Why Page Speed Matters For SEO
Page speed is a factor measured by Google which affects your rankings. Learn how to test & improve your website’s page speed to be more visible online.
Many people think search engine optimization is focused primarily on using the right keywords in your content and building backlinks to get your website to the top of search engine rankings (mainly Google). However, there are actually a large number of factors and one that often gets under looked is page speed. Google considers your website’s load time in its algorithm and uses that as a factor to determine your place in search results. Since 2010, the company has made page speed a priority and has been outspoken about its stance. That said, knowing your page speed and working to improve it could move you up to that coveted top spot.
Looking at the Big Picture
For Google, page speed is important to its goal of improving the Internet as a whole. That’s because the company understands the impact that page speed has on page views and the number of visitors to a site. Google once asked users whether they wanted 10 or 30 results shown per page. They overwhelmingly chose the latter, which seemed like a good idea at the time – except that when Google made the change, traffic dropped by 20 percent. Why? The pages with 30 results took a half second longer to load. Seems like no big deal, but half-seconds count when it comes to page speed.
As another example of the impact site speed has on visitors, a survey done by Akamai and Gomez.com revealed that web users expect sites to load in 2 seconds or less. If it doesn’t load within 3 seconds, they’re likely to move on to another site. From Google’s perspective, this means that sites with a faster load speed are going to be accessed more often, and are thus more relevant – hence the inclusion of site speed in the ranking algorithm.
Page Speed Online: Testing Your Page Speed
Luckily, Google cares so much about page speed that in 2011 they created a tool called Page Speed Online that allows businesses to test their page speed. Available as a web-based tool and a Chrome extension, Page Speed Online gives your site loading speed an overall score out of 100. After its analysis, Google also provides you with helpful suggestions for improving your page speed. They’re ranked as high, medium, and low priority fixes and split into mobile and desktop categories. They can be rather technical, so you’ll want to share your results with your web developer to see which fixes are most feasible to implement.
A Better User Experience = More Sales
Increasing the speed of your website will also improve the overall user experience for visitors to your pages. Loading time is an extremely important factor in determining how much and how often users will visit your site.
Page speed has implications for your sales and customer retention. For example, a case study conducted by Radware showed that 51 percent of online shoppers in the U.S. will not complete a purchase if the site is too slow. Similarly, another study by Strange Loop showed that a mere one-second delay can cost you 7 percent in sales. It’s in your company’s best interest to make your page load as fast as possible.
A Reliable Web Host Means Faster Page Speed
The speed of your site depends a lot on the speed of your web host’s server. Not all web hosts are created equal. Choosing an inexpensive host may be a good idea in the short-term, saving you money at the start, but it could cost you sales in the long-run. The host you choose should be able to handle all the elements of your site with a great page load speed.
Our most recent study of the fastest web hosts found that InMotion Hosting provided the greatest customer satisfaction when it comes to page speed. The company has its own data centers strategically located on each U.S. coast, making sites hosted by InMotion run faster across the country. Furthermore, their servers feature Solid State Drive (SSD) storage, which offers near-instant data retrieval and lightning-fast speed.
Other Factors That Impact Page Speed
If you’ve got a great web hosting service but are still experiencing problems with your site load speed, there are some common causes that your web developers can look into. Perhaps the number one problem is image optimization. If your PNG and JPG images have extra data included or don’t contain a DEFLATE compressor, they’ll load more slowly. Other common causes include excess ads, inefficient code, cumbersome design themes, excess widgets and plugins, and plugins and apps that are incompatible with certain browsers.
There are many factors that go into determining your page ranking. Your site speed is one that should not be overlooked. Improving your site speed will not only bring your page closer to the top of search results, but it also makes people enjoy using your site more. The better your site’s usability, the more likely they are to stay on your site and the better chance you have of making a sale. Isn’t that the point of SEO in the first place?