Site speed isn’t exactly a glamorous subject, so I don’t blame you if you’ve been avoiding giving it much thought.
But reality isn't always convenient - site speed is becoming more and more important, and internet user attention spans definitely aren't getting any longer.
Perhaps even more importantly, Google's paying attention to this particular issue, and that 8 second load-time is having an affect on your rankings whether you like it or not.
More and more, site owners are coming to understand that site speed is part of any good SEO strategy . So put your learning caps on, let's dig in.
How Much Does It Actually Matter?
Let me stop you right there.
This isn’t one of those things that you can just dismiss and say “it’s just for the perfectionist” or “I don’t have enough traffic for this to matter”.
Site speed matters for every website, and does so for a variety of reasons. You’d be wise not to dismiss them.
First and foremost, think about your visitors and their browsing habits. A few facts:
Image courtesy Kissmetrics
As if those weren’t enough to convince you, I’ll go ahead and let you know that Google cares as well - and that should stand to reason right?
At the end of the day, Google’s goal is to improve the internet for users, it’s in their best interest to continually encourage site owners to engage in good behavior and make the web a safer and more enjoyable experience. And with so many internet users flagging that site speed is important, it’s only natural that Google would take it into consideration in its algorithm.
In fact, this is anything but news - Google announced back in 2010 that site speed was indeed a ranking factor, so you can bet this hasn’t changed considering it’s been corroborated by third party data time and time again.
How to Measure Site Speed
First off, you’re going to need to measure your site’s speed in order to assess whether or not it needs any love.
There are a number of tools available to you, and all of them are free to use.
You’ll probably end up with a favorite, but I’d recommend using all of them as you make your way through the process. I say this because each tool has a unique presentation and some display slightly different information to others.
Lastly (and this is a big caveat), please keep in mind that score is definitely not the only thing that matters here. The score is a benchmark that will also vary between the different tools - there's no universal metric for page speed scoring.
What you need to remember is that each situation is unique. You may have a particular implementation that doesn’t reflect well in terms of a YSlow score, but that doesn’t mean that Google will penalize your site or that your load time will be inordinately high.
The bottom line is that the scores are a guideline - don’t set an arbitrary goal and try to get to a specific number. If you do take that approach, you may quickly find yourself making unnecessary sacrifices and cutting useful resources from your site in order to reach that benchmark.
Just keep an open mind and you’ll be fine. The tools I’d recommend using are:
Google PageSpeed Insights
Google, of course, has it’s own tool , and this is where you should start your journey.
It’s definitely not the most robust of the bunch - in fact, it’s easily the most bare-bones of all of the tools we’re going to discuss. But that being said, it’s still a decent place to start your journey.
Take a look at what it recommends for your site and you should come away with a decent idea of what areas you should look to improve upon.