Clearly nobody likes a slow loading webpage on either their mobile device or desktop computer. But few webmasters really understand the impact of slow loading pages when it comes to user experience, search engine ranking and the effect on business revenue. As a top SEO agency, we have run tests on page speed and it is the first thing we tackle with ne w clients.
We live in a very fast world with technology serving information to consumers in light-speed time. With the advent of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages Project) a new bar has been raised for how fast a page should be returned to a user. With businesses investing in digital marketing campaigns to secure high search engine positions and generate target traffic to site pages, a company cannot afford to diminish returns with a slower web site. Losing the speed battle simply means that a web user will click to a competitor site where they will engage in a far better user experience.
With the high internet speeds that consumers have access to, page load time is sometimes the make or break factor for gaining traffic and garnering top placement in search engines. If we understand that the main goal of Google is to return the best information within the best user-experience it is easy to see why speed is a critical factor in ranking. If Google continually returned slow web sites that took a long time to load it would hinder a web users ability to find information. Searchers would begin using faster search engines that saved them time and offered quicker access to results. It benefits Google to return faster sites and drop slow pages from their ranking.
PageSpeed Insights is a tool offered by Google to test the Mobile and Desktop speed of a web site. Google has confirmed that Page Speed is, in fact, a ranking signal that they look at and the addition of the PageSpeed testing tool validates this point.
Page Speed is not an easy fix with many on-site parameters to analyze and correct. There is a process that we use for increasing page speed and our expert optimization specialists can turn a slow site into a fast, search-friendly, marketing vehicle.
The PageSpeed for our site is far above industry standards despite having a graphic heavy site with extensive content.
One of the core ideas that internet websites try to push for is a high level of user engagement with the content, products or services that they offer. User experience and user engagement are highly correlated and fast sites make it easier for users to engage in content. Recent data from Amazon shows a slower load time of ½ a second would cost them 1% of income and that a page load time of over 3 seconds resulted in almost 39% of users abandoning their shopping carts. Page speed is critically important to preventing loss of income.
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Google has rolled out the Mobile-First Index algorithm change. This means that a website is ranked in a Google search by the mobile version of a website and not the desktop version. Sites naturally will load slower on a mobile device due to the slower technology of a phone versus that of a desktop computer. This algorithm change resulted in many slower loading sites, sites without AMP installed, or pages that were not highly mobile-friendly to substantially drop in search rankings.
A bounce rate refers to the percentage of people who click on the link in the search, but who leave even before the page fully loads. This is an incredibly common occurrence for pages that are slower and can sometimes determine the overall visibility that a website experiences. The worst-case scenario for a website is a bounce where the users clicks to a site from an organic Google search result, immediately bounces back to Google and continues to search. This clearly shows Google that the site that they have ranking is not relevant for that search terms or does not provide users with what they really want. A high bounce rate hurts ranking and a slow page increases the user bounce rate.
The page per visit ratio indicates how many pages a viewer visits while they are visiting a website. Generally, when a person clicks on a certain site from the search results, they tend to click on a few more pages within the website to see what else is being offered. When a page is slow and doesn’t load as it should, viewers are usually discouraged from clicking further and exploring other parts of the site. This also means that the total time that they spend on a site is significantly reduced. The amount of time a user spends on a website is directly connected with the potential to create a sale. The more time a user spends browsing a website the greater the chances are that they will take-part in making a purchase or fill out a contact form.
The numbers of abandoned shopping carts due to slow loading e-commerce sites is astounding. Companies spend a great deal of money on marketing to get users to their web site and they spend endless amounts of time loading products into their shopping portal (taking pictures, writing descriptions, including options, setting up payment terms, etc..) only to then let the shopper slip away due to slow page issues. Web shoppers have found the products that they want and are ready to pay only to be shut down and frustrated with the checkout time. This revenue can easily be saved and these abandoned shopping carts can be prevented simply by increasing the speed that pages load.
Revenue lost is not only a result of slow shopping carts. Addition site revenue can be lost by lower ranking websites in search engine results. Page speed is clearly a Google web ranking factor so the benefits of increasing page load speed can have a direct impact on increasing revenue with more traffic and higher search rankings.
Page speed is an important ranking factor. Why would Google deliver slow loading pages that hurt the user-experience of their search engine? The importance Google places on page speed is validated by the creation of the PageSpeed Insights web page which allows webmasters to analyze their website page speed and delivers advice for increasing the site speed.
The Google PageSpeed Insights web page makes rating a website PageSpeed simple with test results returning values between 1 to 100 and separating speed scores into a color coded results of red, orange and green. With the Mobile First Index update, mobile PageSpeed is more important than desktop site speed. Green ratings are optimal results with high orange also being acceptable. Immediately fix websites that deliver red results which signal speeds far below acceptable results.
The first step is to increase your server response times. This involves finding a hosting company that can deliver very fast Time to First Byte (TTFB) to increase load speed. Once this is completed begin compressing images and code, Minify CSS and install caching plugins. Speeds can also be increased using a Content Delivery Network (CDN). If these items are out of your scope of expertise hire and expert to implement the above speed and loading enhancements.