With Google’s much-anticipated mobile-first algorithm change on the horizon, I get asked all the time how to improve page speed and boost rankings for mobile searches.
Site speed is now a ranking factor and important to get pages loading as fast as possible – especially for mobile. A study involving 5,000 keywords and over 140,000 web pages ranking between positions 1-30 for these showed a clear correlation between top rankings and speed. On average the top 5 pages ranking for a keyword had fastest load speeds and rank 6 on average was 20% slower than rank 1.
Here is a quick 5-minute SEO hack using Google Analytics to identify which pages are slowing you down and killing your rankings.
Follow the step by step instructions here or skip to the bottom of the page and watch the video.
Firstly, you could go straight to the Google Page Speed Insights tool and page by page, test your site and get individual recommendations but this would take a ridiculous amount of time. Also, how would you prioritise which pages to run through the test and keep a record of performance stats?
Well, the answer is simple, it is a feature that has been integrated into Google Analytics and most people either don’t know about or don’t use.
Log into your Google Analytics account and in the left-hand navigation column select Behaviour
Under the behaviour section in Analytics, there is a subsection for Site Speed and within this one for Speed Suggestions. Find the speed suggestions section and select it.
Once you select speed suggestions Analytics will automatically sync with the Google page Speed Insights Tool and analyse the pages on your website for page speed and initially rank them in order of pages with the most views first. The reasoning behind this is that pages that get the most traffic should be high on your priority list to ensure page speed is optimised.
I would also suggest that you check the stats by sorting by the Avg. Page Load Time (Sec) column as well just in case there are a number of very important pages with such terrible page speed that it is seriously impacting their page speed, ranking and therefore the volume of traffic coming through organically before you decide which pages to prioritise.
Click on either the mobile or desktop icons to view the ratings and the recommendations provided for each to improve page speed.
The quickest wins in this area are generally in browser caching and image size optimisation.
A simple method to get the optimised files is to click on the “Optimisations Found” link near the bottom of the page. this will download a zip file with optimised images etc in it that you can swap out with the oversized images in your site.
Note: This is a free, automated tool from Google and there are some recommendations that may not really stack up. You may wish to double check some page speed tests using other tools. A couple of leading tools in this space are:
GT Metrix – an online speed testing tool based on Yahoo’s performance guidelines.
Pingdom a server monitoring and online testing service.
Both are great resources and fairly reliable when it comes to testing load times.
When it comes to implementing tools to make improvements we recommend WP Rocket for WordPress users. While it is a paid plugin, it is not expensive, easy to install and benefits can be realised immediately. Some of its features include:
Caching creates an ultra-fast load time, essential for improving Search Engine Optimisation and increasing conversions. When you turn on WP Rocket, page caching is immediately activated.
Images on Request
Images are loaded only as your visitor scrolls down the page, improving the load time of the page. YouTube, Facebook, Yahoo and other major websites are using this technique.
Static Files Compression
For a quick walkthrough of the analytics process, you can watch the video below.
Glenn is a Partner and Senior Consultant who has had a very successful career building growth companies in the private equity arena. He has a wealth of experience in both the digital space and strategy development. Prior to becoming a partner in SureFire Glenn built one of the largest digital teams in New Zealand for a NASDAQ listed global online marketing company & Google's largest premium partner.