Site speed is one of the factors that determine whether you get a good ranking in Google. While site speed is not the most important ranking factor, its importance seems to be growing. A slow website will also result in a slower crawling rate, so Google indexes pages on your site at a slower rate. New posts will take longer to show up in the search results. Making your website faster can, therefore, lead to getting organic traffic for new posts faster and to better rankings. Google has even come out saying that page speed is a ranking factor.
Moreover, a fast website will give a much better user experience than a slow one. Research has shown time and again that people don’t buy as much from slower sites and don’t read as much on slower sites. That in itself should be enough reason to make sure the speed of your blog is as good as can be.
Site speed tools
When we’re analyzing the SEO of a website we always check the site speed that website. Obviously, site speed is different when checking it from different locations. This is just one reason why speed tools do not always provide the same results. That’s why we use all these tools when testing a site (and do not rely on just one):
Google Page Speed Insights splits mobile and desktop, Pingdom Tools allows for multiple locations and GTmetrix combines several checks nicely. WebPageTest has a few main checks it grades in an easy to understand manner. Google Lighthouse is built into Chrome and was originally meant to assess Progressive Web Apps. It, however, gives great insights into the page speed and user experience of your mobile site, based on real-world tests. We would recommend you use all of these tools to check your site speed. Combined they give a complete overview of the site speed of your site.
If you want to test your site speed, you can enter the URL of your website in these tests. They review the speed of your site and give a list of options on how to improve upon your site speed. Both Google and GTmetrix have reasonably good, though slightly techy, explanations on the various aspects that you can improve upon. The other tools show somewhat less explanation and are a bit harder to interpret.
When reviewing these suggestions, it’s important to take note of whether your site is using HTTP/2 or not. If so, some of these tests might not apply completely to your site. Our recent article on that topic should help you figure out which suggestions you can safely ignore.
Plugins for site speed
Installing a caching plugin could really speed up your site if your hosting doesn’t already provide for caching. WP Super Cache does what it says on the tin: it caches your site. It does that well, without too many bells and whistles. WP Rocket is better, they offer a solution to speed up your site without much hassle and without the risks of breaking things. WP Rocket is a paid plugin though, and WP Super Cache is free.
AMP, short for Accelerated Mobile Pages, is another effort by Google to increase the speed of the web. Read more about it in our post about setting up your WordPress site for AMP.
Next to installing a caching plugin, you can do several other things to speed up your site. Choosing a different hosting party, using a CDN and/or minifying your images could do wonders for your site speed. We’ll come back to you in a few weeks with a post about site speed solutions and talk you through the most important ones.