How Page Load Times Impact SEO?
Have you ever clicked on a link you thought would be interesting only to discover the website that you wanted to visit had a very slow page load time? At best, you found this experience a little annoying – but at worst, you gave up on the page completely and went somewhere else.
If you’ve done either of these things, you are not alone. In fact, the folks at Google noticed that slow pages made for a poorer user experience, and it 2010 they decided to factor page load time into their SEO algorithm. Since that time (all other factors being equal), slower websites have received a lower ranking on Google than other faster websites.
How much does site speed matter?
Google is deliberately secretive about its algorithms. All we know for sure is that site speed matters. It’s pretty safe to assume to that web content, proper meta tags, and backlinks still matter more – but speed still matters.
Types of website speed
When discussing website speed there are actually two types of speed to consider. There is “document complete” speed and there is “fully rendered” speed.
Have you ever noticed when you visit a website that sometimes you can still interact with the site even though everything isn’t visible yet? Document complete speed refers to the time it takes between clicking on the website link and being able to interact with the site. Fully rendered speed is the time it takes for the user to be able to see everything that is on the site.
Why is speed a factor?
From a user perspective you already know how irritating it is to land on a slow website. From a business perspective from Google, the corporate minds at Google were discovering that when Google sent users to websites that irritated them, users would use Google less – not good for business.
But even if page load time did not affect SEO, there is good reason why you as a business owner do not want a slow site. Obviously, you do not want to annoy your potential customers but there is more to it than that.
Take a case study in which the popular shopping site, Shopzilla saved three seconds off their load time. The results were that their site received 25% more page views, and between 7-12% more revenue. The bottom line is that faster load time is good for your bottom line!
How slow is too slow?
If you’re site is only marginally slow, there is a good chance that you won’t notice much of an impact on your search engine rankings. It is estimated that only one in one hundred searches have load time issues which might affect their SEO.
Site content still – and likely always will – have much more significance when it comes to ranking sites.
That being said however, Google recommends that sites in the bottom 5% of load time should improve their speed.
If your website is slow, there is definitely a chance however that it could be affecting your ranking. Worse than that however is the fact that you could be missing out on customers and potential revenue. If this is you though, there is hope. There are some simple steps you can take to boost your page speed, regain lost SEO ground and stop annoying potential customers!