web page speed

How To Increase Google Ranking and Lower Your Bounce Rates By Increasing Your Website Speed

Website speed is a ranking factor, for Google. It’s official, Google has confirmed it! So, if you’re not paying attention to how fast your website is, then you’re completely ignoring something that can easily help your Google rankings! In this episode we dig into what can cause your website to slow down, how to test the speed of your website, how to identify exactly how long each element of your website takes to load, and best practices you can implement to maintain a fast website today, as well as into the future.

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YOU’LL LEARN

  • Google has come out and said that your website speed is a ranking factor for your website
  • In July of 2018 Google launched what has been called the “speed update” to it’s algorithm
  • John Muller (of Google) has said that you should target 2-3 seconds for page load time, ideally
  • A website that loads faster will have a lower bounce-rate, which impacts your rankings
  • Website loading times are even more important on mobile devices
  • In 2009 0.7% of all web traffic was on mobile, and in 2017 over 50.3% of all web traffic was on mobile
  • There are free tools online to help test your page loading speeds
  • Use free online tools to help see what is loading on your website and how long things take to load individually
  • Be sure to purge any unused plugins, scripts, or addons that are on your website but are no longer needed
  • Keep your CMS platform (like WordPress) and your plugins or addons up to date with the latest releases
  • Where you host your website can make an impact on the speed of your website
  • Taking advantage of browser caching can help your website load faster
  • You can optimize the photos and images on your website to make their file sizes smaller to load faster

Here is  the transcription from Episode 31 How To Increase Google Ranking and Lower Your Bounce Rates By Increasing Your Website Speed;

Jesse: Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics. Jesse Dolan here with Bob Brennan.

Bob: Howdy.

Jesse: This week we’re gonna be talking about site speed. How to speed up your website, why
it’s important to have a fast website, and kind of just running through that gamut.
First things first, why are we gonna talk about it? Well, Google said it’s important, and
that it’s actually a ranking factor now. In July of 2018 they came out and they launched
what’s been called the site speed algorithm, or the speed update.

Doesn’t really impact you if you already have a fast website, but if you don’t have a fast
website, or you got a website that’s really slow, this is definitely an episode you’re
gonna want to tune into, and take some of these action points here.

Google came out and said, “This is important and you’re not gonna rank if your site is
slow.” We’re gonna break that down, talk about where those are important, the aspects
of that that are important, how you can test your website, and then some remedies that
you can do on your own here to take some action.

First things first: Why is a fast website important? A-1, number one, bottom line, Google
said so.

Bob: That’s it, right?

Jesse: We’re trying to rank in the Google search engine, so we really follow the guidelines.
When they come out and they say something blatantly, like, “This is a ranking factor for
your website,” you got to sit up and take note of that. They said that, so, A-1, that’s the
most important reason, that’s the only reason you really need to know.

Aside from that, there are some other important reasons that are worthy of noting. The
slower your website the bigger the impact for all of these. Back in 2016, John Mueller,
kind of the search liaison between Google and the search engine world, kind of gave a
target of two to three seconds for load time, which is pretty quick, and not unattainable
by anybody.

But that’s kind of if you really want to be … top-ranking, I shouldn’t say that. If you want
to be able to fast-track it, no pun intended, and secure your confidence that you have a
fast website, you’re gonna be loading that three seconds or less, that’s kind of the
golden number there. Not impossible but definitely probably pretty tricky for most of us
out there to be able to get there, especially if you have a lot of images, or text and other
elements on your website.

Another reason aside from Google saying so, and John Mueller’s feedback that is
important is bounce rates. Your bounce rate is a very important part in your ranking,
and what Google sees for your website. Just so everybody knows what a bounce rate is,
if somebody visits your website, and then they back out, usually quickly, back out after
only viewing that page. They didn’t dive any deeper, they didn’t take any action, they
didn’t scroll down the page, click around, do things like that. If you have a slow-loading
website, people aren’t gonna wait for it to load, right?

Bob: Right.

Jesse: Or they’re gonna have that initial really kind of bad taste in their mouth and not stick
around and really digest the rest of your content. You only get one chance to make a
first impression, as they say. If that first impression is a slow-loading website, they’re
kind of getting turned off on your site, or, again, worse, you’re getting a bounce on that.
That’s important to know, especially on mobile. I got a stat here from statista.com. In
2009, .7 of web traffic was on mobile, right? Now, 2009 seems a long time ago, but also
not-

Bob: No, not really.

Jesse: You know, just nine years ago.

Bob: Nah, nine years.

Jesse: .7, that’s less than 1% of all web traffic. In 2017, it was 50.3, so over half of the traffic in
about 10 years.

Bob: I think that’s low.

Jesse: Right, yeah. Depending on industries and niches, too, especially-

Bob: Yeah, depending on how its measured and everything, right?

Jesse: Right, and that’s worldwide, too, right? That’s not just here in the U.S.-

Bob: Oh, I suppose.

Jesse: Yeah. A fast website it important, especially if you’re bringing this in regards to the
mobile, right?

Bob: Yeah.

Jesse: We’re even less patient on mobile. Sometimes our speeds are even slower on mobile for
downloading, for our data plans, or service coverage, so that even kind of compounds it.
If over half the traffic is on mobile, if your website is slow, and we’re impatient on our
mobile devices, it’s just a bad mix. Even if you’re second, third, or fourth ranking in
Google, for some reason the fastest, I mean, you’re gonna get some conversions off
that. You’re gonna get some customers.

It’s a ranking factor, it’s a usability factor, and a patience factor for end-users. There’s
really no reason to not try to have as fast a website as you can. What do you do? First
thing just like anything else, you got to metric this, you got to get a baseline, see where
you’re at so you can know what your benchmark is, right?

Couple cool tools that we use, one is, of course, our own SEO audit tool. It gives you not
hardcore page speed insights, but it does kind of give you a grade and lets you know
some of the good and the bad on that. Check that out: intrycks.com, go look on the free
SEO audit button up on the top-right corner.

Another tool put out by Google, that’s the Google PageSpeed Insights. I’ll put a link to
that in the show notes. That’s actually gonna give you feedback straight from Google.
We’ve talked about it in past episodes: what your score is, what your speed is. They’ll
tell you a list of recommendations on what to do to speed your site up unique to your
website, you know, for issues that they’re finding. Definitely run your site through that,
check that out.

Another really good one is webpagetest.org. This is gonna be … It’s not the sexiest
looking display for what it reads out here for ya. You plug in your domain on there, you
run it through the tool, and it’s gonna tell you everything on your page that loads, and
it’s gonna give what they call like a waterfall report.

Bob: Yep.

Jesse: Where it shows the time, and kind of puts it in a graph for what’s loading, how long does
it take to load, and then, boom, the final number for your total page to load. That’s
pretty important to know. That gets a little technical. That’s pretty important to know,
because it lists you an order, what loads, and how long does it take to load, right?
Maybe you have some kind of java script from some kind of tracking code that you
installed in your website that’s taking a long time to load, maybe you have a certain
image that you didn’t optimize, that’s taking a way, way long time to load. That’s a great
technical term too, a way, way long time to load.

No, but really, it’s a super useful tool. There’s other ones out there, too. This is just what
we rely on, because it can tell you with that pinpoint sniper rifle-type precision on
exactly what is slowing your page down here, and hopefully you can take some action to
correct it.

Bob: A couple quick questions. One would be, let’s say there’s 20 basic things to help get your
site to rank and perform well in Google. Where do you have the speed of the site? I
mean, how important is it in your world?

Jesse: Yeah, I would say, without ranking all of them, I’d say it’s in the top five-

Bob: Okay.

Jesse: Maybe in the top three, especially because Google says it’s a ranking factor. You know
what I mean?

Bob: Right.

Jesse: There’s lots of things we all speculate on, this is important for ranking, having a lot of
back links, or all these citations, and just all this other stuff. It’s pretty rare that Google
comes out and says, “This is something that’s important for ranking,” and then to have
somebody like John Mueller say, “Here’s a target, an actual benchmark you can kind of
shoot for, for optimization.” He doesn’t say it to rank good, right? But he says, “Here’s
what you should shoot for.”

Bob: Right.

Jesse: With all that combined, for sure top five, more than likely top three.

Bob: Okay, then the other question is, a lot of plug-ins you put in for these websites for
different things, pop-ups, forms, they do incredible things, right?

Jesse: Yep.

Bob: With the tools that you mentioned in your … Let’s say you’re adding, continually adding
different plug-ins on there, is there a strategy there where you add a plug-in, let it
populate for a while, or whatever it needs to do, and then do a before and after with
that test?

Jesse: Yeah.

 

Jesse: Yeah, a great point. Plug-ins are a huge, huge part of this. Plug-ins, specifically we’re
talking here for WordPress.

Bob: Yep.

Jesse: Kind of more broadly if you’re not using a WordPress site. Pretty much any content
management, like, Wix, or things like that is gonna have little add-ons or modules. If
you’re just kind of doing a manual coding website, same thing here, like, different
snippets or scripts that you’re “plugging in” or installing. Particularly here we’re gonna
be talking about WordPress plug-ins, but you can apply the same concepts more
broadly.

Number one, you should be able to see how some of these load running it through the
webpagetest.org, waterfall report, and see if anything’s giving you trouble. Additionally,
to that though, one thing to look at for your plug-ins is, what are some plug-ins you’re
not using anymore?

Plug-ins are kind of like apps on your phone, right? Sometimes you’ll download them,
maybe you want a certain function, you might throw two or three of them on there, pick
the best one, and then use that going forward.

Bob: Yeah.

Jesse: You might have some you can just delete, because you chose other options, right?

Bob: Or it can be you’re constantly deleting your kids’ apps or games.

Jesse: Right?

Bob: Right.

Jesse: Whole ‘nother topic there-

Bob: Sure.

Jesse: I understand exactly what you’re talking about there. That’s an easy one right there is
just deleting the obsolete plug-ins that you don’t need anymore, right?

All on that same vein, check your plug-in. Well, first, let me kind of back up a little bit to
get to this point, you’re gonna want to make sure you’re frequently updating
WordPress. WordPress provides continual updates, sometimes for security, sometimes
for optimization, what have you … speed, in this case.

Always update WordPress, and in that same vein, make sure your plug-ins are updated.
Sometimes you can set that for auto-update, depending on your hosting platform or
what you’re doing, or at least jump in there once a month yourself, and check what
needs to be updated.

Then further kind of down that rabbit hole is, let’s say if your plug-in hasn’t had an
update in maybe six months, three months, whatever, check and see if the developer is
maintaining this thing still, right?

Bob: Right.

Jesse: You may be using a plug-in in your website that hasn’t been updated in three years.
That’s not gonna be taking advantage of the most recent WordPress updates, some of
the architecture, security, speed-type issues, performance upgrades.

I would make sure a plug-in that I’m using, let’s say I’ve determined it to be useful and I
want to keep it, you’re gonna want to make sure that thing is being developed and
updated by the developer to keep getting optimized.

Now, one more spot kind of for plug-ins on the same topic here, is to look for
alternatives. If you’ve been using a certain plug-in for a while, there’s probably
somebody else that’s developed one. Maybe they have some new architecture or a new
way of going about it that is faster.

Bob: Right.

Jesse: Here we’re talking about page speed, if there’s functionality, or other things you’re tied
into that keep you in a plug-in, then fine, but we’re talking here if you’re just trying to
get faster.

If you can switch to a different plug-in to provide a certain function, you test them sideby-side, see which one’s faster and things like that. You can have too many plug-ins that
can slow your site down-

Bob: Yeah, like, is there a balance, or is it just depending on … Because we can do a whole
different show on plug-ins at some point.

Jesse: Yep, and we have a couple loaded up for that, for some topics there. I wouldn’t say
there’s a certain balance or a certain number, if you’re trying … quantify, like, 18 or
more plug-ins, because it depends on the actual plug-in itself.

Bob: Okay.

Jesse: How “heavy” it is for the amount of code and loading time. It’s really gonna be your
speed at the end of the day, depending on how complicated or how slow to load some
of your plug-ins are. Maybe you can only have three or four.

If they’re all super light and not very intrusive, maybe you can have 20. It’s just, again,
running it through the page tests-

Bob: Sure.

Jesse: And just seeing how it loads, is kind of where the answer is for that, but it’s definitely an
area you want to look at. Get rid of the plug-ins you don’t need, make sure everything’s
continually updated, make sure the plug-ins that you’re utilizing still have some support
behind them, and always be on the lookout for new plug-ins to replace one that you
may be thinking is lagging, and don’t be afraid to test it, and continually upgrading.
Because plug-ins are definitely an area that can drastically slow your website down. It’s
super easy to load plug-ins onto your website, and, “look at this new feature, look at this
new widget, this is super cool, my website does all these things,” and you can get it
loaded up really quick. Great topic to bring up, that’s the first spot I’d look for speeding
up my website is definitely attacking the plug-ins.

Let’s get a couple more areas here. Another one is actually where you’re hosting your
website. We recommend SiteGround, we mentioned that in a few episodes now.
Actually, if you want to get engaged with SiteGround for their optimized WordPress
hosting, go to intrycks.com/siteground. That’s S-I-T-E-G-R-O-U-N-D, and we can hook
you up there.

The guys at SiteGround and gals at SiteGround do a really good job providing optimized
WordPress hosting for being fast. You could go out to Google … Every body listening, if
you want to know and prove this out, just Google “fast WordPress hosting,” or “fastest
WordPress hosting.” See what other people are saying, different polls and surveys,
you’re gonna find SiteGround, if not number one in most of these, they’re gonna be in
the top two or three. They’re just kind of the best there is out there, in my opinion at
least.

Bob: We switched to them for a couple reasons, the least of which was their customer
support-

Jesse: Yep!

Bob: And their … was it SSL-

Jesse: Their security, their support, yeah. They’re just rock stars through and through. They
know what it takes to produce good hosting formats-

Bob: Right.

Jesse: Good customer service, and in this context, fast websites. They’re not gonna be the
problem if your website’s slow.

Bob: Right, and we came from an econo … let’s call it an econo host, pretty good price, or
very low price, but all it took was one situation. It wasn’t really their fault, I think we got
hacked, it was probably four years ago we got hacked. It took forever to get to the
bottom of it. Part of it was the fact that they just didn’t respond, or no response so to
speak, and that was it.

That probably costed us anywhere from $4,000 to $20,000, because the site was
actually ready to be acquired by … somebody, type of a deal that we built. At any rate, I
can’t stress enough having a good host. Maybe you skimp on it initially if you’re really
tight with money, just to get by with maybe an econo host that has the basic feature.
But as soon as you can afford this company I’d say definitely switch over.

Jesse: On that topic too, Bob, they’re not super expensive even. Their startup program … I’m
sorry, their startup plan for WordPress hosting is $3.95 month. That’s their initial trial
period. It’s $11.95 after that rate, so $12 a month. They go up higher up into the $30 per
month range, so that gets a little more expensive on the hosting end of things compared
to some other programs, but, again, you guys are gonna love the speed, you’re gonna
love the support. I can’t say enough good things about these guys.

Again, just kind of rolling back, how to speed up your website if you’re not using
SiteGround, check them out. We definitely recommend them for all the reasons Bob
was talking about, but purely for this episode, on the topic of speed, they’re the best.
Another thing you can do is browser caching, which essentially is helping your pages
load faster in the web browser. There’s lots of plug-ins for that, Site Ground has some
plug-ins for that, too. We don’t have any horse in the race on that one. There’s … I think
it’s WP Rocket is a super popular one out there. Essentially, what that’s gonna do is just
kind of not make your website load every image, on every page, every time for the
customers or the end-users. Really speeds it up quite a bit.

There’s some nuances, some different browser caching you can do with maybe a
compression or other stuff, too. But just Google browser caching, or search for some
plug-ins for browser caching, or, again, use WP Rocket if you have nothing else for
WordPress.

CloudFlare is something else we use ourselves and recommend. It’s a content-delivery
network. This is a whole ‘nother episode, too, to really … “What the heck is this and
what does it do?” But it, in the same way, helps you … How would you say? Disperse
your website out there across the country to different ISPs … that’s actually not the right
technical term … different servers out there across the US to balance the load, this
protects against all kinds of security threats, they kind of provide an in-between,
between your website host and the end-user.

You’re gonna have a lot of speed benefits out of that, particularly, CloudFlare itself has a
lot of speed settings and tweaks that you can do in there to really speed things up.
That’s something that we recommend to everybody, and they actually have free plans.
You don’t even have to pay for it-

Bob: Oh really?

Jesse: Yeah. You can upgrade and get more horsepower, if you will, but if nothing else you can
check out their free plans. It’s gonna help your security and it’s gonna help your speed. I
highly recommend that.

Another thing you can do is your images. Along with plug-ins being right up there with a
big culprit for slowing your website down is your images. If you just go save an image,
maybe take a picture off your camera, save it, and then just upload it to your website.
It’s gonna be a really big image, right? Maybe a couple megabytes.

If you’re not optimizing that, compressing that, using like a .PNG, image file, you’re
really not taking advantage of the tools that are out there, and that’s gonna take a long
time to load on your website.

Bob: Sure.

Jesse: You’re gonna want to optimize your images, reduce the file sizes. By default, when you
load an image into WordPress it might kind of resize it, but it’s still gonna reference the
original size, and it really slows things down.

If you guys have any questions on that to get a little more technical, let us know.
intrycks.com/show, reach out to us, and we’re happy to help point you in the direction
on some tools to do that. I’ll put a link in the show notes to actually do some guides on
that, come to think of it.

That’s about it. If you have videos, make sure they don’t auto play. Just anything that’s
kind of using bandwidth, or running on your website. Some websites you might visit
they have music that plays in the background automatically, right?

Bob: Right.

Jesse: …or just different effects. Any of that kind of stuff has to load, and then engage, and
then start playing or displaying, it’s gonna slow your website down, and you just got to
think, “Is it necessary or not?” Trying to hit that three second mark for loading is pretty
darn critical.

Some of these visual or audio enhancements against what your speed is, and what’s
gonna get you more customers. A page that loads within that three seconds, or some
kind of flashy graphic. A lot of times with our egos or what our brands are we think it
needs to be super flashy and everything else.

People can click a button to hit play, right? Or it will load a certain thing, you know?

Bob: Yeah, and depending on the complexity of your business, and your site, most of who we
direct this stuff to is to local services.

Jesse: Local services. Yep.

Bob: You know, the plumber, the baker, the candlestick maker, whatever the deal is.

Jesse: Yep.

Bob: And there’s gonna be more sophisticated services like realtors, and architects, and stuff
that, they’re listening to this podcast that, let’s face it, their site’s gonna be a little more
sophisticated.

Jesse: Yep.

Bob: But embedding a video versus some other redirect on the video, I mean, can you speak
to that at all?

Jesse: Yeah, I don’t think there’s a problem with any of that, it’s more like if it was auto
playing, right?

Bob: Okay, got it.

Jesse: It’s starting to consume that bandwidth and things like that. Again, if you go to the
webpagetest.org it’s gonna tell you what’s loading and what order. You know, is that
video starting to play before the rest of your website has completely loaded?

Bob: Yeah.

Jesse: That’s just gonna slow things down, so when in doubt run it through that, do your
Google Page Insights … I’m sorry, Google PageSpeed Insights, and those … kind of take
both of those as gospel for what’s loading, and how fast it is, and just try to keep
optimizing it.

Again, you should say, if nothing else, we can lend a hand, too. If you want us to take a
look at something, get deeper advice on your exact website, intrycks.com/show, reach
out to us, we’re happy to help. Lots of people do that. Each week we have some people
reaching out to us with questions, or looking for feedback, we’re here to help you guys
out.

With that let’s get into our five-star review of the week here. This week we have a great
five-star review from SandrasMac, it’s a great five-star review. It says: “Great
stuff!” Pretty straightforward.

Bob: Wow! Laying the bottom line down right there, boom!

Jesse: Hard to disagree with that one. We appreciate that. Everybody else we’d love to get a
review from you, too. Not only makes us feel great, keeps us motivated and positive,
lets us know we’re on the right track, and that we’re helping you guys out.

Go to intrycks.com/itunes. It’ll bring you to iTunes, tell you what you need to know to
get a review there … I’m sorry, to leave a review there, and we just really appreciate it.
All right, guys. Have a great week. Thanks.

Bob: Thanks.

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