Your website’s speed is one of the most important factors determining your audience’s experience. Especially as more and more people turn to the web for information on trending topics or just to learn something new, sluggish website speeds can seriously hamper your SEO strategy.
But how can you tell whether or not your site’s speed is OK? What constitutes “fast loading” on your blog, and what values should you shoot for? Before you begin your SEO optimization journey, it’s important to understand what makes up a fast website.
Features That Make Up a FAST Web-Site
To ensure that your website loads as quickly as possible, you should work to incorporate the following features:
- responsive web design
- reduced images
- compressed CSS
- gzip/deflate content delivery
- HTTP/2.0 protocol
- fast caching
- a web application firewall (WAF)
What Makes for a RESPONSIVE Web Design?
If you’re reading this, I assume you’re already pretty familiar with the basics of web design. Designing a website involves many different aspects, but at the end of the day, you’re still just stacking text, images, and links.
While some might argue that a traditional website is still effective today, web design has changed significantly in the past ten years. Thanks to technological advances and better browser implementations, web design is now fully responsive. Your website will look perfect in any size, whether it’s a phone, tablet, or computer monitor. This is great because it means that your content will always be accessible to your audience regardless of what device they choose to view your content on. The only downside is that making a website responsive can be a bit more complicated than usual. So if you’ve never done so, now might be a good time to learn more.
Having numerous images on your site can vastly improve its performance, especially if they are large in size. But having too many images can cause major issues. A good rule of thumb is only to include images that are either:
- relevant to the topic you’re writing about
- helpful in illustrating your point
- attracting the eye of the viewer
- large in size
- high quality
- appropriate for commercial use
Keeping too many images on your site can drastically decrease its speed. So try to keep the number of images to a minimum. For best results, use a service like Imgur, which provides you with a standard image to use in all your posts. That way, when you post an image, it will load quickly, thanks to the pre-built cache from Imgur. Plus, when someone clicks on an image, it will take them to your blog post rather than a separate web page of a news article with an accompanying image.
Compressed CSS is a method of compressing all the style sheets on your site. This means that all the style sheets will be combined into a single text file, drastically decreasing the amount of data transferred to your audience. Style sheets can be up to 50% smaller than the HTML version.
While there’s no set percentage, you can safely assume that any website optimized for speed has significantly adopted this method of compressing CSS. Using a service like Compress CSS automatically does all the heavy lifting for you. So all you need to do is copy and paste your existing style sheet into the generated archive, and you’re good to go.
GZIP/DEFLATE Content DELIVERY
If you’re reading this, you’re probably already familiar with the basics of the HTTP protocol. Essentially, HTTP is the protocol that allows for the transfer of information between a web server and a web browser.
While web servers can compress content before sending it to your browser, it’s best to let your browser do its job and decompress the content as soon as it’s received. Doing this can help improve the overall performance of your site.
HTTP/2.0 is an update to the HTTP protocol, which was first introduced in 2015. The HTTP/2.0 protocol aims to make web browsing faster. This is mainly achieved through some specialized HTTP headers, which can be used to compress content. This means that your site will load more quickly than it would with traditional HTTP.
Most websites still use HTTP 1.1 because, despite its flaws, it’s still the most popular protocol available today. Luckily, support for HTTP/2.0 is now available in virtually all modern browsers. So unless you have a specific reason not to, you should start seeing performance improvements as soon as you make the switch.
Caching is a method of storing previously downloaded web content so that it can be served rapidly to users who visit the site again. This is mainly achieved through a web server’s caching capabilities. For example, the content might be stored in an Apache or Nginx server’s cache for later use. Doing this can increase your site’s performance tremendously, especially if you want to keep your audience coming back for more.
A Web Application Firewall (WAF)
A WAF is a firewall that is specifically designed for use with websites and blogs. A WAF can help protect your site from hackers and cyber-criminals who want to harm you. It can also protect your site from overuse, which might otherwise bog down your site’s performance. A WAF can also be used to block network traffic based on the country in which a user is or the country in which the website is hosted. This might be useful if you’re worried about your site being targeted by cyber-criminals or geo-political hackers.
Your SEO Speed Matters
If your website’s primary function is as a tool for generating sales, chances are you’re already taking measures to boost its SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
But maybe you need to achieve the results you’re after. Chances are your SEO techniques aren’t cutting it, and you’re wondering if there’s a way to increase your website’s SEO speed.
SEO speed is the time it takes for a search engine to rank a website highly in its results for a given query. While there is no specific formula to determine SEO speed, experts agree that speeding up your site’s SEO will dramatically improve its performance in organic search.