can be output with the HTTP status code “304 – Not Modified”: This will result in the Browser advised not to load this data from the server on the next visit, but to pull it from its own cache.
4- Use Gzip compression
For data that still needs to be retrieved from your web server, it is worth activating gzip in order to reduce the volume of data to be transferred. The gzip compression can usually be activated very easily by adjusting the .htaccess file.
5- Reduce redirects
The redirects should be reduced as much as possible. In this context, it also makes sense to forward a subpage that has been deleted or renamed to a new relevant target URL instead of outputting a 404 error page. In contrast to this, however, it does not make sense to switch many redirects in a row: According to Sistrix, each individual redirect increases the loading time by 0.2 seconds , and the Google Bot cancels its crawling if it has not yet reached its destination after five redirects. Therefore, if possible, you should be forwarded directly to the destination without detour.
6- Prioritize loading of certain content
It can also be a little trick to load the immediately visible elements with priority and thus to ensure a better loading time. Individual graphics that only appear three screen pages below can load a little later, as the visitor has to scroll there anyway.
7- Use a dedicated server
Last but not least, the choice of the host can also influence the Page Speed. So-called “shared hosting” is often used, which means that your website is on the same physical machine with the hoster and hundreds of other pages. This can also affect the loading time. A “dedicated server”, on which only your website is located, can help . A dedicated server is often a lot more expensive, but offers not only improved speed but also other advantages such as higher security and individual administration.