The Importance of Page Load Time for SEO
Google mission is “to organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. However, in recent years it has become increasingly clear that the world’s number one search engine wants you to have this information… fast!
So how do we know that page load time is important to Google:
- Google provides visualisation of your websites “performance” (or page loading speed) within webmaster tools.
- It developed page speed extensions for Firefox and Chrome to analyze web page load issues and help webmasters improve the load time of their websites.
- It then offered webmasters Page Speed Online, a web-based tool that allows users to analyze pages at any time, in any browser, without downloading an extension.
- It launched Google instant and claimed (with brimming pride) that this new search feature will save people an average of 2-5 seconds per search.
- Most recently, Google has introduced the Page Speed Family, a whole plethora of web developer tools to allow developers to analyze their performance issues while developing web pages.
Google hasn’t gone to all of this effort just to provide webmasters with some nice graphics and charts to highlight issues on their websites without expecting something back.
In fact, in April 2010, Google stated on their webmaster tools blog that site speed was a new factor within their search ranking algorithms. Faster sites = better user experience, and this is what Google prides itself on delivering.
How to improve your websites load time for SEO benefits
There are a countless ways to improve the load time of your web pages to impress Google and your visitors.
Changing your web hosting solution from a shared option to a VPS (which this site is hosted on) or a dedicated server can make significant improvements to your load time without having to change a single line of code. By making the switch you avoid having to share resources with 100’s or 1,000’s of other websites on the same shared web server.
For onsite improvements, the best place to start to look for recommendations is within the results of the two main page speed browser plugins; Google Page Speed and Yahoo! YSlow.
Both of these extensions analyze your web pages and suggest ways to improve their performance based on a set of rules for high performance web pages. Use the results to identify ways of choosing the correct image file type, compressing your code and file sizes, and caching your webpages.
For more advanced tactics I would suggest you take a look at the following two articles. They describe some amazing techniques which you can employ to ensure your website loads faster than your competition and give you an edge in the search engine optimization page load time battle!
A faster page load time doesn’t just bring SEO benefits
With over 200 different parts of the Google search ranking algorithm webmasters can sometimes focus more predominantly on title tag alterations, keyword density changes, inbound link campaigns, and other very well-known SEO tactics.
However, a faster loading website brings with it a clearly better user experience. That better user experience brings with it significant bottom line rewards. Countless case studies and experiments have been conducted to analyze how page load time affects the bottom line. Amazon.com increased its revenue by 1% for every 100 milliseconds of load time improvement and Aol reported that its users in the top 10% of site speed viewed around 50% more pages than visitors in the bottom 10%.
Overall it should be glaringly obvious that a focus on improving page load time should be one of the highest things on the to-do-list of any webmaster or online marketer. For those of you who need a bit more convincing (or those of you who just love stats) here is a great infographic which details how loading time affects your bottom line.