Site Speed Effects UX And Rankings
For quite some time Google has been informing the public that site load speed is a ranking factor. The problem is a lot of site owners have no clue how to speed up their site. In this short article we'll cover a few actionable tips to get your site up to speed and better rankings.
In our last post under the web design topic, we wrote about how using a CDN can help speed up your site. Because site speed is so important to both rankings and UX, we thought we would expand further on site speed. Honestly, we could have put this post under the local seo blog because of the ranking factor, but since it's a little more technical, we opted to place it under the website building, design and development category.
First up, lets just cover the FACT that site speed IS a ranking factor to Google. They actually made this public statement about site speed and rankings:
That article is straight from Google's Webmaster Central Blog - all the way back in April of 2010, over 7 years ago! Now that can put to rest any doubt about site speed and it's effect on rankings :)
UX Site Speed And Bounce Rate
A lot of people don't realize how site speed and UX tie together for rankings. If someone clicks a link to your site and it takes more than a few seconds to load, most people just hit the back button to look elsewhere for the information they are hunting. This actually counts against you twice.
The first is obvious, you have lost a customer to someone else. The second is that to the search engines, you are giving a negative bounce signal, which means the person performing the search wasn't given the info they were searching for on your site and decided to search elsewhere. That negative bounce signal can be increased if you are using Google Analytics on your site.
How Do You Speed Up Your Site?
There are a lot of things that come into play when it comes to how fast your website loads. The first that we have mentioned before is where your website is hosted. Where your website is hosted alone can make a HUGE difference in page load time. Cheap shared hosting just won't cut it. We feel that hosting is such a big issue we will cover it more in depth in an up coming post.
There's a whole slew of things in the backend of your website to help improve performance. David Manng just wrote a post today that gives great info about how to get more speed out of your site and a few of the techniques that we also use for our customers site's:
David gives a lot of great tips in the article. One of the biggest speed factors that we see for clients that come to us with an existing website is the point he makes about images. We would add that proper image size is also important, especially if your are using WordPress. Many times we see on site pages an image that is 400x400 pixels, but then when the media library is inspected the image is a whopping 1500x1500. Now WordPress is being slowed down by having to resize these images while loading.
In David's article he also recommends GTMetrix and Google's tool for checking site speed. We found another speed tool that we like - https://tools.pingdom.com
Good News For WordPress Users!
A lot of David's tips from above can be difficult to achieve for newbies. We actually ran across an article from WPMUDEV about the new release of a plugin that can help with solving site speed problems:
This looks really promising, while we will have to do some testing on a few of our own sites to make sure it does what it says it will and doesn't break sites. We do have to admit that we were a little confused by the name "Hummingbird", thinking that it was going to be something that talked too, or tickled Google's Hummingbird update.
Summing It Up
If you have been ignoring how fast your site loads, you better start giving it some thought now and taking action. Even if you aren't driving traffic from Google, but social media or other avenues, visitors to your site will not tolerate slow loading sites. We've given you a few actionable tips through a couple of trusted sources to help get the job done. One word of caution, before making any changes to your site - MAKE A BACKUP of your site, just in case things go wrong.
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