Are Your Images Up to Speed?
Pagespeed as an important ranking factor is an urban myth. Just because 10,000 bloggers bang on about how critical it is (if you want high rankings), it ain’t necessarily so!
So no need to get into a flap…
What Google actually said, back in 2010, was that fewer than 1% of search queries would be affected by how fast a page was (“pagespeed”). That 1% figure means that average pagespeed is fine… that a page has to be mighty slow before you have to worry.
It was silly to mention this in 2010. Why not factor pagespeed into the algo in 2000, when bandwidth was much slower?
Since then, mobile usage has exploded. And mobile bandwidth, although improving, is still slow compared to WiFi at home
So Google has noted that pagespeed is a factor on mobile search. And they expect to increase its importance. Nevertheless, it’s still of minor importance compared to the relevance and quality of the content.
We expect that to remain true.
A Better Reason to Increase Pagespeed
Aside from pagespeed directly affecting search results, slow speed can affect user experience…
If a page on your site is slow, users could abandon it before it loads, especially on non-WiFi mobile. A magnificent image is useless if folks won’t wait for it to load!
Result? Lower “time on site” and “number of pages visited.” Those are not only factors at Google… they’re important for your business, period.
Compressing your image files while hardly affecting quality is the best way to give your visitors a speedy experience. And it takes you mere seconds!
Here’s How to Optimize Images
1) Head to TinyPNG, a free service that compresses .png and .jpg files…
2) Drag your images into the box…
3) Wait for the panda to do its stuff, then download each individual file, or the compressed folder containing all the files…
The space you save (64% in the screenshot above) is not insignificant. And to the human eye, there’s no telling the images apart. Judge for yourself…
The “before” image is on the left. The compressed image is on the right. Can you tell them apart?
Bonus hack: If you use WordPress, you have an automated option, the WP Smush image optimization plugin. Simply upload your images and WP Smush does all the file reduction work for you!
Bottom Line Takeaway?
Don’t stress about pagespeed as a Google ranking factor. It’s not nearly as important as it’s cracked up to be. That said…
We’ve gone through ups-and-downs regarding speed. In the early years, pagespeed mattered. As bandwidth accelerated, it became less important. Now that mobile is widespread, speed matters again. But now it’s mobile bandwidth that’s accelerating!
Eventually, the Internet will be super-fast everywhere. Then our advice will be “forget about image size — do what you like!” 🎉
Until then, do nail down the basics — not least, shrinking needlessly bulky images.