Pagespeed – Reasons for slow page speed

17th February 2020 :: Digital Marketing

The loading speed of a page is influenced by various factors and is important for ranking your site on google. Google now uses Pagespeed as a factor for both Mobile and Desktop search, meaning that a low or negative pagespeed score will impact your ability to rank. 

Overall, the field of page speed optimization is very extensive and encompasses a wide variety of areas that ultimately contribute to a page reacting slowly or quickly.

Some errors that lead to slow page speed are caused by local issues with your site, while others can only be controlled and thus optimized by external adjustments.

How do I find out if my page is affected by slow page speed?

If it is already obvious that the affected page responds very slowly when loading content, then this should also be verified with concrete numbers or statements, so that it does not remain a mere assumption. In addition, your internet line can be excluded as a source of errors.

There are several analysis tools here, some for free, some paid, that gives an overview of how long content takes to be loaded. In addition, some precise tools show a list of the raw loading times, whereby the user is left to the interpretation of the numbers themselves, other tools take the user by the hand and present concrete suggestions for optimization.

Pagespeed Insights – Effective tool for quick page speed control

One of these tools is Pagespeed Insights from Google. This simple tool is self-explanatory to use and easy to use.

After entering the page URL, a short analysis takes place, which shows the result of the page with a comparison to other pages within a period of the last 30 days. Colouring in red, orange and green and a score on a scale of 1-100 make the classification of the page speed immediately clear.

Another advantage of the tool is, in addition to the simple presentation, the fact that it directly provides suggestions for how to possible improvement of the page.

The First Paint (or First Meaningful Paint) is particularly relevant here. This expresses the point in time at which the user notices that the page has finished loading.

Tips for better Pagespeed (a selection):

1. Minimize server response times

One of the first reasons for slow page speed does not only depend on the page itself. Server response times depend on the server that your hosting company provides for your site. This can react slowly if, for example, the server is shared with many websites. It would, therefore, be necessary to determine via the hosting company why the server response times are long / very long and clarify with them what needs to be done for an improvement to occur. Here, a server change, an upgrade of the hosting service or the like may be useful, whereby it should be noted that parts of these services can also lead to higher hosting costs. At Nucleo, we offer both a managed hosting service and website pagespeed optimisation service. 

2. Image optimization

An important point from experience would be the optimization of the image sizes and image formats. The rule here is: keep image files as large as possible and as small as necessary.

For example, if you have a small preview image on your page, this should be according to the size in the frontend, i.e. rather small (because the preview image), but not compressed to such an extent that the general quality of the image suffers.

Correct image optimization is therefore like a tightrope act, in which a right balance must be found between an image that is as compressed as possible but also displays perfect on the front end.

Formats also play a role, although the well-known formats JPEG or PNG can be used here, and SVG can also be used for graphics. Google also recommends using newer formats such as webp as it provides many options for image compression without losing image quality. 

3. Postpone unused CSS

This means postponing CSS content. This can mean that when the page is loaded, only content that is in the visible area of the user is loaded. The missing content is only reloaded when the user scrolls. This procedure can be useful for long pages since the loading times for content are divided here.

4. Eliminate resources that block rendering

In a way, this is a similar approach to postponing CSS content. The goal should be to select the most critical JS and CSS inline so that they have a higher priority when loading. All other so-called non-critical content is postponed and only loaded afterwards.

5.Minimize forwarding on the page

The amount of time that can be saved by this adjustment is usually small, but the adjustment itself is implemented quickly. Avoids redirect chains (this applies not only to the home page but also to subpages). Each redirect takes time, which contributes to the delay of Pagespeed. The more forwarders are set up, the higher the loss of speed.

6. Other options briefly listed

As already mentioned, the opportunities for improvement are diverse and can vary greatly depending on the side. Especially with the adaptation of CSS (compressing, removing superfluous/unused CSS, etc.), you can usually achieve further speed improvements.

Can these adjustments be carried out by the layperson?

All in all, many adjustments are difficult to implement for a non-topic user. However, some points can also be carried out by the layperson. Especially in image optimization, a lot can be achieved by choosing the right format and size, as well as by asking the host if there are problems with the server response speed.

All further adjustments require in-depth knowledge. Even if there are several plugins for some content management systems, which lead to an increase in page speed, whereby various optimizations can then be carried out, only a professional should work here. Many plugins interact with already installed plugins or influence other areas of the CM system.

Thus, the note applies here as for every plugin usage: Make regular backup copies of the page so that you can reset to it in an emergency.

Pagespeed is an important ranking factor

The page speed should not be underestimated as a factor in the rating of the page by the search engine, but should not be overestimated either since it remains well below content as a ranking factor by Google. When optimizing, it should be noted that the page speed value for the mobile site is now used by Google for evaluation, so that the focus should also be here.

Note: Even if page speed does not play the most important role from a search engine perspective, quick loading times are also a quality criterion for users, which should be taken into account. In general, the faster and smoother a page can be loaded, the fewer negative clues there are for the user when they first contact the page.

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