Pagespeed can be defined as the measurement of time taken by the website to load completely. Pagespeed has become a crucial factor in ranking websites, because in 2010 Google announced that it will use pagespeed for ranking of websites.
Although, it was not made clear how pagespeed can be used to rank websites. For a better understanding of how pagespeed can affect website ranking, let us first consider types of pagespeed.
Pagespeed can be described into two types; one is “page load time” and the other is “time to first byte”.
Page load time is the time taken by the website to load completely and the time to first byte is the time taken by the browser to receive information from server. As Google didn’t clarify of how it will use pagespeed for website ranking, it is not sure whether Google uses “page load time” or “time to first byte” to rank website.
But some researches have been conducted to find out which criterion is being used. One such research was conducted by Billy Hoffman which is published on Moz. In his findings, he “identified that page load time” had a very little impact or no impact on the ranking of the websites and there was no direct relation between ranking and “page load time”. However, “time to first byte” had a reasonable impact on the ranking of websites. So, according to Billy, Google might be using “time to first byte” to identify the speed of the websites and to rank them. Some other researches had similar results and Billy Hoffman concludes that “time to first byte” is used as pagespeed by Google.
In light of the above given conclusions, it is clear that Google is using pagespeed as a factor for ranking websites. This means that websites which are slower are ranked lower and the websites with faster loading speed are ranked higher. So, the developers should make websites faster to rank better.
There are many causes for slower loading of websites which include the following:
- Your Website Host- Websites might load slower depending on the host of the website. Cheap hosts often provide slow pagespeed. In case of shared-hosting, usually this issue is caused, because 100’s of websites hosted on 1 server, which means 100’s of scripts are running at the server-end which slows down the server response and speed. Web admins and developers should choose the web hosts wisely if they want to rank better in the long run.
- Images that are large in size- Images, which are too large in size, take some time to load making the page load slower. It is advisable to use smaller size images or to use compressed images, so that the page loads faster. If you are using WordPress as a blogging CMS, you can find bunch of plugins that can help you reduce the image size by retaining the quality of picture like WP Smush or Jetpack by WordPress does an incredible job in hosting the images on WordPress server for free.
- Too much ads- Advertisements make page slower to load. Make sure to place only a small number of ads per page. Don’t use too much ads as this will make page slower. Too much advertisements increase the http requests which depend on Ad Servers so ultimately slows down the response and page load time.
- External embedded files- External files like presentation files, pdf file and videos make the webpage to load slower. Videos are very good for the website, though, should not be used unnecessarily. Even if you use videos, make sure to use videos that are smaller in size.
- Un-optimized pages- Sometimes you only focus on homepage and forget about inside pages. You should test all webpages through different optimization tools to optimize the webpages to load faster. Google webpage test is a utility which provides charts to optimizing browsers and webpages.
- Heavy theme- the designed theme can be too heavy to load and can make page slower. Make sure to use a simpler theme for designing the web pages because it can help in the ranking of the website. Specially use minified CSS and JS files and make a habit to load the JS files in footer area.
Tools for making web pagespeed faster:
Different tools are available online for making you page faster. Some of the tools are:
- Google Page speed Insight- This tool is offered by Google. It’s easy to use and analyzes the page and gives suggestions to improve the speed of the page.
- Webpage test- this tool is offered by AOL and it basically runs a website test. It provides charts to the owners of the web pages on how to optimize the web page.
- YSlow- is a utility which is offered by Yahoo and it provides the user with data on how to improve the speed of the webpage. It also offers a test of the website to show how the website is performing. YSlow for Chrome and YSlow for Firefox are the plugins that can help you determine the pagespeed of the website.
- YUI compressor- A must use tool which compresses the code of the website. It helps to make the code more effective and also improves the speed of the website.
- Load Impact- Unlike all other tools, it is a tool which provides a simulated situation where the website may crash and also shows how to make website better to prevent it from crashing in a real situation. It also improves the speed of the website.
- GTmetrix- GTmetrix gives you insight in detail on how well the website loads and provides recommendations on how to optimize the webpage. Key features include: PageSpeed and YSlow scores and Recommendations, Page Load Details (time, size, number of requests), Various Analysis Options and Waterfall, Video and Report History
- Pingdom Website Speed Test- easy-to-use pagespeed tool that helps webmasters and developers everywhere improve the overall performance of websites.