Site speed optimization: an ELI5

As websites grow increasingly complex, so too does the strategies Google and other search engines use to rank them.

One in particular - site speed - is becoming a dominant factor in determining how well your website performs.

Fortunately, optimizing your website for speed is a relatively easy process that can have a significant impact on your website’s ranking and user experience.

In this short doc, we'll explore what site speed optimization is, why it matters, and how you can improve the performance of your website (regardless of architecture).

Why site speed?

Put simply: performance. The more enjoyable a website is for the end-user, the more inclined search engines are to rank it higher.

Think of it like self-interest. If a search engine can provide its users with the best possible experience, they’re more likely to keep using that engine. And if you can make your website faster than your competitors, you can edge out their rankings.

Things to look for

First, run a PageSpeed Insights report.

Then, in terms of low-hanging fruit, here's what you should be looking for when optimizing your website's speed:

Images that are too large

Images are the number one easiest-to-fix bottleneck when it comes to website speed.

The reason? They can take an incredible time to load, especially on mobile devices.

To optimize your images, you need to make sure they're the correct size and format for the web. Today, that means .jpeg or .web3, and a maximum of ~700px wide for a standard blog post image. You should also compress them as much as possible without sacrificing quality using tools like https://compressjpeg.com or an alternative.

Excessive HTTP requests

Every time you make a request to a server, it takes time for that server to respond. This is known as latency.

The more requests your website makes, the greater the net latency - and the slower your website will load.

To reduce HTTP requests, minify your scripts and styles, combine files where possible, and lazy load images and other resources. If you're using computationally expensive frameworks, like React, tell your developer to consider using a tool like https://www.preactjs.com instead. Google search for similar alternatives for your particular use case (WordPress, Vue, etc).

Slow server response times

Even if you've optimized everything on your website, a slow server will negate all your efforts.

To combat this, make sure you're using a reputable hosting company with fast servers. Alternatively, consider using a content delivery network (CDN) like Cloudflare to speed up the delivery of your website's assets.

A fast website can improve rankings by as much as 20% - make sure you're giving your website the best chance to succeed by optimizing it for speed.

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