Optimizing the performance and the loading speed of your website

Website performance

Website performance shows how fast the website's pages are loaded and, consequently, how much time it takes until a user (web surfer or robot) sees the entire page (text and images).

For a better understanding of how a website's performance works, we must look closely at what happens when a user lands on a website page:

  • in his browser, the user clicks on "http://www.yakaferci.com/"
  • the browser sends a HTTP request(known as GET) to the web server that hosts "www.yakaferci.com". It basically asks for the content present on the URL "http:www.yakaferci.com/"
  • when it receives the request, the server hosting www.yakaferci.com creates an HTML response and sends it back to the browser. This response can be a physical file that's very easy to send or it can be a more complex page with dynamic data extracted from a data base.
  • The navigator is now going to analyse the HTML page sent by the web server. More precisely, it's going to list all the elements required for the page to display correctly (images, CSS, javascript...)
  • the navigator is then going to simultaneously send multiple requests to the web server, asking to download all the above mentioned elements.
  • the web server answers by sending the requested content to the browser. Generally, these are static files, meaning they are not dynamically generated.
  • the browser has now recuperated the HTML code and all the other elements. Based on these, it's going to create the visual part of the page (text blocks, images...)
  • Finally, if the web page requires the execution of a Javascript on load, the browser is going to run the script. On modern websites, Javascript is used more often because it allows you to add new functionalities and make the pages more dynamic. Therefore, this step is not to be disregarded.
  • the visitor can now read the content of the desired page.

The page speed is the amount of time spent in all of these steps put together

The average page loading

Here are the trends for the website page speed. This data will allow you to see how your website performs overall:

  • 25% of websites load in approximately 5 seconds.
  • 50% of websites load in approximately 2,9 seconds
  • 75% of websites load in approximately 1,7 seconds
  • 94 % of websites load in approximately 0,8 seconds.

For determining the performance of your website or your competitors' website, you can use the Yakaferci analysis tool.

A free tool for analyzing the speed of your website's pages

Analyze your web pages with our free SEO Page Analyzer :

To start the Yakaferci analysis, simply enter the URL of the page in the area above and click the Analyze button. You will then have access to different sections of the report, especially those on performance.

Why is a website's performance so important for SEO?

Web performance is among the top factors that influence SEO

Website performance, an official ranking factor

Google has publicly stated more than once that a website's performance is important for ranking in Google's search results.

In order to help webmasters to optimize the performance of their web pages, in 2009, Google has developed PageSpeed, a tool that analyzes the loading speed of pages.

In early 2010, Matt Cutts, the official Google Voice on SEO, announced that the site's performance, and therefore the loading speed were taken into account for SEO.

In April 2010, Google has also formalized on its blog the importance of the performance of websites.

Optimizing the performance of the site for a better browsing experience

Furthermore, to define the ranking of a website in its search results, Google also takes into account the behaviour of visitors.

So, if a site is loading very slowly, the behavioral metrics (bounce rate, average time spent on site and the number of pages visited) will be impacted. This will tell the search engines that your site is finally not relevant to search queries.

Optimizing the performance of your website implies optimizing the behavioral metrics of web users.

Optimizing the performance of the site for better indexing

Poor performance, that is to say, a slow charging speed, influences the total number of indexed pages.

Actually, as long as the robots have billions of pages to index every day, they do not have time to « lose » on sites that are too slow - they need to optimize their own work. And if they do not crawl the entire site, too bad for it.

And a complete indexing of your site by search engines is, of course, essential.

Conversely, a website with good performance, that is to say with a fast load time, will be crawled and indexed in its entirety. This will improve its ranking in search results, because the engines have all the information to interpret the site.

Optimizing the loading speed of a site and thus its performance means improving behavioural metrics and the number of pages that search engines index and crawl.

Optimizing site performance for mobiles

With an increasing number of people using smartphones to access the internet, smartphones have become an important traffic source for websites. Yet, on a smartphone, the visitor usually has a smaller bandwidth than at home or at office (3G, 4G ...) bandwidth. Therefore it is essential in these circumstances that web pages are as light as possible so they can be displayed quickly on mobile.

Google increasingly optimizes its algorithms for mobile and tablets, so this last point is particularly important.

How does website performance optimize the conversion rate?

Many studies have shown that the slower a website is, the less conversions it will have.

Walmart case study

Walmart noticed a delay in the loading of its product pages.

A study on the impact of the performance showed that the overall conversion rate of the site was linked to the loading speed of pages.

It appears that the conversion rate decreases as the loading time increases.

Following the website optimization (see the list of actions bellow), Walmart found the following benefits:

  • an increase of 2% per second reclaimed from the loading speed of the website
  • 1% increase in sales for every 100 ms reduced on the loading time of the site
  • Improved SEO on the website's landing pages
  • A decrease of the bounce rate.

How to optimize the performance of a website?

Here are some tips for optimizing the loading time of your pages and thus the overall performance of your website:

  • reduce the number of additional elements (images, css, javascript ...), which require the browser to send a dedicated HTTP request for each item.
  • make sure your web server supports gzip compression and HTTP connections with keep-alive (look at the HTTP response from the server with a tool like Yakaferci)
  • reduce the weight (the size in bytes) of resources that are sent to browsers. This applies to images which can initially be very heavy, but also to HTML, javascript, CSS etc ...
  • use server-side cache systems that remember the content of pages that does not change much. It is a widely used and effective technique to improve performance but it requires technical know-how.
  • choose a quality hosting (good bandwidth, powerful servers and memory. It is an expensive, but fast and efficient way to hide the problems of a site with poor structural performance.
  • Use javascript sparingly as its execution may weight heavy on pages if poorly mastered (too many Ajax requests, too many calculations ...)
  • improve the loading time of pages by compiling all your CSS in one external file and placing it once in the <head>. This way, the CSS will be downloaded only once and the website will load faster.
  • minimize as much as possible the number of redirects made on your site. A 301 redirect creates a new HTTP request. By displaying a new URL you slow the loading time of your website.
  • you can develop more sophisticated techniques for loading resources asynchronously. The visitor thinks that the page is loaded completely because the most visible blocks appear, while the browser continues to load the last elements in the background.

This theoretical optimization list is far from being exhaustive. As with any optimization work, we must first identify the places where time is wasted unnecessarily and then find the appropriate solutions. It is not always how we think it is.