Page Load Times as an SEO Signal
If you have Google Analytics installed on your website, you’ll be able to view a report that gives the average page load times for the different pages on your site. This can be interesting reading, especially if you decide on a re-design.
Page load time is one of the signals Google uses to help generate a ranking position, at the moment it only generally affects 1% of websites. This may make you think that your sites page load times are unimportant. WRONG!
It’s wrong for 2 reasons, the first being that it is a ranking signal and, if you have a local competitor who regularly outranks you, tweaking your page load times can increase your rank in two ways.
- This may be a factor that your competitor does not pay attention to, so if all else is equal then this simple signal may be enough to put you above your competitor.
- Because the longer it takes to load a page, the less likely it is people will stay on the site, long load times can cause a higher bounce rate. That higher bounce rate will tend to make your site drop in rank. Therefore keeping load times shorter will encourage more people to stay on the site, which will decrease your bounce rate, which will in turn help to boost your rank.
By far the most important reason for paying attention to your site speed is conversion. You can have the most amazing and beautiful design, with all the bells and whistles you want but, if people don’t stay around long enough to interact with your site, then all that beauty and technology does you no good.
Take a look at Craig’s List, one of the most successful sites on the web, it’s design is so simple, boring even but, it does exactly what the owners want it to do. How about Wikipedia, yet another fairly boring design from the point of view of art, or brochure or corporate design. It’s just text, with a few, very few images here and there.
Yet no one would argue that it’s not a successful site. Look at the Google search page, a whole lot of blank white page with the search box in the middle, a little color from the the google logo and, tucked away at the top a nav bar. You’re never in any doubt about what Google wants you to do on that page.
Google is the most successful site on the web from the point of view of use, profitability and user experience (OK, they may be losing out a bit for some on customer experience because they’ve complicated some things).