How Important is Page Load Time to Google Ranking?

A fast website is not only beneficial in terms of the user experience, but also the search engine ranking for the site as well.

While most people take little note of pages that load quickly, they will remember pages that are loading slowly and will often leave before they are done. A fast page load is not only convenient, it also improves the traffic, bounce rate, and conversion rate statistics for your online business.

It is true that most online business owners are seeking out information about speeding up their websites primarily for search engine optimisation (SEO) reasons. However, just how much does page loading speed really matter in terms of SEO?

Speed Matters!

As many studies suggest, loading speed is a vital factor for SEO along with the user experience which goes hand-in-hand. The amount of time spent viewing a website, the number of pages visited, and the bounce rate rank just behind direct website visits which sits at the utmost importance for search engine ranking. If your website is seen as “slow”, then all three factors suffer which drives down the ranking of your website.

With Google focusing even more on the experience of each user as compared to backlinks for example, it has helped refocus the efforts of online business owners to excel at making their websites fast and easy to access. It’s not only the speed, but the bounce rate which is so vital towards keeping visitors on your site. Website engagement is a crucial factor in SEO and it reflects not only on the rankings, but also in the profits that you make.

The Page Speed Conundrum

With the statistics weighted towards page speed, it has led to an issue with how owners structure their sites. This is because so much emphasis is placed on page download speed, especially for rankings on the first page, that other factors such as overall quality of content tend to suffer. It’s as if Google is saying that website content is mostly the same with speed being the real difference.

The truth is more complicated than that as passable content gets mixed in with good to great content in terms of the speed issue. The question for online business owners is how much it is worth streamlining your site

Does Speed Matter So Much for SEO?

That will depend on several factors, but the most important will be how much should you invest to par down your website so that it downloads faster. While it is obvious that visitors should not wait too long, it may not be worth the difference in microseconds if it means downgrading the content.

But the real issue is about the user experience that turns visitors into customers. All the SEO benefits garnered from a higher search engine ranking will not mean much if the conversion rate does not change or worse, is lowered because of the changes that are made.

With the arrival of the Mobile Index, the emphasis on speed will be even greater, so online business owners will need to take that into consideration when augmenting their sites.