There are many ways to improve your website, and one of these includes optimising your page load speed to make sure that users get the best possible experience when browsing your site.
Page load speed is the average time it takes for a web page to load for the user. It is often calculated from when the first click occurs to when the page is fully loaded.
Another variation of page load speed is the Time to First Byte (TTFB), which is the time between the browser requesting a page and when it receives the first byte of information from the server.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is another term you may come across when you are looking into page load speed, and this is something Google is taking into account more as one of its Core Web Vitals. This is the time between the user request and when the main content (largest content) is loaded on the screen and the user can interact with the web page.
Whichever way you define or calculate it, if a web page loads too slowly, a user may become frustrated and leave without visiting it, which is not good for your website.
Google considers page load speed as a ranking factor because it impacts the user experience. They want your website to be fast enough for visitors and will encourage you to make changes so that this is the case.
In fact, Google Search Console now has reports for your Core Web Vitals which are very focused on the user experience on specific web pages and includes LCP mentioned above.
They suggest that 2.5s or less is good, between 4 seconds and 2.5 seconds needs improvement, and more than 4 seconds is a poor score for loading the largest element of a web page.
You can check your website’s optimisation using the Google PageSpeed Insights tool and this will give you a score.
It will also give you some insights on what to improve – elements that we explore in more detail below.
To improve page load speed, you need to make an effort to ‘declutter’ your key web pages by doing the following.
It’s important to have high-quality images on your webpage to enhance your content, but you don’t want those images to slow loading times down.
If you identify large image files that can be reduced, this is one of the easiest ways to improve page load speed!
Minification is the process of minimising code and markup in your web pages and script files by removing all unnecessary characters. You can use this process to optimise the code on your web pages and improve page load speed.
When one page redirects to another, there is additional time added to wait for the request to be processed. If many webpages on your websites have redirect rules in place, or one of your webpages is involved in a redirect chain (with multiple redirects specified), this will slow your website down. Reducing these redirects and redirect chains will improve page load speed!
According to the PageSpeed Insights tool, “Before the browser can render a page it has to build the DOM tree by parsing the HTML markup. During this process, whenever the parser encounters a script it has to stop and execute it before it can continue parsing the HTML”.
“In the case of an external script, the parser is also forced to wait for the resource to download, which may incur one or more network roundtrips and delay the time to first render of the page”.
For example, if your web page uses a third-party font, rather than a system font, this tends to interfere with the processing and rendering of a page.
If you can identify and reduce these render-blocking resources, you should be able to improve your page load speed.
Server response time measures how long it takes to load the necessary HTML to begin rendering the page from your server. Google recommends that you should reduce your server response time to under 200ms.
Using reliable and fast web hosting is key to making sure you have a good server response time, which in turn allows your web pages to load quickly.
You can also use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) which is a geographically distributed network of proxy servers and their data centres that aims to speed up the delivery of web content by bringing it closer to the end user.
These are the main ways to improve your page load speed and make sure users land on your website promptly. An SEO specialist will be able to audit your site regularly and help you identify any areas where page load speed could be optimised, as well as work with your web developer to improve page load speed!