Page load speed and what does that mean for publishers

Today’s world is defined by speed, many innovations were born from the challenge of getting something done quicker. We want to reduce our commute to work, we want our internet to be as fast as possible, we don’t want to wait around connecting to calls and virtual meetings. Page Load Speed is no different. With the complexity of page infrastructure and setup coupled with SEO and monetization, we will help you understand Page Load Speed and what you can do as fast as possible!

What is Page Load Speed

Page Load Speed is simply how fast content on your web page is able to load. Some people call this your Site Speed. The content that affects page load speed include CSS, HTML, JavaScript, images, caching and any tags present and firing on your web site.

Why does Page Load Speed matter?

Page Load Speed is a critical factor in the success of an online publishing business. Here are 3 reasons why site speed is so important:

  1. User Experience; How many times have you visited a site and been frustrated by how slow it is to load either ads or content? This poor user experience will lead users to not hang around and wait for the site to become usable and they will leave.
  1. SEO; Making sure users can find your site is of paramount importance. Operating a website is not a case of ‘If you build it they will come’, optimizing your appearance in search engine results will increase your number of visitors and impressions.
  1. Monetization; A slow website will reduce your opportunity to generate revenue whatever your monetization model may be. Users may not stick around to view or click on ads, some ads may not even load and forget about users visiting other pages or viewing more content. 

How does Page Load Speed affect Ad Revenue?

Most publishers today rely on ad revenue to keep the lights on and to continue producing content, success is ultimately measured by ads viewed and interactions. Page Load Speed impacts a publisher’s ability to generate ad revenue due to slow pages. At the end of the day, faster page load leads to an increase in page views which are driven by three key factors:

  1. Improving Search Engine Ranking; so users can find your site
  2. Reducing Bounce Rate; so users do not immediately leave your site
  3. Increasing Session Length; so users stay and engage with your site

These three key factors will lead to increased revenues as more visitors and more new visitors should lead to more total sessions and with more active users you will see an increase in sessions per user. What does this all mean? More opportunities to show an ad and for a user to interact with an ad on your site.

How does it affect SEO?

Page Load Speed is taken into account when search engines decide on a website’s search ranking. The better the ranking the more likely their site will be displayed in search results on a search engine. Google’s Core Web Vitals is a measure used by Google in deciding page rankings in search results. They measure three things:

  1. Largest Contentful Paint –  LCP or Loading: The time it takes for a page’s main content to load
  1. First Input Delay – FID or Interactivity: The time it takes for a page to become interactive
  1. Cumulative Layout Shift –  CLS or Visual Stability: The amount of unexpected layout shift of visual page content

How can you improve it?

First of all, it would be great to understand what your Page Load Speed actually is! A useful FREE tool is Google’s page speed insights: Google reports on speed and offers some guidance on what could be done better.

Once you have an understanding of what your Page Load Speed is you can look at areas that you can definitely improve. Here we highlight few of the best ways for you to optimize your Page Load Speed:

  1. Implement Lazy Loading for Ads; lazy load ads are displayed at the moment a user is likely to view them. Lazy load ads improve viewability and increase the loading speed of your web page.
  2. Implement Browser Caching; browser caching enables web pages that have recently been visited to be downloaded as browser cache and stored on a user’s disk that when that user revisits the web page, information for that web page to display is already saved.
  3. Implement Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP); AMP ensures a web page loads faster on a mobile device. With the majority of user traffic coming from mobile devices, it is vital to ensure the web page is mobile-friendly.
  4. Implement Lazy Loading for Images; As with Lazy Loading for Ads, this practice optimizes speed by not loading images when they are not in view.
  5. Reduce Redirects; Ensuring that clean links are used increases efficiency. Webpage redirects create unnecessary HTTP requests which require extra processing time.
  6. Detect 404 Errors; When a web page is visited but no longer exists, it can be very annoying, this also delays website performance. Detecting “Page Not Found” instances before they are picked up by search engines will make a difference.
  7. Utilize a Premium DNS Service; Many people do not realize that DNS hosting can affect speed. Although web hosts offer free DNS hosting, a premium DNS provider will definitely increase site speed and reduce server response times as they more often than not guarantee 100% uptime. 
  8. Decrease the JavaScript usage; optimized JavaScript (JS) execution raises the FDI score, meaning that the time between your browser’s JS compiled code and the page is reduced. Code splitting allows you to delay superfluous JS, which can increase user engagement on your website.

These seven strategies for improving Page Load Speed will go a long way in getting your website to perform at a more optimizable level. There are other practices you can employ so do your research and find the most practical and accessible for you to implement. 

Once you have established your Page Load times, implement the changes above and monitor the effects over time and using Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Periodically, it is good practice to run through these points to ensure you are still optimizing your Page Load Speed.