Tag Archive for: Search Engine Marketing

Does Website Speed Impact Search Ranking

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

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.

Google AdWords Changes : truth and myth

On February 18th, 2016, Google AdWords changes took the digital marketing industry by surprise. The removal of right side ads on desktop results page created panic and much heated debate. While discussions are still going strong on the topic, most agree a month later that Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Armageddon will have to wait. Again.

What the Google AdWords changes mean for advertisers

The major change Google implemented on the search results was removing the ads from the right side, and balancing the deletion by adding a 4th paid position on the top of the page. The intent, in the interest of fairness, is mostly geared towards products and services, and high-commercial value search keywords (as in, competitive markets).
If you search for something generic that doesn’t necessarily involve commerce, the result page is still mostly free of ads.

For example, on the query “cashmere”, one ad comes up (LL Bean… but they probably bid on every type of wool, fabric or garment). The query “origins of cashmere” yields purely organic results.

But the result page on query “cashmere sweater” displays both ads and product listing ads.Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 12.15.28 PM

What do Google AdWords changes mean for advertisers is still left to guessing, although a month of data (as per WordStream) puts some speculation to rest.

CTRs (Click-thru rates) are up, CPCs (cost per click) are steady, impressions are down.
Companies that bid for brand, niche markets, displays and video-oriented content and mobile advertisers are not affected by this little revolution (mobile results were already on 4 ad slots).

What about those advertisers that got killed, you may wonder? It turns out the right hand side of the search results page was not very profitable. The bottom of the page may still display up to 3 AdWords slots, up for grabs. While the RHS (right hand side) advertisers feel they lose visibility, and companies positioned 5-11 are not happy to move below the fold, the users feel they get more relevant results with fewer commercial distractions.

Consequences of Google AdWords changes to SEO

The first wave of panic upon learning of the change was close to a tsunami in the SEO world.

The first call of action is to gather the troops to work harder on optimization (and maybe find better tools). Since most desktop screens display only above the fold, scrolling is required to find the first organic result.
To top it off, the bottom position moves to the second page (but it’s on top there, so that’s a positive…).

But did Google AdWords changes really make SEO the biggest loser?
“[…] organic has been losing ground to new ad formats and other SERP changes every year”. Here is exactly why SEO professionals recover from the news better than advertisers. So many changes over the years have forced them to adapt and shift their working methods, not their strategies. They have to be more precise, they have to analyze performance with more scrutiny so that keyword and that meta description will bump them back up.

In fact, one may be allowed to think that organic search could benefit from a less cluttered page, where the user can find a more direct access to what they queried for.

The query “origin of cashmere” yields purely organic results

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 12.14.57 PM

So, as users, if information and knowledge are what we’re looking for, we still get them with minimal distraction. And if we are in the business of selling cashmere sweaters, we should run those reports and make sure our content includes “origins of cashmere” or “cashmere origin” (70 queries per month), or buy the top ad slot for a few cents.

It can be argued that Google AdWords changes were mostly implemented to boost ad revenue and that users, small businesses and SEO professionals were collateral damage. As a company Google needs to make profit. As a search engine, it needs to cater to the user. It’s a fine balance. Ultimately, time will tell what, if anything, is affected by the move. So far, the sense of doom has faded, and business has resumed as usual.