SEO specialists have known for years now how important site speed is in an SEO strategy. It’s so important in fact that tests conducted by online giant Amazon found that if their site slowed down by 1 second, they would lose $1.6 billion in a year.
Site speed is a vital part of SEO for a number of reasons. First off, the loading of a website is the first experience that a user has with your business; and you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. You put so much effort into creating a website that is well designed and full of engaging content that will move the customer through their buyer journey to sale. If your site takes too long to load, a large percentage of people who would otherwise visit your site may drop off. This means that all the effort you have put into creating the site and attracting people to it has gone to waste.
When it comes to mobile, site speed is even more important. 46% of people say waiting for pages to load is what they dislike most about browsing the web on mobile, with 73% of mobile users having encountered websites that take too long to load. At a minimum, you should aim for a load time of three seconds or less. The following are some of the other reasons to improve the loading time of your website:
- Faster sites are easier for search engines to crawl
- Quicker loading sites have higher conversion rates
- A faster load time significantly reduces bounce rates
- Quick loading times improve the overall user experience of your site
Simply put, improving your site speed benefits both your customers and the search engine results.
Site Speed for SEO
There are a number of reasons that site speed affects SEO and should be a considered part of any SEO strategy.
Site Speed is a ranking factor. According to Google, a quicker site will help your website rank better. With recent updates, the search engine has claimed that algorithm changes will only affect the slowest sites, and as such, boosting sites that already load quickly will not impact their rankings. However, this is enough to indicate that site speed is something that is considered by Google. While it may just be the slowest sites that notice an impact at the moment, this is likely to become something that affects sites across the board into the future.
In addition, loading times influence search engine crawling. Modern sites are getting more complex, and generally bigger, which can cause problems for search engines. It’s important to have a solid site structure with only relevant pages. Any pages that are no longer relevant should be removed and fixed with a redirect. The bigger a website, the more impact speed optimisations will have as crawl rate will improve. This means that the easier you make it for bots, the quicker they can scan your site and record their results.
Fast loading sites also have higher conversion rates and lower bounce rates. So if you can ensure your site loads quickly, visitors will spend more time there. This is particularly important for e-commerce, where visitors are likely to hit the back button if a site is taking a long time to load, which means that you have lost a visitor who will likely turn to a competitor’s site to find what they are looking for. A quick and responsive website also helps your business to build credibility and loyalty.
How to Optimise Your Website’s Speed
There are a number of site speed test tools that can be useful for checking and optimising your site. While these tools are useful, however, it’s important not to get too focused on scores and metrics. Every user has different browsing habits and may use a different Internet connection, device and browser. The best way to optimise the speed of your site is to find out who your users are, how they are accessing your site, and how they interact with it. PageSpeed Insights, WebPageTest.org and Lighthouse are all great for giving you a wider picture of the speed issues on your website. They provide recommendations that can be really useful in starting to improve your site speed.
Site speed recommendations can, however, be difficult to implement; particularly for those who are not familiar with websites and how they work technically. It may be necessary to enlist the help of a technical SEO expert to improve your site’s speed.
Get in touch with Digital Squad for more useful SEO tips, or advice on boosting your search engine results. As a leading SEO agency Auckland, we can help you see scalable growth and boost ROI.