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Optimize a Website

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Page speed

We're going to go into a little bit more of the technical aspects of optimizing a website for users. Page speed is very important.

Ranking factor

Page speed is a ranking factor in SEO. So, it's one of the many, many things Google looks at when they're deciding how to rank a website in search results.

So, if your pages on mobile or on desktop load really slowly, that's going to affect how your website is shown in search results, and it's also going to affect your user experience. And that ties into everything we've been talking about, in terms of website optimization. So, page speed is really, really important, especially on mobile.

Attention spans

Users have a little bit shorter of an attention span on mobile. They are much more likely to leave a page if it takes longer than three seconds to load. And that doesn't seem like a lot, but if you counted out to yourself, you can see that the waiting for it to load could add up. So, one way to do this is through AMP, Accelerated Mobile Pages, and that's something a little bit more technical than we're going to talk about.

But that is a way that Google has been trying to get website owners to have more streamlined versions of their site. So, that might be something for you to look a little more into if you're interested, if you have a lot of content pages, like blogs on your site.

Indictor of other issues

Page speed is also an indicator of other issues on the site.

So usually, a site isn't loading slowly just because. There's always something that is causing it to load really slow. So, if you're getting a bad test result on the Google testing tool, there might be a lot of things to blame. Really big images, your JavaScript or plugins aren't loading correctly, or maybe certain things on the back end of the site just aren't loading right.

How hosting and website design affects page speed and optimization

Page speed can help you identify what's not working and how to fix it, and that's going to help with your user experience. So, there's a couple ways that hosting and website design are going to affect page speed and optimization.

Hosting providers

Some hosting providers are faster than others, just due to the capacities they have, their quality of servers, their team, and a lot of different factors.

Make sure that you look at the reviews and their average load time for pages, whenever you're deciding what hosting provider to choose.

The hosted files and the code

Consider your page content and the code. Maybe there's a lot of code that doesn't really need to be used on the back end of a site.  A lot of times this happens if you paste something in from Word, into a WordPress Editor, a new blog post screen. That might have a lot of excess code that doesn't need to be there, that needs to be taken out. It might seem like a little thing, but these all add up to really affect your page speed. The elements of a website can really slow it down as well.

Website elements

It seems really cool to add all these interactive elements. But again, if that's not really helping users convert or giving them the information they're looking for, it might not be worth it to have on your site. You might see elements like website sliders. They are those automated slideshows on home pages of websites that automatically cycle through an image, and then a link to information.

That actually might be something that's really, really slowing down your site. So, you might want to consider whether this is really worthwhile to have on the website if it's going to affect the page speed.

Other things that could happen include widgets and animations. If you have a tool that's really interactive, if it's not streamlined to be as little code as possible and take up a little bit of file space, then it could be slowing down the page speed, because every time a website page is displayed, the hosting provider is actually calling that from your hosted files and displaying it.

The bigger a file is, whether that's code or widget or whatever, that is actually the more time a hosting provider's going to have to take to load your site.


Images can really affect page speed. Perhaps you always use the default image size. Maybe you download images from a stock photo provider, and they're the big sizes, 2,000 by 2,000 pixels.

If you load those onto your site, then every time you’re hosting provider is going to have to display that huge image. When possible, always make those as little as you can. So, if the width of your website is 700 pixels or that column, you should only make the image 700 pixels, if it goes across.

Broken elements

If elements are broken, that can cause your whole site not to work properly. You may have a plugin that's outdated or it’s using code that just doesn't work anymore.

Maybe something won't load right and it'll show an error screen, or maybe whole pages of your site just won't load at all. These errors can affect what information is shown to the user. So, some websites use some weird plugin for their navigation, and when that's broken, the entire navigation just disappears. So, those types of things are key to make sure that they're up to date and they're coded right, and that's going to help with your optimization for your website.

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Please note that the module slides are designed to work in collaboration with the module transcript document. It is recommended that you use both resources simultaneously.

Digital Marketing Resources:

Kelsey Jones

Digital Marketing Consultant and Writer

  • 9 years’ experience in SEO and writing for the web
  • 17 years’ experience in HTML
  • Experience writing content for small and large brands
  • US Search Awards Judge 2014, 2015, 2016
  • The Drum US Search Awards Judge 2017
  • Former Executive Editor, Search Engine Journal, 2014-2017

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful. While relevant to this module, you will not be assessed on this content.

You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library


    Website Optimization
    Kelsey Jones
    Skills Expert

    This module introduces key concepts underpinning effective website design and the purpose of website optimization. It will enable you to build and publish a simple, well-designed, and optimized website using WordPress that is aligned to specified business goals. The module also covers how to use metrics to capture, track, and measure website activity to develop deeper insights.