What is Page Speed?
Most people in SEO assess the page speed on the basis of 3 factors:
- Fully loaded page
- Time to first byte (TTFB)
- First meaningful text
- Full loaded page: As it is clear from the name, it is the time taken for a page to load fully. This includes all the elements on the page like text, images, vidoes, animations, etc.
The page will only load fast when all its elements, in together, can load fast.
- TTFB (Time to First Byte): Sure, we can wait in long queues for a sunday brunch or can wait for days before an online order arrives! But, when it comes to fetching results online, our patience shrinks majorly!
As the name defines, it is the time taken by the browser to receive the very first byte of information from the server. It’s usually in milliseconds.
In other terms, it’s the time taken by the server to receive the request and time in which it can deliver the data.
Google calls it ‘waiting’ in its language.
It happens in 3 steps:
Step 1: Making a request to server: when a person taps on your website, a http request is made by the web browser to the web server in order to fetch data. There can be a delay in this process due to many factors like, server being far away from the request location.
Step 2: Processing made by the server: this is when the server has received the request and processes it.
Step 3: Responding back: now, the data or the first byte is sent to the browser. However, if your network speed is slow, this process can get delayed.
Two clear disadvantages for a site that works poor with their TTFB are:
1. Number of visitors to your site will dramatically go down.
2. Search engines will not rank your page considering the fact that it works slow.
So, what time is a good time for a site to load its TTFB?
Well, as per Google, a site should not have TTFB of more than 200 milliseconds.
A long TTFB will not only affect your website, but will give rise to ‘pogo sticking’.
This is when users return back from your website irritated as your site took too long to get loaded and they visit other pages in your competition.
There can be many reasons for a slow TTFB. Some of them include:
1. There can be many heavy elements due which only a few specific pages on your site will load slow. It is important to remove those elements from your pages.
3. Too large images: it’s always a good practice to optimize your images. Usually when you add high resolution, big size images, your site will run slow.
Apart from the images, there are formats like png and gif that load slow on any website. Therefore, it is always suggested to not upload images in these formats.
4. High amount of HTTP requests: it is one of the major reasons for slow websites. When you click on a page, the browser sends HTTP requests for the content of the website to be accessed. However, these requests can get delayed due to heavy codes present on your site.
5. Heavy content: heavy content on your website includes videos, audios and heavy animations. You can either minimize it or delete it.
6. Poor codes: codes are the framework of any website. It is important to manage and audit them regularly for proper working of your website. Do not leave extra space between the lines, writing unnecessary lines or try writing shorter codes. Clean and near codes will not hamper your site speed.
3. First meaningful text: First meaningful text or first meaningful paint is the time taken by the primary content of your page to get loaded.
You must have noticed that sometimes a page appears blank before anything gets loaded on it. As we discussed above in TTFB, users don’t have more than 1-2 seconds to wait for your page to load. With so much content out there, they are spoiled with choices.
However, there are a few smart ways to trick the users during the load time that will not make it look boring:
- You can create an illusion for the visitors during the loading time. You can use a small blurred image that will make them feel that the actual image is getting loaded and the page doesn’t appear to be blank.
- Blur-up is another tactic used to keep the visitors engaged. You can use thumbnails working as placeholders while the image is still getting loaded.
How to improve Site Speed
Page size / file size
There can be many bulky files on your website including, high resolution images, videos, animations, graphics, etc. these are heavily hamper the speed of your website.
This can also happen when you don’t have clean codes on your site. Many times people use the flash tool for making their site more interactive in nature. These are usually bulky files that take much longer to load than the regular content.
When a page is getting loaded, an HTTP request is made for every element that’s getting loaded. If there are too many requests for these elements, you need to cut down on them.
Make sure that your page is not too heavy as it will irritate the visitors and they will exit from your website.
Hence, your web page gets loaded faster by working on your codes. Try replacing extra code lines with smaller ones and keeping it light.
Cache plugin is used to achieve the same.
If you have a new website, you are likely to buy a cheap hosting. In the beginning, the drawbacks of buying a cheap hosting may not be much visible, but as you add more content on it and the number of visitors on your site increases, this will start causing problems.
The three main type of hostings include:
Shared hosting: this is the cheapest option in hosting services. Generally, people with new websites prefer to go with it.
As the traffic and content on the site increases, shared hosting can become a major reason for decreased site speed.
- Dedicated server: here, only you have the access to the whole hardware of the server. Here, you have maximum access and flexibility.
- VPS hosting: this hosting option lies in between shared and dedicated hosting. Here, you don’t get full access to the server. You share it with other websites but get the dedicated portion of the resources.
Caching the browser
Caching is a widely accepted practice to improve your site’s speed. It allows you to store the copies of files on your website. They try to lessen the work done by the server when a request is made by the browser for some content.
It will lower down your time to first byte (TTFB) by allowing the server to use less resources while a page gets loaded.
When a request is made for the first time, resources need to be extracted from the server. But when a request is made a second time, these resources are already there on the browser. This is known as the browser caching.
That is why it takes longer for a search result to get loaded the first time as compared to the second time.
You can use W3 total cache for caching your website.
Use CDN (Content Delivery Network)
To put it simply, it means downloading resources from the nearest of the servers. Your files are not just stored on one single server but a full network of servers. This helps in fetching data from the nearest one, therefore, cutting down on extra time.
This helps in cutting down the number of requests made during loading of your page and the bandwidth is reduced by almost 60%.
You can use Cloudflare for putting your website on CDN.
Page Speed Test
After diagnosing these speed problems, you can go for some tools to ease your task.
Google’s Page Speed Insight tool is one of the best tools for it. Enter the URL and let the tool do its thing!
Any score above 80 is decent.
If you’d like a second opinion, use a tool such as GTmetrix.