Google has indicated that site speed will be one of its ranking factors in the upcoming mobile-first index. But what does this mean? Well, it’s simple, you can no longer expect your slow loading website to rank high in the SERPs. If your website is slow, then search engines will only crawl fewer pages.
Recent research revealed that a website’s bounce rate increases by 32% when a page load time goes from 1s to 3s, and when it gets up to 5s, it increases the site’s bounce rate up to 90%.
For search engines, page speed is a sign of a healthy website and will help you retain more customers. You should carry out SEO and on page optimization tasks to increase your page speed because Google will reward you with a higher page rank.
Does Website Speed Affect Page Rank?
Google uses several factors in determining how to rank a website. Generally, these factors include different elements such as on page optimization, page speed, website relevance and many more.
So to get a higher ranking, you’ll need to make sure that your website loads in record time (1-3 seconds). But this isn’t the only reason to want a faster website. User experience can also be tainted by a slow website. So even if page ranking isn’t a major need for you (I fail to see why not!), customer satisfaction should be one of your priorities.
Imagine visiting a website for the first time that takes long to load or render images and videos? How frustrated will it make you feel? This is a common experience that causes many prospective customers to abandon a website and look elsewhere.
As search engines crawl your site less and less, and users bounce off because of the load time, your website will drop lower and lower in the SERPs. Finally, when your website disappears into the obscurity of result pages with double digits, so will your users and page rank. Page speed is definitely a major factor that can affect your visibility and revenue.
But what causes slow website speed?
Many people ask this question because they are hoping that slow speeds can be a quick fix. Sometimes it is, but in many cases, you’ll need to dig deep. Below are some of the key elements of your website that could cause it to load slowly.
Cascading Style Sheet (CSS)
The downside of CSS scripts is that they can slow down your page speed. When it is poorly delivered, a users browser has to download and process the style sheet data before displaying it to your visitors. This is why it’s critical to minify your CSS for better website performance.
Optimizing your images makes it load faster in your browser. For images, using a caching method is an effective way of optimizing your images. The key is to optimize your website images so that they reduce in size and not lose their visual quality.
Some websites redirect multiple times and can slow the overall load time of a website. When you have more than one redirect to your landing page, it will generally cause the page to load slower. A redirect will trigger an additional HTTP request and delay the request-response cycle.
No matter how optimized your website is, your server response time will ultimately dictate how fast your site is. If your server is experiencing a temporary lag, then a content delivery network (CDN) will come in handy.
Many skilled SEOs use a CDN to optimize page load times because it acts as an intermediary between site servers and visitors, using the website cache to deliver faster results.
With all the above factors, you can see that slow speeds can arise in almost any situation and requires continuous monitoring to ensure that all new content or scripts are optimized for better performance.