Page speed has become an important ranking factor. Your website doesn’t have to load faster than all your competitor, but you should make sure that the website loads fast enough to provide a good user experience.
A slow-loading website will lose you visitors who decide to visit another site instead of visiting yours. It will also cause you to be shown further down in the SERP. Being further down in the SERP will cause you to get fewer visitors.
There is no set rule for how fast your website is supposed to load. Your website should load as fast as possible. Research shows that you will start to lose visitors if your website takes more than 3 seconds to load. This seems to be the point where potential visitors start clicking the back button to visit another site instead. You will lose more and more visitors for every extra second that your site takes to load.
Do not focus solely on how long it takes for your website to load. How long it takes for your domain to resolve and create a connection to your server are also very important factors that can affect how well you rank. Make sure that your domain resolves in less than 100ms. Your goal should be to keep this below 20 ms but anything below 100ms is acceptable for a small website. Make sure that it takes less than 250 ms to establish a connection to your website and try to download it. Ideally, you should keep this number under 100ms.
How to improve page speed
There is a lot that you can do to improve load speed. Some of these things involve spending extra money but most things I am going to mention below is free to do and takes little effort to optimize. The list below is not a complete list of things that you can do to improve link speeds. There is always more that can be done to improve page speed. The things I list below are simply the most important things to consider.
Good hosting is essential if you want your website to load quickly. Getting good hosting does not have to be expensive, but it requires you to spend some time comparing different hosts and choosing a fast host. If you run a small site in a not too competitive niche then any hosting should be good. If you run a larger site or if you run a site in a very competitive niche then you should do what you can to get an edge and get the fastest hosting you can find.
Fast nameservers are something that is commonly overlooked when optimizing a website. A fast nameserver that resolves quickly will help you rank better. Make sure to use a name server that resolves very quickly in your main geographical market. If the host’s own name servers do not resolve fast enough then it can be beneficial to use a third-party name server.
Combine CSS files
Many free and some custom themes use more than one CSS files. This forces the visitor to download several files instead of only one before he can see the page. Make sure to combine all CSS files into one single file. If you use a simple design you should consider inlining the CSS to avoid loading any external CSS files at all.
Combining JS files
Many websites use a number of JS files that all need to load before the user can see the website. Try to minimize the number of JS files by combining them as far as possible. It is not always possible to combine all JS files into one single file but you can usually combine them into two or three files. Minimizing the number of files that needs to be loaded.
A lot of websites load a lot of features that are not being used. This is especially true if you use a CMS such as WordPress. Almost no one uses all the functions WordPress have to offer and removing any files loaded by features you do not use will allow the website to load faster.
Make sure to enable gzip and other server-side compression tools that allow the files to be sent quicker and then extracted by the user’s computer.
Do not load images before they are actually being shown on the screen. This will dramatically improve the load speed of a website as the users only download images that he wants to see.
Defer CSS and JS
Defer the loading of JS and CSS files until after the HTML has been loaded and first paint has been rendered. This allows the users to start to see and read, the text on the website before all other files have been loaded. This will show a simplified version of the site for a second or so before all files are loaded. It improves the user experience since the user doesn’t have to stare at a blank page while the sites load.