Website Page Speed; why it’s essential for better SEO rankings

There is no way around this; your website has to load in less than a second.

Anything longer than that, and your next customer will be hitting that back button and onto the next search. It’s one of the biggest conversion killers and will harm your business; be warned!

In this article, let’s dive straight into page speed and why it’s critical, how it can heavily impact your conversion rates, your SEO rankings, and ways to speed up your website load times.

What Is Page Speed

Moz defines Page Speed as a measurement of how fast the content on your page loads.

If you’re curious about your page speed load times, Google has this nifty tool for checking your page load times.

It would be best if you were aiming for your website to load within 3 seconds, and anything less will affect the user experience, as SEM Rush highlights below in these statistics:

  • The first-second delay resulted in a 4.9% drop in the number of articles a visitor read.
  • The three-second delay resulted in a 7.9% drop.

Looking at the above stats, you can see that the longer a page takes to load, the more customers you will lose. It’s as simple as that. 

How to boost page speed

Your page loads will quickly depend on several variables; some are quick fixes, and others will need a web developer helping hand to help. Each of these variables will add precious seconds to impatient customers that demand instant web page load times.

These include:

Image optimisation

Pagely tells us that: converting a .png image to a .jpg and compressing to 85% could potentially reduce the file size by more than half. 

If you have a WordPress CMS, you can easily compress all images in the dashboard as you upload each one. Many small business websites will have large image galleries showcasing their work or main photos on the home page banner without consideration for page speed times. These drag load times down to a crawl and do nothing more than annoy, irritate and frustrate customers who want to see these images quickly. To compress images, get your web team ( and they should know this already ) to run your site through WP Smush. You’ll see immediate improvements in page load times without compromising the integrity or clarity of your photos.

Not using WordPress? There are still plenty of image compression options out there, like Caesium and the Mass Image Compressor.

Remove plugins

Old, outdated, unnecessary plugins will reduce load times for your website, so get rid of these asap. They are sitting there doing nothing and slows your site down. Again, if you have a WordPress CMS, you can delete these in the dashboard with the click of a mouse.

Upgrade hosting

When was the last time you audited your hosting package? Most people haven’t got the slightest idea who’s hosting their website. They pay a small monthly fee and forget about it. I bet you didn’t know that you share your hosting server with hundreds of other sites, and if one of these sites gets infected with a virus, it could harm your site? Plus, this can slow your site down. For maximum warp website speed, consider upgrading your hosting package to a dedicated server. For larger eCommerce sites where there’s lots of traffic, dedicated servers are a no-brainer. There is a bump in the monthly fee, but you’ll quickly notice the difference in page load times.

Update your CMS

Websites backbone is called a content management system, also known as a CMS. If your site has an old CMS, then it’s time to upgrade to a new CMS with clean code and is most likely a lot faster than the one you’re currently using. The best and most popular CMS is WordPress which is what Hopping Mad Designs uses for our clients. At this stage, it might be a good idea to redesign your site. But make sure that during this update, you don’t harm your current SEO rankings.

Related article11 Tips to Speed Up Your WordPress Website

Understanding Page Speed

Understanding page speed isn’t about how quick the whole page loads on your desktop or mobile phone. There are different ways you can measure page speed which include:

a) Fully Loaded Page: It’s the most common interpretation of page load speed times, and it’s the time it takes for the full page to load right there in front of you. Does it creep slowly down the page, or does it pop up quickly? 

b) First Contentful Paint: This is the time it takes for the user to get a clear idea of the web pages intent. You will most likely see the first 30% of the pages images, content and graphics. For example, suppose you’re downloading a page about business loans and a video and interest rate table. In that case, you could read the interest rate table while waiting for the video to download. An extreme scenario, but most people are prepared to wait a few seconds extra for all the content to download, especially if it’s a trusted brand.

c) Time to First Byte (TTFB): Wikipedia describes TTFD as the duration from the user or client making an HTTP request to the first byte of the page being received by the client’s browser.

I would say that this is a supercritical metric as users want to see some response from the website once they click on the link. If you get the dreaded circle in waiting time, most people are going to exit. Improving TTFD times is the responsibility of the server and your hosting company. If they are unable to fix this and reduce TTFD issues, then it’s time to leave.

How Important Is Page Speed for SEO?

Google wants speed! They have told us this since 2010.

I understand why they have now made page speed a significant part of their ranking algorithm. They want to give users the best possible experience, which includes websites that are fast to load. Why would they show you websites that annoy their users?

Users, especially those on mobiles, want fast, snappy information at their fingertips. They are on the go, looking for products or services and need to make decisions without waiting for pages to load. It’s the way users browse now, and Google recognises this phenomenon.

There is a direct correlation between SEO and page speed; the faster the site, the better the rankings and the slower the site well, you know what happens to them.

According to Search Engine Watch, page speed is not a huge ranking factor but plays a significant role in conversion rates. But it still can give your website the edge it needs to climb up a few spots on page 1, which could be the difference between getting the sale or not. Many other factors determine your SEO ranking, such as link building and content marketing, which should be your primary focus. 

In terms of the user experience, slow load times will impact bounce rates. That is, users will bounce off the age they enter the site, never to return. Google measures these bounce rates, and if they detect an unusually high consistent bounce rate, it will impact rankings. There is a cohesive marriage between bounce rates, user experience, and page speed, which can help or hinder your SEO which in turn can affect your sales leads and ultimately revenue.


Speed kills, but when it comes to your website, ‘slow speed kills’. Keep this in mind if you start to see a drop off in sales or inquiries. Page speed is often an afterthought in the web design process, but statistics like every 0.1 seconds that your page speed improves can increase your conversion rates by 8%, is proof enough to see how well your site’s speed is performing and look at ways to improve this. More often than not, these tweaks and adjustments are easy fixes, and you can have your site loading in record time. 

How to Avoid SEO Catastrophe During Your Website Redesign

Sprucing up your website is a great idea. Improving your online image with a great looking website can have great results and bring in more customers.

Giving your website an overhaul can significantly impact your SEO rankings if your web agency isn’t aware of the protocols. 

At Hopping Mad Designs, we have seen many businesses online rankings plummet after launching a new site because they ignored some basic rules of the website migration process. Yes, they might have made the site load faster, made the user experience more enjoyable and perhaps helped with sales in the very short term. Tweaking the website is only half the process; the other is the migration. Get it wrong, and your in for a wild SEO ride. Watch those much-loved rankings plummet over the next couple of weeks; this is a certainty!Website redesigns are a must for your business.Many SME’s are not worried about their website until they have to. They are probably doing ok with sales and inquiries, and their rankings on Google are also consistent, so why bother changing? This attitude can linger for years until one day, a brand spanking new competitor with a shiny new website starts taking all the business. Watching your competition do it bigger and better than you is when the alarm bells start to ring, and you decide it’s time to be proactive and get a new website.

Reasons why your business might need a new website include:

1) You still have an HTTP and not an HTTPS at the front of your URL. While this is a technical reason, it may highlight the age of your website and point out that you haven’t updated it in a while. This is a quick fix, but it can affect your Google rankings; it trusts HTTPS sites. Even Google tells us to secure your site with HTTPS.2) You still have photos of old staff that no longer employed. 3) Your websites don’t reflect your brand or business any longer.4) Your website isn’t mobile-friendly, which is a massive reason why you need a new look. Your customers are on the go and are browsing on their websites when searching for a product or service. If you are not catering to this new mobile active market, then you are losing business. Statista tells us that In 2017, 75.8 per cent of the Australian population used a smartphone, and the share was estimated to reach around 80.1 per cent by 2025. This represented just over 21.5 million smartphone users across the country.5) Your website takes longer than a few seconds to load. Slow load times are a conversion killer and will turn customers away.I have written other reasons why people leave your website, which you might identify with.

Stuffing up your Google rankings with a new website is common.

At Hopping Mad Designs, we have redesigned countless websites without any sudden drop in rankings for our clients. Why? Because we follow a rigid checklist that we adhere throughout the migration process. You don’t want to stuff this process up as it can harm businesses.Following are some fundamental mistakes many SEO professionals, marketers make during the website migration process. Knowing these are extremely helpful if you want to have a crack at this.

Poor Planning

You have not invested the time during the scoping and UX phase of the design process to learn the businesses goals. For example, there might be redundant services that you no longer wish to have on the new site. Conversely, you might want to replace old services with new ones or remove outdated products. All these need to be noted in the scoping phase so your web developer can implement them in the design phase. Having a correct and neat URL structure will help with the migration process.Let me break this down further.Let’s say you have an eCommerce website that sells tennis shoes, and you have replaced them with football boots.Your URL structure needs to change you have to add a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one. In this way, you don’t lose any link juice built to the old URL. Let me explain. Your old tennis shoes URL would have built up some trust, authority and rankings over the last couple of months or years. It probably ranked well on Google, so you want to pass this good authority to the new football boots URL to rank quicker.301’s between old URL’s and new ones are critical to a successful website migration, especially if your radically changing the structure of your site.Many businesses had their website built using content management systems that need upgrading to WordPress websites, which involves a whole new URL structure. This means you will need to 301 redirect a whole bunch of old URLs to new WordPress style URL’s. If you have a large website, this could be the most time consuming and essential part of the redesign process. I suggest leaving these to web experts that have a sound background in 301 implementations ( unless someone is able to clearly explain this process to you).
Failing to do this 301 redirect for the migration will result in Google deindexing all your old pages and you losing all that great Google juice built up over the years. Failure to redirect old URL’s will serve up a whole lot of 404 errors ( page not found ) which is a poor customer experience and can marginally damage your brand.If you keep the same sitemap and website structure, you don’t have to worry about 301 redirects in rare cases. I can’t tell you the number of times I have had to go in and rescue websites post-launch that have not implemented 301’s correctly. Rankings have tanked, business owners are freaking out, and it’s a complete mess. 

All WordPress websites will have a 301 redirect option in the dashboard that you can easily use as shown below.

Once you get the hang of it; 301 redirects are easy to implement.

On-page Optimisation

You have to make sure all new on-page elements in the redesign are Google compliant. Essential on-page must-haves include page titles, descriptions, page load times, and the content needs to reflect the intent of that page for the user. In other words, all separate page elements need to line up nicely to give users the best experience possible. This is where your web design team must have a thorough knowledge of SEO, as the two disciplines need to work together cohesively.


Don’t do the launch on a Friday afternoon, as issues can and most likely will happen. Wait till Monday and go through your launch checklist. The most crucial thing is to check for broken or missing links. Never rush this process as you may miss something. WordPress has a broken link checker, which is a handy tool to have.

Post website launch SEO checklist

Any decent web design agency will monitor the website after launch, and the following is a comprehensive list of things they need to be watching.

1) Check redirects

All 301 re-directs need to be in place. Check to see if any of your main keywords have dropped on Google after the launch. If they have, this may be a result of missed 301’s. Businesses have rung me up in a panic complaining that their main keywords are no longer ranking, and it’s always the same; the web agency forgot to do the 301’s. 

2) Test Site-to-Live Site Audit

You might have implemented all the correct on-page elements on the test site, but have these been taken over to the new site? Go through all the main landing pages and check for apparent anomalies. Also, don’t forget about any schema markup you have on the site.

3) Website Speed

Please don’t assume that because you have a new website, it will load faster. You might have new plugins or graphics that can slow page speeds. Pingdom allows you to check page speed load times and make corrections to increase site speed.

4) Submit XML Sitemaps

When you are 100% satisfied with your 301 redirects and all the on-page elements, it is time to submit the XML sitemap. 

5) Monitoring

For the next couple of months, keep a close eye on the site and see if any issues arise. There shouldn’t be any major hiccups, but there’s always the chance you could have missed something—login to your Google Webmaster Tools account, which will highlight any issues such as broken links etc.

6) On-Going SEO

Now you have your new website and things seem to be going well; you need to maintain or improve your rankings which involves an SEO campaign that should be part of your marketing mix. A new WordPress website might give you a bump in the rankings, but that’s about it. To remain competitive and take business from larger companies, you MUST do SEO – simple as that.