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Up to Speed: Can Your Website Keep Up?

DZone 's Guide to

Up to Speed: Can Your Website Keep Up?

Is your website up to speed?

· Performance Zone ·
Free Resource

Site speed has always been a major concern in SEO circles, with slow sites bumped down in the rankings so that they perform poorly in searches. Unlike a few years ago, though, a slow site no longer lags behind its competitors by a few seconds. Rather, slow sites are typically only a few milliseconds slower because, as a site’s load time increases from 1 second to 3 seconds, bounce rate probabilities increase to 32 percent; by 5 seconds, the probability is 90 percent. In terms of ranking and engagement, even the smallest increase in speed can make a big difference.

Why Speed Matters

Obviously, slow sites have higher bounce rates than their speedier counterparts, but beyond our trained impatience, does speed really matter? According to Google, it’s a key factor, particularly for those using mobile devices, and it certainly plays a role in their ranking program. That’s why the website building company Wix recently introduced a program called Wix Turbo, which provides users with speed-focused optimization services. This includes improved server-side CSS layout optimization and changes to Wix’s data center system. Like other optimization programs, this system is designed to improve users’ Google rankings and put them on that first page.

It’s important to remember that site speed tends to vary depending on whether users are on a desktop or mobile platform, so it's important to cover both platforms. In fact, now that about 60 percent of Google searches take place on mobile, it’s critical that you prioritize mobile performance. Other testing concerns include differences in performance during peak hours and surge performance, geographical differences, and different browsers. These different factors will influence how your site ranks within Google’s algorithm and individual users’ experiences.

How to Build Speed

The good news is that it’s possible to optimize your website’s speed, even without programs like Wix Turbo, but to determine where the problems are, you’ll need to perform a variety of tests. For example, basic load time tests don’t actually tell you much about how your site will perform under high-stress situations. To understand how high site traffic impacts your page, you’ll need to perform load testing.

During load testing, an automated system essentially adds 100 virtual users every 30 seconds until there are 1000 concurrent server hits. This is meant to test how your system performs under high demand; although for more dramatic circumstances, it can be helpful to perform a spike test instead. Spike testing is especially important in the run-up to any type of product launch or big announcement.

Another factor that will slow down your site and also damage its ranking is the failure to optimize images. While images and animations will generally cause a decrease in site speed, image optimization will get you back on user’s radar and ensure that they load more quickly by decreasing file size to the minimum acceptable quality level.

Once you understand what it takes to build a speedy site, you have a chance to make a splash by pushing the limits of performance. After all, as web users, we’re all increasingly impatient. The less you make users wait, the higher your conversion rate will be. Speed equals sales, and that differential becomes more pronounced every day.

Topics:
website speed ,speed ,performance ,load time ,algorithm ,google search ,seo ,load testing

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