Page loading speed is the total length of time that it takes for a website to load completely. With regard to effective SEO, page loading speed is crucial. If your website does not load quickly, visitors to your site are likely to leave rather than wait for it to load, and search engines will penalise your site’s rank if it performs poorly. Page loading speed affects more than SEO. A website that loads quickly will experience both a better conversion rate and a better user experience (UX), thereby making it more likely that visitors will continue to visit your site.
In its guidance to webmasters, Google explains how important page loading speed is for SEO. While Google considers a lot of factors in determining where a site ranks in a search, if your site loads significantly slower than your competition, your site will receive a lower ranking. Google allocates a relatively short amount of time to crawl and index a page, analyse the results, and rank the site. If your website loads slowly, Google will not have sufficient time to review your entire site and will base its ranking on only a partial view. The shortened review could have a very adverse impact on your search rank and the amount of organic traffic that you receive.
Slow page loading also adversely impacts your UX. About 40% of desktop users will abandon a site if it takes more than three seconds to fully load, and a whopping 72% of mobile users will abandon a website if it takes more than five seconds to load. If many potential visitors are abandoning your site before they actually view a single page, you are undermining any other SEO strategies that you may have implemented.
There are many reasons why your site may load slowly. Even if your site code is clean and well written, these factors could be slowing down your site:
- Complicated themes. Special graphics may make your site look attractive, but this is one of the main reasons why websites load slowly. Before you go live with special graphics, conduct A/B testing to see what their implementation would do to your page loading time.
- Unresponsive plug-ins. If you have not optimised the plug-ins that you use on your site, your site’s performance will suffer. Always optimise your plug-ins, and be sure that you only use plug-ins that are essential for your site.
- Embedded media. Including video clips on your site can certainly make it look more attractive to visitors, but it is also an excellent way to slow down your site. Consider providing your visitors with links to video content rather than embedding it.
- Inexpensive web hosts. The adage is true – you get what you pay for. Sure, you want to keep your operating costs down, but often an inexpensive web host provides a low quality service and can contribute to slow page loading times.
- Excessive redirects. Too many redirects can slow down your website and can become especially problematic for mobile visitors to your site.
Improving your page loading speed is an excellent SEO technique that both your customers and search engines will appreciate. Using a tool such as StatusCake page speed monitoring enables you to find out exactly where those roadblocks are that are slowing down your page loading.