It has been a few years now since Google had announced that page speed would be a ranking factor in desktop searches – just last year Google completed the circle and mobile page speed now impacts mobile searches. Now it seems that Google is also looking to help the user by applying a badge or identification on certain sites that load slowly in Chrome! To see some examples of this notification read https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/11/20959865/google-chrome-slow-sites-badge-system-chrome-dev-summit-2019 and/or https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-chrome-speed-badges/335261/ (there is also the official announcement: https://blog.chromium.org/2019/11/moving-towards-faster-web.html) for more details.
While this is currently labeled as ‘experimental’ as it’s a work in progress and there are a bunch of factors that play into site speed, it’s not crazy to think this may go from a test to reality in the next few years.
What does that mean for my Website?
Any website could be a victim of slow loading times. Multiple factors work to render a website. Tons of widgets to do various actions, a parent theme with much of it leaning into the visual effects and relying on multiple scripts, more than one Google script added (fonts, analytics, tags, and more… oh my), external media, imagery that isn’t resized or optimized, and even where your site is hosted all play a factor!
Your website may cater to a different audience, so really it starts with the question of if mobile matters to you and your company. While mobile rendering is a must at this stage, maybe the effect on your traffic isn’t hindered by a slow loading site on 3G. To be honest, most sites likely load slow due to the factors described above!
I want to speed up my website, what now?
There are multiple tests out there to try, all with varying technical wizard speak that can help shed light on what could be improved. We suggest requesting a health check for your site. This way, you can get the benefit of not only how to possibly speed up your site, but an honest evaluation of other areas that may be lacking (such as content, brand consistency, or features that have stopped working).
Through a health check usually, we get the question are there areas that can be sped up given the existing hosting vendor and environment, using the current/existing theme in place, and/or plug-ins that could be removed to help improve the speed of the site? Unfortunately, if your website is built on WordPress – there may be a high chance that a new theme is needed to improve upon these issues or even resolve others.
This is because many themes come with a bunch of ‘junk’ (for lack of a better term), that loads various elements on each and every page, even if it isn’t needed or used! The reliance on these has created some really neat looking pages – but may cause them to be incredibly slow as sections animate in, buttons disappear and reappear, or there are multiple sliders on a page… please don’t get me started on sliders!
Seriously, if you are using a slider (especially on your home page) have that be the first thing you remove. Tests show they don’t convert, dilute a message you are trying to convey and if they automatically play they take the users control out of their hands! For a humorous and informative look at this topic, visit: http://shouldiuseacarousel.com/ 😊
What about SEO?
There are several key rules that will never fall out of trend in Search Engine Optimization, and the top one is content. Content is what drives most of SEO, from the keywords entered to the descriptions on each page. Every piece of content is a reference to topics within your site.
There are tools available to help beef up your SEO. At 4C, we’ve been utilizing Yoast and training our clients to go through their site and ensure various keywords or phrases, and meta descriptions are used at the very least. Yoast helps in offering an XML Sitemap, options for keyword/keyphrase density, meta description guidance (in character count), and some suggestions for the copy on the page as well (such as readability and internal link checking). In all, it doesn’t do everything for you but does act as a bit of a guide to help in refining content and making it more SEO-friendly.
Content is no joke and its hard work! Add in the fact that a supportive description is needed after creating all that content can be a daunting task. We offer our maintenance services in order to help with this task as it can be a chore to those that are updating and/or editing several pages or websites.