How relevant is the speed of your website to modern SEO?
In recent times, both Google and Bing have made the speed in which your website loads a feature of its algorithms. It means that now your website can actually be penalised for not loading fast enough.
Google constantly compares your website with that of your competitors, and slower websites will inevitably not rate as highly. Google Chrome actually uses its browser to measure the loading speed of any website accessed and then records the findings. It then implements these search results and you will be moved higher or lower, partially based on the load times received.
An important factor to remember is that mobile site speed is also included in this rating.
How do I find out how fast my webpage is?
The easiest way to test the speed of a webpage is by using Google’s very own PageSpeed Insights: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ This tool will not only give you a ranking figure, specific to both desktop and mobile access, but will also make suggestions of potential factors you can change in order to improve the speed of your website.
The first, and most important positive of having a faster loading webpage is that it improves user experience. If a webpage is taking a long while to load, users on both desktops, and especially on mobile devices, are more likely to return to the previous page and possibly select an alternative website entirely. With Google adopting an increasingly more humanised approach with every algorithm adaptation, creating a genuinely beneficial and enjoyable experience is a modern priority and site speed contributes greatly to this.
A higher loading time has a strong positive correlation with percentage of abandonment rates. A site with a higher abandonment rates will lose ranking position. Furthermore, long loading times will not encourage a user to engage with further content on the page and could lead to a higher bounce rate; which again is detrimental to your rankings.
Some of the most effective ways of improving speed require a high level of knowledge about the process of building a webpage, and experts may have to be used to carry out these improvements, or at the very least consulted, which can result in cost implications.
Also, although site speed is part of the algorithms Google uses to determine rank, the search engine uses over 200 in total, and the speed of a website plays only a small part in that. Focusing too much attention on site speed as oppose to other SEO techniques, could potentially have a negative effect on your rankings.
There are a few simple measures that can be taken to improve webpage loading speed which don’t require someone with an expert level of knowledge. One of these applies if you use WordPress as a content management system. You can install a very simple plug in called ‘WP Smush’.
It is among the simplest to use and what the plugin does is reduces and compresses the size of your images as a whole. A reduced image size will help your page load faster. If you do not use WordPress, reducing image sizes is still an easy first step to a faster loading, more successful webpage.