How Important Is Site Speed When Ranking On Google?

In July 2018, search engine giant Google announced they would officially consider site speed on mobile devices as a ranking factor. Since then, it has become more important than ever for webmasters to prepare their sites for the recommended less than 5-second loading time.

Studies show that bounce rates grow for every millisecond over the consumer-demanded 2-3 seconds. Whether considering the help of a London web development agency, or still learning the ropes of SEO and Google’s demands, the following article describes why site speed really does matter for rankings.

traffic congestion and site speed. Image by Erich Westendarp from Pixabay
Traffic congestion. Image by Erich Westendarp from Pixabay

Site Speed Does Affect Ranking

As mentioned before, in 2018, Google officially made site speed a ranking factor for both desktop and mobile. Slowness would soon become detrimental to the success of a page in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). While things like page quality, E-A-T (expertise, authority, trustworthiness) and freshness have all demanded web developers’ attention in recent months following the March 2019 Core Algorithm Update and the June 2019 Core Algorithm Update, site speed remains a factor that can’t be overlooked. From optimising images and visual content on the site to introducing lazy loading, several different approaches can help to speed up a website.

Why Webmasters Are Rushing To Speed Up

While site speed is a key ranking factor, it also offers additional benefits to not only the company in question but to the consumers visiting the website. It helps make a good first impression, enables faster crawling throughout the website and reduces bounce rate:

Reduced Bounce Rate

When consumers search online, they are usually seeking fast answers to queries or a quick solution to a product they’re looking to buy or sign up for. Today’s society is fast, and any website that appears slow will often develop a much higher bounce rate, simply because consumers lose patience quickly. With Google’s SERPs layout making it easier to click out and into an alternative website, brands and businesses can lose out on potential customers, simply because their website takes longer to load.

By taking steps to reduce site speed, webmasters and business owners alike can reduce the number of visitors likely to click away from their website. Retaining visitor attention for longer helps improve overall session times and traffic volumes.

Great First Impression

User experience (UX) should always be a core driving force for any business and site speed factors into this. UX is about crafting a seamless experience that offers ease of access to all visitors that come to the website. First impressions matter and if visitors can’t even load the homepage enough to be able to see what the business can offer, this opportunity will be missed.

Slow-loading websites can give the illusion of a lack of security and, in a lot of cases, can even make it look untrustworthy. Every visitor to a website will be looking for something, so it’s important to make sure that the design and site loading speed is quick and simple enough to capture this intent.

Fast Site Speed Means Easier To Crawl

With a fast, easily navigable website, Google’s bots stand a better chance at crawling every page available to be indexed, in a much shorter amount of time. If changes are regularly made to the website, fast site speed will ensure that bots can not only crawl it once but that the crawl budget can be maximised for any additional updates made to design or content.

If Google takes a long time to crawl a website, visitors will also suffer the same downfall. By paying attention to how Google interacts with a website and it’s content, webmasters can better determine just how their consumers will also interact.

Google’s SERPs are changing, with ranking factors leaning further and further towards a high-quality and valuable experience for all of its visitors. This, of course, translates to the websites that it indexes. For businesses with slow websites, they can lose out on conversion rates and fail to adhere to user experience demands which, ultimately, turns Google away.

In this way, google acts as a proxy for visitors. Webmasters should understand that what is good for their users is good for google, and put visitors first.

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Robert Costello

Robert Costello is a British writer who reports on business topics of interest. To get himself started every morning, he completes a crossword while eating breakfast.