A sound website is more than a good-looking site. Search engines, like Google, don’t index or rate websites based on beauty. They rank websites in search based on how well they are optimized. Google has found that 53% of mobile website visitors will leave if a webpage doesn’t load within three seconds. And with every second it takes for the pages on your site to load, the chances that your visitors will bounce increases. In today’s fast-paced world, of course, site speed and health are essential to Search Engine Optimization, but why? 

What is Site Speed?

Site speed is rather complex, but the most simple definition is how quickly a user can interact with a site. Site speed is the average of the page speeds. If the home page takes 10 seconds to load and the remaining four pages take 3 seconds to load, then your site speed is the average of all the pages. So for this example (10 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3) / 5 = 4.4 seconds is your site speed. You can evaluate your page speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights or other tools such as Pingdom. 

User experience is also influenced by page speed. We’ve all been on sites that take too long to load, and we quickly hit the back button. Slow load times are frustrating to the user, and they turn people away. Pages that take longer to load have a greater bounce rate and a shorter average stay on a page. Conversions have also been demonstrated to be harmed by longer loading times. 

There are numerous factors that contribute to a websites site speed, including:

  • Page file size
  • The order of the page’s code
  • Asset size (ie images, menus, buttons)
  • The user’s browser
  • Which country the user is in
  • The server’s capability
  • Redirects
  • Site Plugins
  • Site Themes and Widgets
  • Browser Extensions
  • Caching
  • Advertisements

Ways to Improve your Site Speed

Reduce File Sizes

Reduce the size of your CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files that are greater than 150 bytes using Gzip, a file compression software tool. Gzip should not be used on picture files. Instead, compress them in a software like Photoshop, where you can control the image quality.

Optimize Images

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Ensure that the image is not larger than necessary, in the correct file format (PNG is usually suitable for graphics with less than 16 colors, but JPEG is generally suitable for photos), and compressed for the web. Several browsers are now allowing and encouraging WebP files. WebP files are Google’s newest, free solution to lossless imagery. WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs. WebP lossy images are 25-34% smaller than comparable JPEG images.

Optimize Code

You may significantly enhance the performance of your page by optimizing your code (including eliminating spaces, commas, and other characters, especially emojis). Remove any code comments, formatting, or unnecessary code as well. There are several WordPress plugins that can help you with code optimization.

Review Redirects

Limit the number of redirects to a page. Your visitor will spend more time waiting for the HTTP request-response cycle to finish each time a page redirects to another page.

Reduce Render Blocking Code

Before a page can render, browsers must first create a ‘priority list’ by processing HTML. If your browser meets a render-blocking script while doing this task, it must pause and run it before proceeding.

Allow Browser Caching

Leveraging caching for returning users will significantly increase load time. The browser will house saved site information such as themes and images and bypass those assets when loading. 

Review Server Functionality

Find out how good or bad your site’s server is. The server’s response time, the amount of traffic received, the resources used on each page, and the software used by the server are affected by the hosting solution used. To improve server response time, find and fix performance bottlenecks such as slow database queries, slow routing, or lack of proper memory. The optimal server response time is less than 200ms.

What is Site Health?

There are two primary “Site Health checks” we recommend. One is the new feature in WordPress, and the other is a report provided by SEMrush. SEMrush states their site health tool is “a SEMrush metric that is quick to measure for any website, easy to understand, and based on the most important technical factors for website performance.” 

SEMrush provides you a list of all your sites issues in three categories: Errors, Warnings, and Notices. These categories will help you prioritize issues and help get your site in a more healthy position. These issues are broken into different areas of the site, from crawlability, to security, to linking, and performance.

Site health is a tool that WordPress recently introduced in an update. You can access this feature in the backend of WordPress Tools -> Site Health. Site Health will run a performance and security scan of your site, giving you recommendations and alerts to be aware of. You will get an overall score based on the amount and severity of the recommendations listed.

Some of these recommendations are simple fixes like removing unused plugins or editing the default WordPress tagline. Others are more complex to fix, like updating PHP or the SQL server. 

The main point is that just like cars; you need to maintain your website. Your site will evolve and update, and at the same time, the Internet does too. This constant change means the health score of the site changes too. A website’s health score deteriorates over time. Failure to update or optimize your website will have adverse effects on organic results and poor user experience.

Contact Aroluxe for SEO

If you think your website could use a health audit or need help making the necessary changes, Aroluxe is your go-to for all things website-related. We create aesthetically pleasing sites that are healthy and quick. Let’s get not only your users but also Google on your side. Aroluxe has the tools and expertise to get your site running smoothly, quickly, and properly.