I was on a Mastermind call with Marquesa Pettway last night and I noticed that some people in the group are using third party landing pages software packages. I think these can be great and makes a lot design work easy for the ‘do it yourselfer’. That ease comes at a price though. Landing page software can be heavy (that’s SEO speak) and can cause your site to load slow. Which in turn effects Google’s or any other search engine willingness to have is show up in search results (they want pages that load fast…and super fast is best).
Why Page Load Speed Is Important
Page load speed is actually on one of about 200 items that are critical to your SEO. But the reason it should be a top concern to you is because it’s a major concern with Google. Google prefers sites with clean code and that download with gazelle speed. That fact really should say it all. Search Engine Journal has an excellent post called How Important Is Site Speed In 2014
Possible Causes For Slow Pagespeed
There’s likely a number of reasons your page is moving at a snails pace, but the best place to start your research on the matter is your hosting company. Most of us are on shared servers. If you’re sharing server space with a really popular site it could cause your page to load slowly.
If you’re trying to save a few pennies by going with a cheap hosting company you might be getting exactly what you’re paying for. As marketers we tend to spend a lot of time focusing on the content we’re developing but choosing the right web host is crucial for your business.
Let’s say you’ve got the hosting thing down but your website is still suffering, here are some other possible usual suspects.
Ads: No one likes them anyway and they mostly get ignored. A single slow loading ad is all it takes to wipe you out.
Images: Images need to be optimized for load speed. I use Adobe Fireworks and Photoshop to optimize images. These programs are fairly expensive and have a steep learning curve…another reason you’ll likely need professional help.
Plugins: One of the benefits of a CMS like WordPress is that it makes a lot of things easy because you can find a plugin for just about anything. Well they come at a price to. Browsers have to load the plugins and that can slow your site down. Even if the plugin says it’s lite (10 or 20 lite plugins are a problem). When I code my website or a clients I take the extra time to hand craft the functionality into the site myself.
Externally Hosted Content: I love video’s on websites. In fact I’m finding more and more that I’m specifically looking for sites with video. When you host your video or slideshow on an external site that site could have issues and in-turn cause you a problem. Try hosting your video’s yourself. It’s painstaking but worth it. Most of the video’s you’ll find on this site are self hosted. Here’s one on the benefits of blogging. This is a video my agency shot for a client, we also provide the hosting.
Code: If your code is bulky your page will load slow. Websites these days tend to have a combination of code for analytics, forms, plugins, you name it. When it’s all said and done they can combine to add quite a bit of page drag for your website. Your webmaster should be skilled at condensing HTML and CSS.
No CDN: Deploying your content across multiple, geographically dispersed servers will make your pages load faster from the user’s perspective.
Google’s Free Tool To Test Site Speed
Google offers a free tool to test site speed. All you have to do is put your exact URL into the bar and it will let you know if you’ve got a problem. I use this tool extensively. What I like about it is that if gives your page a score based on a 100 max value. It also tells you exactly what your problem is so you know what to fix. If you’ve got an issue you’ll likely need some professional attention to get it corrected. The solutions tend to be fairly advanced.
Note: testing page speed is good regardless of what you used to build your site or landing page.
Yahoo Offers Free Advice
Yahoo has an excellent resource on best practices for speeding up your website.