Why Page Speed Matters for Your Blog
Everyone’s talking about how important page speed is for online businesses now. But does it really matter for your blog?
It might, depending on your goals and whether you earn money from your blog.
Aside from opting for a more premium hosting package (think VPS hosting or dedicated hosting) there are other things you can do. Here’s how to know if page load times are a big deal for your blog (hint: the answer is yes), and how to test and improve your blog’s page speed.
4 Ways Faster Page Load Times Help Your Blog
1. Faster pages rank better in the search results.
Page load time is a factor in Google’s desktop search results rankings. In July, Google’s planned Speed Update will add mobile page load times to the factors for mobile search result rankings. Google’s Webmaster Central blog says all pages will be held to the same standard for search rankings, but that developers expect the update to “only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience.”
2. Fast page loads keep visitors from giving up on your blog.
Even if Google doesn’t downrank your site for loading slowly on mobile, visitors may decide it’s not worth waiting around for your content. More than half of mobile users will bail on a site that takes more than three seconds to load—but many mobile pages take 15 or more seconds to load.
How big a deal is it? It depends on your bounce rate and your page speed. Check your analytics to compare your mobile and desktop bounce rates. If your bounce rate is higher and your page load times are lower on mobile than on desktop, you’ve got a problem that needs fixing.
3. Faster page loads may help you beat the competition.
If you sell on your blog and have competitors, remember that they’re under the same pressure to get with the page speed program. Deliver faster load times than they do and you may appear higher in search results.
How big a deal is it? If you make money from your blog and sell in a competitive niche, faster load times are a must.
4. Faster page load times may raise your blog’s conversion rates.
Even if you don’t sell on your blog, there’s probably something you’d like your visitors to do besides read and leave—join your email list, follow you on social media, join the discussion in the comments. All of these steps are conversions, just as getting a visitor to sign up for a class or buy the jewelry you blog about are conversions. Faster page speeds won’t translate directly into more conversions, but they can contribute.
How big a deal is it? If prospects find your competition first in search results and never see your blog, or visit but bounce after 8 seconds of waiting, there’s no chance they’ll convert. Get those calls to action in front of your visitors fast and you stand a better chance of earning conversions.
5 Free Google Tools To Improve Your Page Load Times
Here are five Google tools you can use to see how fast your site loads and how you can make it faster.
1. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test is easy. Plug the page URL you want to test into the search field and run your test. In a minute or so, you’ll get the verdict: mobile-friendly or not. If there were any issues loading your page during the test, you’ll get a list of those along with tips on fixing them.
2. Google PageSpeed Insights
PageSpeed Insights compares your site’s load times on desktop and mobile. You may find that your site scores fine on the Mobile-Friendly Test but does poorly on PageSpeed’s mobile evaluation. Again, you’ll get a list of suggestions for improvement (such as optimizing your images for fast loading times) plus a downloadable file of site elements that Google optimized for you.
Lighthouse is a good option if the fixes recommended in your Mobile-Friendly and PageSpeed test results don’t solve your slow load times. It’s a developer tool, so the results are more technical than those in the tests above. They’re also broader – Lighthouse checks SEO, progressive web app performance, accessibility, best practices, and overall performance. You’ll get a downloadable report with recommendations you can work on or share with a professional developer.
4. Speed Scorecard
Speed Scorecard is one of Google’s newest tools. It lets you compare load times for up to ten sites, including your own. However, its comparison database only includes sites popular enough to appear in the Chrome User Experience Report. Most smaller blogs won’t show up, but that doesn’t mean you can’t check out larger competitors or colleagues in your niche.
5. Revenue Impact Calculator
Google’s new Revenue Impact Calculator (below the Speed Scorecard) is where you can put a dollar amount on your page speed, if you sell things on your blog. Even if your site doesn’t show up in the Speed Scorecard database, you can still measure the revenue impact of speeding up your page loads if you enter a few pieces of data from your dashboard and accounts:
- Current page load speed
- Average monthly site visitors
- Average order value
- Conversion rate
For example, a blog that loads in 8 seconds, has 500 visitors a month, an average order value of $50 and a conversion rate of two percent could earn $471 more per year by reducing the page load time to 4 seconds. Another blog that loads in 5 seconds, gets 20,000 monthly visitors, has an average order value of $100 and a conversion rate of 1% could earn $14,721 more per year by dropping the page load time to 2.8 seconds.
Page Speed Does Matter for Blogs
Ultimately, page speed is a big deal if you want visitors, readers, and revenue for your blog, and it will probably become an even bigger deal as more traffic moves from desktop to mobile. Keep up with the latest innovations, make sure your web host delivers the speed you need, and make sure you’re following all seven of these best practices for speeding up your website.
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.