In light of recent Google algorithm updates, it is becoming increasingly more intricate and complex to properly optimize a website for better search engine rankings. In an effort to overcome black hat SEO practices which pollute the search results, Google’s updates (namely ‘Penguin’ and ‘Panda’) focus to ensure that only high quality, user-friendly websites earn top keyword placements.
This requires a careful approach to SEO that reflects only the natural ways in which a website earns search engine popularity. Although optimized website content and link building are still important factors, website load speed is an often overlooked aspect that can impact SEO performance. And what’s great about this form of website optimization is that improving load speed is purely natural – nothing black hat about it.
Quick browsing speeds and improved website loading time are important for two primary reasons:
- Visitors can have a better experience on your website (usability)
- Search engine spiders can crawl and index your website more efficiently (SEO)
Research shows that 16% of most online visitors will leave a site that take over 10 seconds to render. If a website takes of 15 seconds to load, then that percentage of visitors who may bounce increases to 50%. As a result, it is important to acknowledge the load speed of your website, not only for the sake of users, but also for search engine optimization.
Tips to Optimize Website Loading Speed
- Avoid the use of Flash media: Flash media elements can be visually stimulating and interactive for users, but they significantly hinder the loading speed of websites. Although Google spiders are now capable of crawling and indexing websites with Flash, it’s still likely that spiders will choke when they hit such coding structures. If it is absolutely necessary to use Flash media, try to make the file as small as possible.
- Minimize image size: Compacting the size of large image files can significant reduce loading speed. The initial step to do this entails pinpointing the images on your site that can be either eliminated or optimized. In some cases, it may be appropriate to crop your images and use them in the form of thumbnails. Even though this process can take a lot of work, these steps will increase the loading speed of your website tremendously.
- Use load speed optimization tools: There are a number of handy tools that are tailored specifically to reduce the load time of a page. One such tool is the Labs tool in Google Webmaster Tools. This tool is available for free and can help you pinpoint weaknesses on your website.
Aside from the tips provided above, the art of website optimization for improved loading speed centers on minifaction. That’s a computer programming lingo that depicts the process of removing all unnecessary characters from the source code of page, without altering its functionality. It’s also important to note that load time is just one small variable in SEO. Keyword relevancy, on-site authority, and establishing a powerful web presence are additional ingredients for a successful SEO recipe.