Google Hates Slow Sites
August 11, 2020 - By Jamie Trueblood
Here’s how to speed yours up
Google wants to present searchers with a fast internet. As such, sites that take too much time to load get penalized and slip their way down the SERPs.
Speed (along with 200ish other criteria) wins.
So what if your site is slow? First, confirm.
Test your site’s speed
There are plenty of free tools available that can help you gauge your site’s speed performance. Try GTMetrix, Pingdom or Google’s very own PageSpeed Insights. In reality, you should use multiple speed testers to ensure you’re getting a good data set. These tools will present benchmarks to help you figure out where your site’s speed stands against the rest of the internet. Don’t panic if your grades aren’t that good!
Let’s talk images
Most of the speed test tools will provide you with a laundry list of issues and recommendations. Some will be self-explanatory, others confusing. At the top of most lists will be oversized images. High resolution images take time to load. So too do images with large dimensions. Fortunately, there’s compression. You can drastically reduce the file size of your images without compromising visual quality. One of our favorite tools is TinyPNG. Simply upload your bloated images (up to 5MB each) and viola! You’ll see file reductions by 60, 70, even 90 percent. “TinyPNG uses smart lossy compression techniques to reduce the file size of your PNG files. By selectively decreasing the number of colors in the image, fewer bytes are required to store the data. The effect is nearly invisible but it makes a very large difference in file size!”
Review your plugins
Plugins make the WordPress world go ‘round. They’re great. That said, they can also slow sites down, especially if they’re used en masse. Review your plugins. Make sure you update to the most current versions of those that are mission critical to your site. Then evaluate which ones might not be necessary anymore. For example, if you had a plugin that powered a Facebook feed and that plugin has since been put out of service, deactivate and delete it. Also consider pulling out all the individual analytics plugins and rely solely on Google Analytics.
Consider some plugins
We know. We just suggested removing aged or unnecessary plugins and are now suggesting you add some. It’s all about being selective. There are plugins designed specifically to improve site speed. WPRocket, for example, improves page caching, which “creates an ultra-fast load time, essential for improving Search Engine Optimization and increasing conversions.” It also has a cool feature that only loads images once a user scrolls down to them. Neat.
Gifs are great for communicating complex ideas in simple ways. But if they’re too long (aka, big), they can drastically slow down a page’s load time. Review any gifs you might be using and explore ways to trim, revise or otherwise reduce their file sizes. One of our favorite gif editors is ezgif.com. It feels bare bones, but it’s a great little editor!
Consider a CDN
Does your business operate in a wide range of global markets? A content distribution network (CDN) can help your site serve quickly, across geographies. Basically, a CDN stores copies of your site on geographically disparate servers so that local experiences are faster and more reliable.
Speed matters to everyone, not just Google
A slow loading site is the fastest way to lose a potential customer. So while doing all you can to appease the almighty Google, know that your efforts will be doubly worth it.