Let’s face it, good SEO experts analyze every aspect of a website.
Sometimes SEO experts are going really far and tend to be nitpicky.
I personally know a lot of guys who are obsessed with checking their website speed each and every day. As if small fluctuations can hurt you that bad.
The main question here is how important is website speed? Should you constantly check it?
Like with Domain Authority, Domain Rating, LRT Trust or some other SEO metric, we like to see our website grow.
This is why most SEO experts have such an obsessive behavior.
Unfortunately, fluctuations do not occur so often for us to regularly check the website.
Google’s stance on website speed
Google announced in 2010 that website speed will be a ranking factor. Since then, website owners started paying extra attention to this performance data.
You cannot falter their logic: website speed makes browsing quicker and improves user experience.
In a world where quick info is paramount, split second can make a difference.
I will talk about user engagement later on so stick with me.
Website speed is especially important in this new era of SEO where most users access the Internet through their mobile device.
Browsing can be done while waiting on the traffic light to turn green or while waiting for your bus.
Occasionally, you might require a quick info where precisely your restaurant is and what do they have on their menu.
Like our life, website speed had to increase so that it can keep up with the pace.
Is low website speed harmful to your website?
It is 2017.
If you’re website is too slow, you probably should shut down your web based company.
However, there are still those who have slow website speed.
Back in 2010 only 1 % of total results got penalized for this reason. When talking about percentages it definitely looks negligible.
Still, a lot of bloggers lose their rankings and eventually stop their project due to this small mistake.
Website speed is like money: it isn’t so great when you have it as it is bad when you don’t.
In a way, you should observe website speed as prerequisite for doing your business.
Without it, you would be dead in the water.
It also makes sense why Google doesn’t give distinctive advantage to websites that are really quick.
Millisecond difference won’t do anything for a user.
Your website is either fast or it isn’t.
As such, website speed as a ranking factor doesn’t and shouldn’t have bigger role than it currently has.
How does website speed impact user experience?
As I mentioned, most of the website nowadays is really fast. This has become a standard.
Fast loading of pages is especially important today as younger generations are impatient and are used to have everything right in this second.
Even though general blogs will always be quick enough, there are certain types of websites that load slower due to heavy images, videos or other content.
I am mainly referring to streaming domains and other domains that provide live content.
These types of websites have to pay extra attention to this article as their livelihood can depend on it.
Page speed is also important for e-commerce websites such as online shops.
Here is why:
- Internet shopping is basically a process of quickly browsing the web in order to find the lowest prices. If a person lands on your website and one of the pages loads slowly, they will instantly close the window and choose the next destination. Competition is huge and nobody will wait for you.
- People are always skeptic when they visit a brand new web shop. Their whole experience will be impacted by numerous things one of which is site speed. If your pages are loading slowly, this can build mistrust. Worst case scenario? The visitor may think that your website is a hoax.
But let’s talk numbers.
We are still talking too much about theory not discussing practical situations.
Back in the day, Walmart discovered they are one of the fastest retail websites. They wanted to improve their speed even further.
Here is what happened:
- Every second of speed improvement led to a 2% increase in conversions
- Every 100 ms of website speed improvement resulted in incremental revenue going up by 1%
Although this small increase didn’t have such a strong direct impact on search engine optimization and rankings, it did wonders for conversion.
Users obviously care!
Lastly, I need to mention this.
Google will not give you a big ranking boost for improving your speed as we discussed previously.
But, a faster website will have a great secondary effect.
It will build trust between you and your visitors resulting in people spending more time on your website and browsing more.
Have in mind that today more than ever, user engagement factors are very important.
It is no longer enough to have lots of traffic. You need to have high quality traffic and website speed can help you with that.
You might see an increase in rankings due to higher website speed. But do not be fooled!
This isn’t because Google decided to help you out; it is because users found your website to be useful and created a secondary effect.
What is the main reason for low website speed?
There are in fact several factors that have to be considered.
Each one of them has its weigh and while most of the things may be properly done, one small mistake can pull down the whole speed of the site.
You need to be mindful of:
- Internet provider – There is a good reason why some hosting plans are so expensive. In certain cases, you might be even on the same IP together with numerous other website losing considerable speed along the way. Best way to remedy the issue is by getting a dedicated IP at a reputable host. Have in mind there are various schemes when it comes to hosting so cheap price is usually a result of poor service
- Browser – Different browsers behave differently when it comes to websites. While you may have great performance on one, it can be disastrous on another. Always make sure you’ve tested your site on all the popular internet browsers
- Theme – Complex themes can pose a problem with speed. Make sure to focus on your content, services and products you can provide to your visitors instead
- Apps, plugins and widgets – When it comes to plugins, widgets and apps, they will additionally lower your page speed. Make sure to optimize them as much as you can or even remove them if they serve no purpose. Although you will definitely need some stuff such as social buttons, make sure to use them properly and in moderation
- Ads – As you can presume, anything on your pages can affect their page speed. Ads are notorious for this. Besides the fact that they will directly impact your web speed and indirectly user experience, having too many ads can be a problem for your SEO. Moreover, they can even lead to a Google penalty. Put adds only if you can make good profit on them and don’t overdo it
- Images – High resolution images require a lot of time to load. Whenever you can, compress them as much as you can without risking their quality. Try focusing on JPEG format
- Videos – Same thing as with images. Videos can help your content but lower your page speed because they are heavy
- Code – Like with anything else, it is necessary to optimize your website code. Shorter code without long lines with JS and CSS will help you improve your site speed immensely.
How to solve your speed issues?
Website speed is catch 22.
I already said that websites with live videos and lots of images can have enormous issues with load time.
This is one of the reasons why Niksto.com has such a simplistic design. This way I can focus on great content and actionable tips and tricks that can help my readers.
Of course, it would be ludicrous to say that you should completely disregard videos and pics.
If you truly want to address the issue, here are the steps you need to take:
- First you need to find a good hosting provider. Pay more if needed. This will create a foundation upon which you will build your website. Have in mind that any switch of a provider can have a slightly negative impact on your rankings by temporary lowering them. So, make sure to find a good provider and stick with it
- Coding is the second piece of the speed puzzle. Your designer or programmer, who will create your site, must be proficient. Make sure to find a good balance. Same goes for themes and everything else that is static on your pages
- Next, you need to consider your content strategy. Do you wish to make impact through videos and images or to improve user experience and focus on textual content? Content can vary from page to page. This way, you can try out different things and see how they perform. Unlike website architecture, theme and hosting, this is something you can easily change whenever you wish so
- If your website is rather new, there is no real reason to put ads on it. In most cases new websites do not get enough traffic. Instead of trying to capitalize, it is much better to focus on your website growth. Once you reach certain point, it won’t be a problem to add some ads too. Still you should never overdo it
Best way to tackle the issue is to build a strong foundation that will be able to facilitate high website speed. When it comes to individual pages, you can tinker a bit.
Like many other ranking factors of today, website speed has both primary and secondary effect.
In this case the secondary effect is usually much more impactful on your SEO. It is not Google who will cause the issue; your visitors are the ones who will.
With high site speed you make sure your visitors stick around.
More importantly, it is something that can increase your commercial conversion.
How fast is your website? Have you tried different approaches to increasing your page speed? Share it in the comment section below!