- 1 Page Speed Is One Of The Most Important Google Ranking Factors
- 2 Mobile website speed: the biggest challenge today
- 3 Website Speed Is A Marathon, Not A Race
A slow website affects your SEO, and your business’ credibility. Statistics show that even a few seconds’ delay can result in thousands of lost visitors and missed sales. Here’s what you need to know about why speed matters, and how fast should your website be.
Page Speed Is One Of The Most Important Google Ranking Factors
In a statement dating as early as 2010, Google said: “Users place a lot of value in speed, so we take it into account in our rankings.” In 2018, it also named loading time as one of the most important ranking signals for mobile searches. (Source: Search Engine Journal).
What does that mean, in layman’s terms? Even if you have amazing, keyword-rich content and a beautiful web design, your website can still have a low Google score because it takes too long to load.
That’s why it’s important to get expert SEO services during website development, not after. They can check the backend SEO, looking for any pages that have low loading time, and other technical factors that affect ranking, like URL readability and crawlability.
Slow loading time increases bounce rate
People don’t like waiting. According to Google, your bounce rate – or the number of visitors who will leave a site after looking at just one page – goes up by 32% in just 3 seconds.
And visitors don’t just leave; they never come back. About 46% will never revisit a slow website, and they usually have a very bad impression of the brand. In fact, even just a one second delay reduces customer satisfaction by as much as 16%.
How does that affect your website ranking? While Google does not directly use bounce rate in its website scores, it does look at traffic. If a lot of people visit a site, it interprets that as a sign of its credibility and usefulness.
And ultimately, that’s what all search engines are aiming to do: prioritize pages that have a superior user experience.
Businesses want a good user experience too, which is probably why they do spend hours thinking of marketing campaigns like promos, and refine the website design and content. But they often overlook website speed until it becomes an actual problem: a customer complains, or the bounce rates show up in the search engine analytics reports.
But by then, the bad loading times has already impacted the ranking, and turned away customers that never bothered to complain because they have already moved on to a competitor’s site. So, website speed should be prioritized as much as any other aspect of a brand development, and monitored along with content creation and keyword optimization.
Search engines can take longer to crawl the site
Many of the issues that cause poor loading time can also have a negative impact on the way search engines will recognize and crawl your content.
This includes bad links, poor code, or heavy images that are not properly optimized.
In some cases, there are also website elements that slow down the site unnecessarily, without adding any real value to the user, and relevance to the search engine query.
It’s like piling on rocks on a life boat: your website is sinking because of things you don’t even need. Meanwhile, valuable content is buried under that pile, and because of bounce rate or low search engine ranking, nobody can find it.
Simple is better and faster, and that’s what an SEO-driven, speed-sensitive content plan can do. It identifies relevant content, makes sure it’s formatted and delivered according to best practices, and then ensures that the information can be quickly found during a user search.
Ideal Speed: How fast should your website be?
Speed is important, but how much speed do you need? According to Semrush, a good starting point is to compare your website against the rest of the web.
- A website load time of 5 seconds is faster than 25% of the other sites
- A website load time of 2.9 seconds is faster than 50% of the other sites
- A website load time of 1.7 seconds is faster than 75% of the other sites
- A website load time of 0.8 seconds is faster than 94% of the other sites
However, you also have to factor in human behaviour. You may be happy with a 2.5 second load time and being in the top 50%, but your customer is comparing you to your competitor.
If a store that sells exactly the same product, and has a more responsive page, is he going to care that you’ve got a passing score—or is he going to choose the best and fastest?
In fact, for e-commerce stores, the accepted threshold for website speed is about 2 seconds, or how long it takes for one breath. However, Google has stated that it aims for half a second load time—about the time it takes to blink.
For content-driven sites like publishing, they may have a little more patience, but website speed was still a factor. In one test where loading time was increased for each additional page they read, the first one-second delay caused nearly 5% drop, and the next three-second delay caused another 7.9% drop.
In other words, slow loading time decreases the amount of content they read, and how many times they interact with your site—no matter what kind of website you have.
Mobile website speed: the biggest challenge today
Poor site speeds are already a problem on the desktop, but it is an even bigger challenge for mobile experiences.
Today, most mobile landing pages take about 15 to 22 seconds to load. However, mobile users will typically leave the page if it takes longer than three seconds.
Also consider the mobile user’s mindset and search intent. Many mobile users will be searching for places to go or things to do at that moment—like “Chinese restaurants near me”. That information is not only time sensitive, but he may likely be rushing to get his lunch.
Mobile users are also looking for quick, digestible content they can browse through during a commute, or relaxing on a break. If they don’t have time to read a long article, do you think they will have the time to wait for a short article to load?
But here’s why it’s important to get expert SEO services and optimize your mobile speed now: according to Pew Research, almost 50% of Internet users will use mobile foremost of their online activities, from paying bills to watching movies. In some demographic groups, people no longer use broadband connections at home because they rely on their mobile subscriptions.
Mobile is the future, and mobile loading time is the key to survival. Unfortunately, many businesses have not optimized their websites for mobile. The images are too large, the text isn’t compressed, and the user experience is frustrating.
But as mentioned in this article on Google benchmarks for mobile speed, “speed is revenue.” As page loading time goes up from 1 second to 10 seconds, bounce rate goes up by a shocking 123%. And as the size of the elements on the page increases from 400 to 6,000, conversation rate drops by 95%.
Improve website loading speed
Don’t lag behind your competitors. Keep your website speed up to standard by working with a SEO company Melbourne that knows how search engines will review your site, and the best practices for fast loading time.
For example, many e-commerce sites are slowed down by their large database. Our SEO experts can help identify areas where you can improve your speed, such as adding an index. This alone can reduce loading times to less than a second.
SEO experts can also do analytics and speed checks to determine the loading times of different pages, to identify problem areas and work with the development team to resolve them.
And as part of a comprehensive SEO plan, page speed can be balanced with other factors that can affect website traffic and user experience. For example, share buttons may slow down page speed, but it can increase organic traffic. An experienced SEO company Melbourne can help you weigh the pros and cons of these features, and give recommendations.
Website Speed Is A Marathon, Not A Race
SEO and website speed must be monitored and improved continuously. Website speed and ranking fluctuates. Adding a new plugin, introducing new landing pages, or expanding your customer database all can have impact on a site.
With an SEO plan, you stay ahead of the game—looking for opportunities to increase traffic and engagement, while making sure that every user who lands on your site is happy with the website loading time.
For more information about search engine optimization, and how to improve your website performance, credibility, and speed, contact our SEO company Melbourne office, or view our list of expert SEO services.