If you’ve just recently started up a website or even a partner site, and you’re not getting the kind of traffic you want, you may find yourself wondering “does website speed impact search ranking?” Search engines like Bing and Google have a checklist of things that they look for and evaluate when organizing the most relevant results, which is what determines the search ranking, and therefore the order of the websites listed after a search is performed. If you would like to stay at the top of searches, it’s important you know about how website speed can impact search ranking- and what to do about it.
Website Speed and You
Put simply, website speed (or more accurately, page loading speed) refers to the time it takes for a webpage to load. The speed at which the pages of a website load can be affected by a number of factors, including, but not limited to the level of content, the form the content takes, and the processing power behind the website itself. Typically, it is measured in one of two ways- either by the time it takes a single page to load fully, or the time it takes for the browser to receive the first byte of data from the server.
Website Speed and Search Ranking
Website speed does impact search ranking; reports indicate that both Google and Bing (and a lot of other search engines) include website speed via a number of criteria, as one of the factors influencing search rating. Knowing this, it’s important to optimize your website to increase page loading speed in order to rank as high as possible. If you are unaware of where your website stands in terms of speed, there are a number of tests to determine how efficient your website is. Put simply, faster is better. Always.
Are there any Drawbacks to a Slow Website?
As technology advances, and more and more information can be shared via Internet connection, access to this network is expected as a convenience- especially in terms of mobile culture. In fact, while the page loading speeds of both desktop and mobile devices are both important, the mobile loading speed is the more important criterion of the two.
What Does This Mean for Businesses and Potential Customers?
Why does this matter from a business end? Snap decisions. Impulse buys. When people are using mobile devices, they are looking for convenience, are likely on the move- which means they are interested in making a decision, but they need a little more knowledge to make that decision. And when people are looking for answers, they want to be able to make an informed decision quickly. Regardless of the information available on a website, if it takes an abnormally long time (more than two seconds, typically) for that information to load, a potential visitor will likely lose patience. When it comes to relaying information, speed is king. A slow website will cost you business, directly through customers who ‘walk away’, and indirectly through a lower position on search rankings.
How to Improve Website Speed (and Positively Impact Search Ranking)
There are a number of things that you can do to improve the speed of your website. In general, you want to ensure that all of the content on each page is completely relevant, without being frivolous and over the top. Everything in its place. Everything serving a purpose. Once you’ve determined what content you absolutely need, it’s time to optimize that content. For starters, it helps to streamline your code, making it as efficient as possible by removing unnecessary characters. From there, you can enable file compression on certain code files over 150 bytes. You’ll also want to cut down on needless redirects between domains within your website- take the most direct route possible when transferring from one page to another.
In the same vein, it makes sense to trim down on pages you don’t need for the website. From a server standpoint, it makes sense to optimize by adding more memory and better software, things which will better allow your server (and thus your webpage) to handle larger levels of traffic.
The End Result
In summation, website speed (page loading speed) will most definitely negatively impact search ranking. Fewer customers will see your site and therefore it will be less popular; search engines will see how slow it is, as well as how infrequently it is visited, and rank it lower- it’s a vicious cycle.
To avoid this, it’s crucial to maintain a good website speed as part of the SEO process. First, determine your website’s speed via testing; from there, troubleshoot potential causes, including bottlenecks and redundancies, that can impact search ranking. Afterwards, be sure to maximize your website’s efficiency streamlining your code and your systems and filtering out anything that is unnecessary.