An SEO Guide to Page Loading Speed: Does It Matter & How Can You Improve?

How site speed and page loading impacts SEO (& how to improve it)

Although keyword research, content marketing and link building are the backbones of search engine optimization(SEO), site speed and page loading also play a significant role. Since 2009, Google has been using page loading speed as a major factor in its ranking algorithm.

Currently, Google is emphasizing even more on user experience, especially site speed and page loading to rank pages. This is one reason why digital marketers and web developers need to focus on speed optimization now more than ever.

Most digital marketers tend to concentrate more on the creative visual aspect of their websites – ignoring the vital technical side of the website. But failing to pay attention to the general responsiveness and performance of a website will not yield the results you seek.

If you don’t take action to improve on such technical issues such as slow loading time and page errors, then Google is likely to dock your sites in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and your traffic will suffer as a result.Whether you are a developer, content marketer or designer working on a site, you should ensure that your page loading and site speed metrics are fully optimized for search engines. If you haven’t already, we recommend using speed tools to determine your site’s speed performance.

Why site speed and page loading time matters

In a world that’s largely driven by technology, most online users expect websites to load quickly (less than 5 seconds). If your website moves slow, then users know they can go elsewhere.

Below are some eye-opening 2021 statistics about page speed performance:

  • Over 36 percent of users who visit your website bounce off if the page takes more than 5 seconds to load.
  • As of 2019, less than 20 percent of websites operated on standard page speed.
  • A delay of 1 second in loading a web page drops conversion rates by at least 7 percent.
  • Seventy percent of users say that the loading time of a website affects their decisions when it comes to online shopping.
  • Only 25 percent of businesses know how to monitor page speed.
  • Business owners who optimize their site speed are able to retain their clients at a rate of 68 percent.
  • Business websites that operate at the optimal page speed can increase their sales by 81 percent.

Best practices of page speed optimization

Aside from a user experience perspective, site speed also has a major role as far as SEO campaigns are concerned.

Considering the recent update of the search algorithm, site speed and page loading has become even a more important factor in search rankings. One recent update by Google means that slow pages can reduce your search rankings by up to 25 percent.Experts say that Google may be using the first byte when determining page speed. This automatically implies that when your web page is slow, its indexation will be negatively affected. This is because search engines normally crawl just a few pages.

Page speed test for desktop and mobile

The success of your digital marketing campaigns largely depends on how you evaluate the speed performance of your overall website.

Be sure that your website works perfectly on all devices—otherwise, your user experience will be negatively affected. In order to be sure about speed performance, conduct a speed test across all devices.

There are a number of tools available online that can be used to determine the speed performance of your website, but it’s important to select a tool that gives you insights for both desktop and mobile versions.

In most cases, you will see lower scores on the mobile page speed tests compared to those measuring the desktop version. While site audits are best for measuring low scores, bear in mind that this can also be a result of poor internet connection.

The ideal loading time for the mobile version should be 3 seconds or less. Conversely, your website shouldn’t take 2 or more seconds to load on a desktop device.

How to improve site speed and page loading

There are many ways to improve page speed performance. Here are some of the easiest and most effective strategies:

Tip #1: Diagnose your code

Developers often overlook the minor details while coding. It could be removing commas, spaces and any other irrelevant characters. Optimizing your code has the potential of significantly improving your page speed performance.Consider Google’s recommendations of using UglifyJS and CSSNano—tools that give you an opportunity to pick up and correct broken codes in your website’s backend.

Tip #2: Enable compression

Most developers today use Gzip to compress files. The software makes it easy for you to minimize the size of your CCS, JavaScript files and HTML with over 150 bytes. 

Michael Roderick, VP of Technology at SEO Advantage, Inc recommends “However, you should probably avoid gzipping your images.  Image formats used on the web are already quite compressed. Using compression, you are trying to save time delivering the content to the user. But images will not compress much further, and they also have to be decompressed on the client side (i.e. in your browser) – both steps take additional time which may end up being self-defeating.

Tip #3: Enable browser caching

Enabling caching can also increase the general browsing experience. By enabling browser caching, you set the system to store the visitor’s browser. This means they won’t have to request another HTTP when they visit your website again.

Tip #4: Minimize redirects

The number of redirects from your website also affects site speed and page loading. When a page is redirected to another page, it increases the loading time to your HTTP server.

Ready to tackle your website’s loading speed? Contact our team at Brown Bag Marketing today to let our team of digital marketing experts make your site the best (and fastest) it can be.