How Important is Website Speed to SEO?
One of the most important factors in how your website ranks is the speed in which the site downloads to your computer or device.
Website speed is a factor that many people do not consider until they see how slow a site is to load. When you consider just how many people will not wait for a site to fully download after just a few seconds, you can see the relevance in having a fast download speed.
Studies have shown that increasing your website speed by just 0.1% may increase sales by up to 8%. That is why having a website that downloads fast is so important. It is considered a basic part of the user experience to your website.
What is Considered the Best Download Speed?
Instantaneous is probably the answer you might see most often, but no website downloads that fast. The general answer is no more that a couple of seconds. Given the speed in which people expect a website to download is becoming faster by the year. If you remember dial-up internet from 20 years ago, expectations were much slower back then. Today, dial-up is a thing of the past and so is waiting several seconds or longer for a site to download.
You can use your own experience in waiting for a site to download as a good benchmark. The longer you have to wait, the more likely you are to go somewhere else. This is not just a matter of convenience, but a slow download speed may be a sign that something is wrong with the website itself.
But why is your website not downloading as fast as it should? There may be different answers to that question, but the bottom line is that you will need to speed up your website to help generate more visitors and sales.
How Poor Download Speed Affects Your Website
You can consider the download speed the first impression your site gives to visitors. The better the first impression, the more likely they are to have a positive experience on your site. Consider that a fast download speed is an essential part of the user experience and sales conversion. It should be fast enough that no lag or downtime is noticed.
But if there is a lag in the speed of your website, then that is going to leave a poor first impression that stays with the visitor throughout their visit to your site. If this occurs again when going between pages, then you can almost count on the visitor going somewhere else. That means you lose more than a visitor. You lose a potential customer as well.
In terms of statistics, upwards of 79% of people who have a negative experience waiting on your website to download are less likely to make a purchase or make a repeat purchase if they have been a customer of yours.
But what is more important is a factor known as the bounce rate. The longer they have to wait for your site to download, the more likely they are to leave altogether before even seeing your website. It is estimated that nearly half of those who might visit your site will expect it to download in just two seconds or less. And 40% of all people will give up if your site takes longer than three seconds to download.
Fewer people sticking around means fewer page views and poor sales conversion rates. Delays in the download of the site itself or the pages of your site can cripple your chances of making a sale. In fact, you may never see that person again visiting your site after the poor experience they have experienced. And with the competition being so fierce, you can expect other sites to benefit.
Dominance of Mobile Devices
Today, more people search the web on their mobile devices compared to using computers. Google has responded by emphasizing a mobile-first approach in their search ranking system. The result is that the download speed is an even more important factor in terms of having your site ranked. A poor download speed for mobile devices, even if the speed is sufficient for computers, will still knock down the search rankings which affect your site.
If you are using SEO as part of your marketing efforts, then the download speed is a vital part of this marketing strategy. Even if you manage to keep more people at your site despite the poor download speed, fewer people will even know your site exists because of how it affect the page ranking.
Google ranks sites on their search result pages based on authority, relevancy, and overall quality. A poor download speed affects the quality of your site. This means that Google will drop it lower on the search rankings list even if all the other factors are quite positive.
How to Improve Website Download Speed?
Now that you know all the major factors that poor download speed can do to your site, the next question is what can you do about it?
The answer starts by assessing the download speed of your site on different devices. There are numerous tools available to check the download speed, but two of the most popular are PageSpeed Insights by Google and GTmetrix. Such tools can measure the download speed and provide suggestions on how they can be improved.
The three most common reasons why your website is not downloading as fast as it should include the following.
- Large Media Files
- Inadequate Servers
- Poorly Optimized Website
Shrink Media Files: The larger the file, the longer it takes to download. Look at the high-resolution images that you are using and shrink them in terms of their file size. Keep in mind that a lower-quality image may look the same as a higher-quality one depending on the screen being used. So, reduce the file sizes of all images and other media that is quite large to speed up the downloading process.
Change Web Host: It’s quite possible that the servers your website host is using are simply not up to the job. They may be overloaded or just out of date. If that is the case, then you should consider changing to a web host that does have fast servers which are properly optimized. You will need to do a little research, but the results will be well worth the effort.
Properly Optimize Your Website: If you have an older or clunky website, that may be the issue. You can have your website streamlined so that it functions more smoothly and is easier to download. In this regard, you may need a web designer or firm to do the job for you.
Why Speed Up Your Website Today?
If your site is experiencing slow download speeds it is imperative that you address the issue immediately. Website speed is one of the most controllable factors in the overall impression your website will make on potential customers. The longer you wait to address this issue, the more visitors and potential customers that you will lose.
The first step is to check the download speed of your website. Be sure to do so on both a computer and a mobile device. You should check from time to time, especially if you have recently uploaded new media files or have received comments about the slowness of your site. Once the issue is identified, you can take the proper steps to rectify the problem as quickly as possible.
Posted in the SEO blog category on October 5, 2021.