Search engine optimization has truly evolved over the years. What once was a matter of unnaturally repeating keywords over and over again throughout one’s content is not the case anymore. Google aims to make searchers only get the best user experience through whatever device they are using the search engine from. Site speed is a critical component for ranking.
With Google concentrating on user experience, one of the most important ranking factors today is site speed. Site speed definitely has a huge impact on the overall user experience and is undeniably a significant aspect to look into. Google is serious in implementing this and ensures that slow-loading pages will definitely feel the effects of this update.
Whether it is for desktop or for mobile, businesses must make sure to go the direction of improving the speed of their website.
Site Speed and User Experience
Even before Google implemented site speed as a ranking factor, it is undeniable that page load speed was already vital. Google is currently highlighting the quality of a user’s search experience and it has been proven that site speed is one of the top indicators.
This being said, a page with great site speed gets more positive feedback while those that load slowly are more likely to be frowned upon. Studies have shown that pages that require a loading time of more than 3 seconds are more than likely to be clicked away from, resulting in high exit rates. Meanwhile, pages that load in less than 3 seconds enjoy the longer interaction with searchers, giving them a chance to have higher conversion rates as well.
Furthermore, past experiences with regards to a page’s load speed play a huge role in a user’s future use of a site. If a user had an experience of slow loading with your site, it is less likely for a user to give your site a second chance as they will have more affinity for sites that they have a great experience with in terms of speed.
This points out the huge difference that a few seconds in variation in loading a website can make. Both in the perceived overall quality of a site and a user’s feelings towards it. There are many more quality signals but perhaps the first that they experience is whether or not the page loads within their tolerable window. If it doesn’t load in time, all other factors like site design, ease of navigation, content quality, and more, almost do not matter. This is how important site speed really is.
Site Speed and Conversion
On the side of users, site speed affects their total experience on the website. It plays a great deal on nothing more but their feelings – their satisfaction.
But for you, the person or company who makes use of your website for business purposes, site speed is more than just about experience. The speed of your site has a huge say when it comes to the success of your business, especially if you are engaged in e-commerce.
Your page’s site speed directly affects your bounce rates. If your page fails to load within the tolerable time, then your target customers will likely exit your page even before you can present them with your products. On the other hand, if your page loads quickly enough, then your customers will be given the time you need to direct them to a sale.
It doesn’t end there yet as not all who do stay on your page would actually buy something. What is true though is that if there are already fewer people staying on your page, it means that there are fewer people who are likely to buy. In the end, site speed directly affects your conversion rates so give it the attention it deserves.
Note: Bounce rate is also a ranking factor so if you have a slow-loading page which results in high bounce rates, then you will have double the burn for it.
Site Speed and Mobile
You should also put into consideration the platforms for which your site can be accessed from. Websites perform differently when accessed from a desktop computer, and when accessed from handheld devices as there are differences in the hardware. You should consider the performance variations that different devices have.
Mobile phones may have evolved over time, but to a certain degree, are still different from desktop computers. The physical limitations that are present in mobile phones affect a site’s performance, including its load speed. That is why it is essential to put consideration on your website’s compatibility with mobile.
A site must also load quickly on mobile devices to make sure that you are able to optimize your mobile site. The effects are the same when a page loads slowly on a mobile phone and on a computer to make sure that you are able to ensure a decent load speed of your site on mobile devices.
Note: Compatibility with mobile is a ranking factor that has recently become huge. Optimizing your mobile site has never been this much important.
What to do now?
It is undeniable that site speed is very important. But what should you do about it?
First, assess how you are now when it comes to site speed. There are a bunch of free online tools that you can use to know your site’s speed performance. The best that you could use is the one from Google itself: Page Speed Online. It will not only tell your page’s speed but it can also suggest how you can improve it.
Then make sure you take the effort to improve your site’s speed. If your page load’s slowly, it is critical that you take measures to speed things up. But if your page loads fast enough, it won’t hurt to still try to improve it.
There are lots of ways to improve your site speed and some suggestions are the following:
- Minimize redirection from the landing page
In as much as possible, avoid landing page redirection because this adds unnecessary loading time.
- Keep your site light
Some sites make use of too much page elements that make it heavy which leads to longer loading time. Don’t dash your website with too many objects that may affect your load speed. Also, remove anything unnecessary such as redundant content.
- Optimize images
When there is a need for images, make sure that you optimize it a way that it remains manageable but without compromising quality.
A website’s speed has truly become an important aspect of search engine optimization to make sure that you give it the necessary attention and the needed effort. Page speed is just one criterion of what makes a decent website, but it has effects that extend to more than just that. So assess your site’s speed now, and commit to improving it.
Kenneth Sytian a web designer from the Philippines leading Sytian Productions. He has been designing websites and developing web apps for more than a decade. His no-nonsense approach to design coupled with his vast creativity is a winning combination for his clients.