It was in April 2010 when Google made website speed as an official ranking factor. Google is not very particular in letting the public know what ranking factors they use. However, Matt Cutts, Google’s web spam team leader, chose to announce the change despite claiming that the change only affects less than 1% of the sites.
It goes to show that even Google recognizes the impact of page speed on search behaviors. As a matter of fact, Google intentionally slowed down its speed in a 2009 experiment by half a second ONLY, and yet search volumes were affected almost instantly. Slowed down from 400 to 100 milliseconds, the experiment showed a 0.2 to 0.4% decrease in searches. The result prompted the search giant to conclude that a slow site will see less engagement.
Such a conclusion still holds true today. Besides, who would want to explore a slow loading site? Definitely, not me and certainly, not you either.
Page loading time is a fundamental part of SEO. Based on Google’s experiment, we can also conclude that a slow loading site affects traffic, ranking and conversion altogether. Too bad, because it is also through SEO that a user finds your site and clicks on it only to find out that the page won’t load. Shame!
Now, let’s get into the hard facts…
- One second delay leads to 7% decline in conversion rate
- One second delay leads to 11% reduction in page views
- One second delay leads to 16% decline in customer satisfaction
- One second delay leads to up to $2.5 million in sales annually
- About 47% of online consumers expects a site to load in 2 seconds or less
- Nearly 80% of these online consumers will never return to that site
- Approximately 40% of users abandon a site that takes 3 seconds or more to load
- Roughly 1/3 of mobile users consider slow load time as the #1 issue
- Around 73% of mobile users have already encountered a slow loading site
- About 33% of these mobile users will visit the competitor’s site next
- An average Internet user perceives load time as 15% slower than its actual load time
- When the user tells the experience to others, he will remember 35% slower than the actual page load speed
After looking at these facts and stats and knowing how speed can affect the bottom-line, we should consider these SEO opportunities.
Information is consumed on-the-go
Our browsing experience had changed dramatically. Mobile it is, and mobile it will always be at least for most of us. Improving page speed leads to better content engagement thus getting more value and conversions from the target audience. Have your target market take your contents with them wherever they go by making it more accessible speed-wise. The more people who get to see and share your content, the better your ranking will be.
Quality scores drive CPC (cost per click)
Speed is a component of the user’s landing page experience. Landing pages that loads faster leads to better quality score. Essentially, loading speed lowers the overall marketing cost. Better page load speed leads to better quality score, and better quality score leads to more efficient spending and more reach. Cut your marketing costs by accelerating website page load time. With this, your quality scores will increase as well as your ranking.
Page speed affects organic ranking
Page load time is not a huge ranking factor, but it is still an important one. For instance, if your website has an equal authority or relevance with your competitor, Google will use page load time as the deciding factor when ranking both sites. Consider website speed as a competitive advantage so the site will rank better especially in your most important keywords.
Here’s the key takeaway of the figures noted above. In the last 20 years or so, website developers are increasingly creating larger, more complex websites. However, online users increasingly expect websites must load faster.
So, okay, page load time doesn’t always affect the ranking of a site. Not directly. When it does, however, the effects will be significant. It will definitely be a great idea to dedicate some of your SEO optimization time to speed up your site. Page speed is a ranking factor that you have total control of, so better optimize such a factor along with optimizing for other more important factor as quality contents.
Once you improved your site’s speed, you will experience…
- Improved ranking of your top 10 keywords just like smartfurniture.com
- Improved traffic growth by 40% just like workcoachcafe.com
- Increased page views by 25% and revenue by 7-12% just like shopzilla.com
Not convincing enough? Perhaps, these questions will do the trick. Have you seen a site that takes forever to load? Did you abandon the site as quickly as you can? Did you visit the competitor’s site after abandoning the site? If Yes, Yes and Yes are your answers, chances are, your prospects and customers have also done so!
Businesses are tapping the digital world, making huge investments on contents. What’s the point of doing so if the contents take excessively long to load? Regardless of how faulty our time perceptions are, we should start making our sites more search engine- and user-friendly by optimizing its speed. Don’t forget M-U-O to rank higher on search engines. Measure the speed. Upgrade the server. Optimize the files and codes.