It may be hard to understand how website page speed and SEO are connected. Yet all the way back in 2010, Google stated that website page speed would play an important role in technical SEO and will boost your chances of ranking your pages on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). As the rise of mobile devices occurred, a few years later Google confirmed websites should optimize speeds on mobile as well.
What Google means by page speed is how long a visitor will need to wait on the page before it completely loads.
The reason website speed is important from an SEO perspective is because it improves the user experience and makes it easier for a bot to crawl pages. As a result, Google has a strong preference for websites that have fast speed. Yet, keep in mind that website speed is not as top of mind to Google’s ranking criteria as the relevance of the page to the user.
A survey by Unbounce shares that many users believe it’s their internet service provider who is to blame for slow page load speed. The fact is a poor internet connection may affect page speed, but more often than not if you’re not optimizing your website speed then you’re also contributing to the problem.
Here are ways website speed can affect SEO:
Decrease bounce rate
Visitors to your website don’t want to wait for your pages to load. They’re visiting your site for a reason and any friction they experience along the way will turn them off. If there is a delay when they’re trying to access the content, they will likely bounce from the page.
According to Unbounce, the bounce rate of pages that take 2 seconds to download is 9%, but more than triples if it takes 5 seconds to load.
If it’s your homepage or landing page that people are bouncing from this can be problematic. Your homepage is the gateway to the rest of your website, so you want to make sure this page loads quickly. While a landing page is extremely important since it’s where you try to convert your website visitors.
Another consequence of poor page load speed is that you may miss out on conversions. If visitors bounce from your website, they won’t complete the action you wanted them to. The bottom line is a faster website speed will also likely lead to more conversions.
If you’re in the e-commerce space can you afford to have a high bounce rate? Staggering statistics show that even a one second delay in loading a page on a mobile device can cause conversions to decrease by 20%.
Easier to crawl
The faster a webpage loads, the faster Google’s bots can crawl the page and index it. As a result, search engines give this factor preference. Optimizing for website speed will help the bots crawl your pages more efficiently and make them more likely to rank your pages in SERPs.
Mobile devices versus desktop website speed
Website speed is a key consideration across all devices not only desktop browsing. With more people accessing content and looking for answers on their mobile devices, considering ways to improve your website speed on these devices is key.
According to Google, it takes 15.3 seconds on average for a page on a mobile browser to load.
Website speed test tools
Start by determining how fast your website is currently. Fortunately, there are many free tools that you can use to discover how fast your website speed is and the reasons why it may be slow:
What is a good page speed?
There really isn’t a standard ideal webpage speed. Top ranking Google pages tend to load in 3 seconds. The point is that when it comes to page speed, your goal should be to make your website as fast as it can possibly be.
It can also be a competitive advantage to have a fast site since you can steal customers away from competitors with slow sites. When visitors bounce off their site, they’ll be delighted to find yours.
How to improve website speed?
There are many ways to improve website speed. Many of them require a developer or a technical SEO expert to step in for the more complicated tasks. Yet, there are a few things you can do to speed up your website without the help of these individuals:
Reduce the number of redirects
Each time your pages redirect it slows down page load speed. So, if you have additional redirects that aren’t necessary, it could be time to clean up your redirects.
Clean up code
If there’s any extra code on a page that doesn’t serve a purpose for your site anymore consider removing it. This could be leftover code from features that you may have already removed from your site, or other page elements that you aren’t using. There’s no reason for this code to be there, so get to work on deleting it.
Reduce image size
If image sizes are much larger than they need to be, consider resizing and compressing them. Many site owners will upload images at their maximum size. The best way to solve this issue is by cropping them to the exact size needed for the page. This can be an easy win to speed up your pages.
Now that you know how website speed affects SEO. Get in touch to learn more about how to speed up your website.