Select Page

What is Performance Optimisation

Performance optimisation is the art of making your website perform quicker and to deliver the information at a quicker rate. This can be in the form of page load speed or TTFB (time till first byte). It’s hard of tweaking a site and making sure it is performing to the maximum of its hosts capabilities – I mark this as important as if your web hosting sucks and doesn’t have certain features then you will always be limited by what your website can do, I will go into these features a little later on.

What should you look for in a web host for performance?

Speed MOFO! We are talking full on ZOOOM factor.

You need something that has the ability to grow with you which is why cloud hosting is becoming a more popular option. This is basically a VPS that can be increased in size at any time which in turn will support your websites growth.

But this is quite an obvious statement, right? What else should you look for in a web host?

  • Gzip Support
  • Varnish or some form of server-side caching
  • The latest stable version of MySQL & the latest stable version of PHP (assuming your website runs on PHP and MySQL or equivalent).
  • A host that already states they are optimized from the get-go this could potentially save you a lot of time and money
  • A host that is in the target country that you wish to rank for; locality can have an effect on speed for residents of that specific GEO but also can have a significant impact on rankings within that local GEO.
  • Redundancies in case of error

 

Why is it important?

So you have a website that gets ’s 1000 visitors per month. Out of these 1000 visitors, the average time on site is 1 minute, pretty good average. But your bounce rate or exit rate is super high – I will dig into what these are further down – one of the reasons for this could be due to how quick your website is loading – it could be putting users off. Let’s face it, if you went on a website nowadays and it took over 3-4 seconds to load you would probably click off or start to think the website is broken/down.

Google has actually recognized this and confirmed that they indeed believe websites should load in under 2 seconds if Google is now telling you this; then this is the maximum time your webpage/website should load in. If you are over this time your potentially getting hit by hidden algorithmic penalties which could be ranking you lower. I will be doing a small case study on this over the course of this month and will be updating the results below to figure out if this is indeed theory or FACT (I say this very loosely as we all know this can change at any moment).

What is bounce rate?

This is simply the percentage of visitors who visit your website and then bounce back to the search engine after visiting just one page on your website.

What is Exit Rate?

This is often confused with the term bounce rate, but this is the percentage of visitors to your site who click off to a different site from a specific page; they may have potentially visited quite a few pages but then exited on that specific page; so the numbers are always slightly different.

What tools should I use for measuring the performance of my website?

Google offers a tool in their developer toolkit called Page Speed Insights. This offers some very basic level information but it is what Google actively measure and gauge the success/performance of a site off. There are two tools I prefer to use:

Pingdom Tools

What is it?

Pingdom is a website management tool that offers uptime monitoring and performance measuring services. They are probably best known for their free performance testing tool. The main drawback from a UK point of view is they don’t have any UK based servers and the closest you can get is Sweden which means the performance tests don’t always give you the most accurate results but still it is a very good tool for being free.

Why is it good?

It’s FREE! Any information you can get that will aid you in increasing the performance of your website the better. The great thing is; it gives you a top-level breakdown of what works and what doesn’t. It then doesn’t cache the results; instead, you can re-run the test and see the results increase instantly.

GTmetrix

What is it?

GTMetrix is developed by a company called GT.net which happens to be a company that is based in Canada. It was designed as a tool for their customers to uncover the performance of their websites. So one of the key issues with this tool is the servers are based in Canada so they are slow. But they will still show you what scripts are running and the performance of the site.

What’s different about these tools and page speed insights?

They offer a lot more insight and have a lot more features that they actively measure and work with. I find them to be a lot more accurate then what Page Speed Insights gives you.

Let’s not forget about another tool!

.

Google Analytics (GA)

GA often gives you a good insight into what is working and what isn’t. You can see the bounce rates and exit rates on all pages but also the time spent on the pages/site and also the time it takes the average user to load your site. This gives you good indicators of errors and quite often is something that you can easily take action on.

Noticeable Ranking Changes

So one of my fundamental strategies is to test everything that I do. Some websites I have; have just sat dormant for a while but are on shared hosting accounts etc. So I will share with you its current rankings as well as its current performance levels measured by Pingdom Tools.

Case Study

What will I then do?

  1. I will then upgrade the hosting to a VPS option
  2. I will install caching and varnish
  3. I will optimize the database
  4. I will use various plugins to optimize the theme of the website
  5. I will then measure again and report the results here.

 

We will then wait for one month in total and see if this has any effect on the rankings without adjusting any other element of the SEO. So this will be the only element we play with making the test fair. As it is only being tested on one website I may note individual results may vary and I wouldn’t make this a definitive answer to whether or not you will see a positive movement from performance optimization from an SEO point of view.

 

Before

Website A

Pingdom Results:

Current Rankings:

Current Page Speed:

After

Website A

Pingdom Results:

Current Rankings:

Current Page Speed: