How page load speed could be affecting your rankings-min

How a slow page load speed could be affecting your rankings

In a world where we can order products online with same-day delivery and waiting for 10 minutes for the next train is an inconvenience, it’s safe to say that as a population we have grown to be inpatient.

We want everything, and we want it now. The need for speed is no different when it comes to using the Internet either. 

We’ve come a long way since the days of dial-up when the load speed of a website would depend on nobody using the landline to make phone calls, so much so, that in the age of 5G and fibre optic the ideal page load time is between just 2 to 5 seconds.

It’s critical that your website meets your customers growing expectations to have fast web experiences. If it doesn’t, customers will abandon your site and move on if there is too much friction and waiting time, which will ultimately possess a real threat to your businesses’ bottom-line.

The Internet has developed at a rapid rate over the last twenty years. It’s important that we keep up with new technologies and updates, or we may get left behind on page 2 of Google. As the joke goes, the best place to hide a dead body is on page 2 of Google because nobody goes there to find what they are looking for.

What is page speed, and how is it measured?

In the simplest sense of the term, page speed refers to how fast the content on any given website page loads. This speed is determined by several factors including the site’s server, poorly written or unnecessary code, redirects, page file size and image compression. All of these different factors affect the speed at which a page is delivered on both desktop and mobile.

Measuring page speed is sometimes not that straightforward as there are different metrics used. However, the two most common parameters are:

‘Page Load Time’ which refers to how long a single page on your website takes to display the content entirely.

‘Time to First Byte’ which refers to how long it takes a browser to receive the first byte of information from the web server during the loading process.

Other metrics include ‘start render’, ‘visually complete’, ‘document complete’, ‘number of file requests’ and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Google has not said which page speed metric they use in particular to form their algorithm, but since they give sites insight on all of them, it is likely that they use a combination of the different metrics. Therefore, brands want to make sure that they improve site performance across each area.

How page speed impacts your websites’ user experience

People want to be able to find answers to their questions as fast as possible, and studies have shown that every second counts as loading time is a major contributing factor to site abandonment; the longer users have to wait for a page to load, the more likely they are to leave the website altogether.

In a page load time study about the average website load speed conducted by Google, the data is telling that faster websites are more attractive and will keep visitors on the website for longer.

But even if visitors decide to wait it out and stay, they won’t have a pleasant experience either. When people have to wait for content, they switch their attention to the fact of waiting, not the task they want to complete and will naturally grow agitated as a result. People engage more with a site when they can move freely and focus on the content instead of on their wait time.

As a result, visitors are less likely to succeed in any difficult task, such as completing the process for a purchase, and the unexpected waiting will make users feel that they don’t have system control.

Does speed affect search engine rankings?

Did you know that Google updated its search algorithm over 3,200 last year? While the algorithm is constantly evolving being updated, page speed has continued to played a part in Google’s search ranking algorithms over the last ten years.

While it had been entirely focused on desktop searches since then, the tech giant released an update in 2018 which was coined ‘The Speed Update‘ which made site speed a significant ranking factor for mobile searches too. Meaning that search results on both mobile and desktop are both influenced by speed. 

Ultimately there are a variety of factors that determine where a website ranks in a search result, including the effective use of keywords, regular content being upload and metadata, to name a few elements. While the relevance of a page carries more weight than page speed, it’s still essential to ensure that your site speed isn’t holding you back.

Simply put, if your website isn’t on par with the ten organic pages on the first page of a search result, you won’t rank on this page where those featured enjoy a whopping 95% of all search traffic collectively. It’s vital to ensure your website is ticking all of these important SEO boxes.

Is your website slow?

Between trying to understand page speed metrics, the fear of decreasing traffic and conversions, and regular search engine updates that are filled with jargon; improving the speed of your website can be a minefield. 

At Barques, our SEO specialists will be able to identify what is slowing down your website and resolve any issues. If you’d like to know more, get in touch.