The Importance Of Page Speed For SEO

Page Speed For SEO

Page speed can easily be overlooked by web developers and website owners, but it’s the first thing your visitors notice. Not only are fast page speeds crucial to keeping customers and visitors happy, but they also help you rank better in search results too.

Page Speed Matters to Google

2010 was the year where Google announced it was going to regard page speed as a ranking signal. Google is focusing since a few years on delivering the best onsite user experience possible.

Page speed comes in that logic. Actually, if a site loads fast, chances are better that users will remain on your website as they will experience something positive (of course other elements needs to be considered to offer the best experience possible). While Google seems to reward fast-ranking website it won’t hurt your rankings drastically, unless your website is very slow. In 2010, Google was stated that only 1% of search engine results get penalized by the page speed factor.

Page Speed Matters to Visitors

While page speed is important to Google and for your rankings, it does also impact your user experience. And it is not a secret that a positive user experience often leads to better conversions.

A fast website creates a good user experience in many different ways:

  • if you sell a product, having fast pages will help your visitors quickly understand what you have to offer and complete your order forms.
  • if you generate revenues thanks to advertising on your content, a fast website will ease your visitors to navigate from page to page and will increase your total of page views per user.

Actually, page speed relies on different elements. But for some types of websites, like e-commerce ones, page speed should be your top priority as a bad one could cost you a lot. For instance, Walmart found out they were the fastest retail website compared to sites like Amazon or eBay. They decided to increase even more their speed performances and it results that:

  • ‘For every 1 second of improvement, they experienced up to a 2% increase in conversions
  • For every 100 ms of improvement, they grew incremental revenue by up to 1%’ (source)

Thus, a small decrease can result in significant loss of conversion rate as people will be more likely to abandon their shipping or exit your website.

What Slows Down Page Speed?

The problem with page speed is that there are so many factors that can affect it. Determining the specific factors that are first slowing down your website and then how to optimize the rest of your material can be an extended process, but one with proven results.

Here’s a list of just some examples of things that may be hindering your website with poor load times:

  • Large images – Higher resolution images can look nice, but require much more data than you expect and slow down your site.
  • Advertisements – Unoptimized ads or too many of them can slow down your website.
  • Slow hosting service – It’s possible your hosting service is slowing down your page speed, and that changing it all together is a smart option.
  • Embedded media – Including video on your host directly is quicker than loading it from an outside source, but like images, video can contribute to slowdowns as well.
  • Unoptimized or outdated apps and plugins – It’s possible for a single plugin to have a dramatic effect on page speed. Adobe Flash is an example of a very common plugin that has resulted in negative impacts on many websites.
  • Unoptimized coding – Your website’s code is its basic structure. Newer, cleaner coded websites usually perform better in this regard than outdated sites that have not been optimized.
  • Site theme – Your theme and overall design will affect loading times. The more complicated this theme, the greater the decrease in page speed.
  • Widgets and third party integrations – complex themes and widgets may make your website appear more impressive, but their dense code can decrease page speed.

How to Check Page Speed & What to Do About it

While checking your website from various computers and mobile devices can give you a good idea of the “real world” feel of your site, consulting actual data is required to see how much progress you’re making while trying to speed things up. There are several tools available to do this, a few examples being Pingdom Website Speed Test, Web Page Test, and OnCrawl. These tools can analyze your site and provide detailed information regarding page speed from both the desktop and mobile index perspectives.

There can be a multitude of fixes to the list of possible problems above and find the right one for each issue can take a lot of work. However, some of these tools can also offer suggestions to optimization for your website overall. Google also offers a free service called PageSpeed Insights as a module that integrates with either an Apache or Nginx web server and claims to optimize your page speed automatically.