How to improve WordPress website speed and SEO

how to improve wordpress website speed and seo

Website speed has a significant and measurable impact on SEO. Since Google’s Mobilegeddon, discussions have primarily focused on page load times and website improvement. I will take you through the influence of website speed on SEO and how you can improve both.

How a slow website impacts your earnings

A loading time of 2-4 seconds is optimal for any website, so a delay of 1-2 seconds can negatively impact your earnings.

These impacts can include:

  • Loss of website traffic: Visitors that experience a slow-performing website are unlikely to visit the same website. This decreases incoming traffic, which can result in lost revenue for the business. 
  • A search engine ranking nosedive: A good search engine ranking can bring high traffic to your website. Most popular search engines, such as Google, give higher rankings to sites with fast page load speed. Fast websites are usually listed on the first page by search engines, which results in more clicks. 
  • Poor customer experience: Visitors tend to lose interest in a website in around 8 seconds. Thus, slow loading times may cause the visitors to close the site and never return. Negative reviews could prevent other users from trusting your business.
  • High bounce rates: Slow page loading is one of the most common reasons for high bounce rates, whereby visitors leave the website after opening a single page. 

What Should Your Page Speed Be?

The page loading speed should be quick without compromising on customer experience. For instance, if you improve the desktop website speed but your visitors use mobiles, you won’t serve the majority of your audience.

Google Core Web Vitals impact on website speed and SEO

Core Web Vitals is a page experience metric from Google to decide what type of experience your visitors get when they land on your website.

Why are Core Web Vitals important?

These factors determine the page quality experience on Google:

  • HTTPS
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Safe-browsing
  • Non-intrusive popup ads

Core Web Vitals comprise the largest chunk of your page experience score. But, page experience is one factor amongst others to rank sites.

Core Web Vitals Metrics

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

LCP refers to your page loading performance. Thus, LCP is the time from clicking on a link to viewing most of the content on the screen. The majority of other page speed measurements do not represent what the user’s experience of opening a webpage is like.

Here are some things to consider to improve LCP: 

  • Remove third-party scripts
  • Upgrade your web host
  • Remove large elements from pages
  • Minimise CSS as they delay page load times

First Input Delay (FID)

FID measures the responsiveness of your webpage. This particular metric measures the time between a user’s interaction with the page and when the browser responds to the interaction. Some examples of interactions include selecting an option from a menu and clicking submit after filling out a form on a website.

These are the primary issues to address to improve FID:

  • Minimise JavaScript
  • Remove unnecessary third-party scripts
  • Use a browser cache to assist in loading pages faster

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

CLS is the visual stability of a page as it loads. For example, you might have to keep scrolling to read a paragraph because videos keep loading. This shows signs of a poor on-page experience. 

Here are some things you can do to minimise CLS:

  • Add new UI elements below the fold
  • Ensure that elements have reserved space so they don’t push content down while loading
  • Use set size attribute dimensions for videos and images

Measuring Website Speed and SEO

GTmetrix is one of the most popular tools for website speed and performance testing. It scans your website to test the performance. Previously, GTmetrix relied on the outdated PageSpeed and YSlow libraries to scan your website. However, it didn’t assess the webpage’s actual performance. 

To address this shortcoming, GTmetrix modified its algorithm to use Google’s Latest Lighthouse Metrics. It utilises field data given by the Chrome User Experience Report. Lighthouse is Google’s open-source tool for analysing a webpage’s performance, SEO, and more. 

GTmetrix’s Legacy Report looks similar to the new GTmetrix reports, but they leverage different testing methods. 

The differences between both the reports include:

  • The Legacy report focuses on the structure of the webpage. But, the new GTmetrix report reflects website performance. Thus, with the new GTmetrix report, you can compare the performance score to Lighthouse’s performance score. Additionally, you can also see the structure score, which is GTmetrix’s assessment of how well the web pages adhere to practices.
  • The Legacy report displays page details with raw stats, which do not prove what an average visitor experiences while on a website. The new GTmetrix report shows the Core Web Vital matrix. 
  • The new GTmetrix report includes tabs for summary, performance, and structure. 
  • It also provides a speed visualisation overview that gives users more context on the metrics regarding the visitor’s experience. 

Optimising Website Speed and SEO

There are a few different tools to check the load time on your website. In my experience, Google Lighthouse and GTmetrix are very comprehensive tools to get you started.

How to improve the page load time

I recommend that you take a look at the following steps to improve the page load time for your website:

  • Optimise images for load time: Images have a huge influence on page load time. Therefore, the LazyLoad plugin can be used to ensure that only images on the screen are loaded initially.
  • Optimise images for size: Upload images that are no bigger than they need to be, as images with smaller pixel density load faster. 
  • Optimise images for format: Users can convert some of the larger images to see an improvement. 
  • Optimise content: By utilising internal linking and breadcrumbs, the user experience may improve. This helps your website to rank higher in search engines.
  • Reduce redirects: Every time your webpage redirects to another page, it adds time to the page load speed. 
  • Improve hosting: Consider upgrading to a more robust hosting solution as low-quality web hosts greatly impact slow page load speed.
  • Install plugins: Install an efficient speed optimisation plugin such as W3 Total Cache.

Improve website speed and SEO with Conetix

Website speed and SEO are crucial for any business. You could have the most attractive-looking website in the world, but if it loads slowly on any device, it can negatively impact your earnings. 

Conetix provides Australian businesses with fast and reliable hosting on an Australian-based cloud network. Visit our Managed WordPress Hosting page to learn more about the benefits Conetix can offer you.

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Jamin Andrews

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