SEO explained: here’s how site speed affects SEO

Steven Mike Voser
Steven Mike Voser
I
In mid-2018, Google announced its latest algorithms would now take site speed into consideration when ranking sites for mobile. In this article, we'll take a closer look at how site speed affects SEO and share some simple tips for improving your site/page speed.
Reading Time: 4 minutes

There are many different factors that can affect your ranking in Google Search. And as the digital world continues to evolve, site speed is becoming ever more important for SEO. Read on for a closer look at site speed and how it can affect how well you rank in Google and other search engines.

 

THE GOOGLE SPEED UPDATE: JULY 2018

Halfway through 2018, Google made a big announcement; its latest algorithm will now consider site speed when ranking pages in its mobile search results. The company coined this announcement its “Speed Update”. Google clarified that it wasn’t rewarding sites that had the fastest load times. Instead, the algorithm was designed more to penalise those sites that offer excruciatingly slow speeds. Google also clarified that site speed wasn’t everything, and slower sites still had the possibility to outrank faster sites if they were more relevant to the search query. If you’re wondering why Google would bother taking site speed into account for its rankings, the answer is simple; slower sites offer a poorer user experience.

 

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USER EXPERIENCE: THE KEY TO SEO

The SEO landscape has changed immensely over the last couple of years. Today, ranking well in Google no longer comes down to just how many times you can stick a keyword into a single webpage. Instead, SEO is all about user experience. And it’s not hard to see why. Ask yourself, what is Google’s ultimate goal? The answer; to provide us with the best-quality search results for our queries. And the best way to do that is to focus on the end user experience instead of metrics like keyword density and alt-text quality (which a webmaster can easily manipulate). In order to provide the best possible search results to users, Google and other search engines have moved away from these old metrics, instead placing an emphasis on things like bounce rate, internal/external links, content quality, and, as of this year, site speed.

It’s simple; users expect your site to load quickly. Why? Because we now consume in a highly competitive, on-demand marketplace. For your customers, interruptions to their ability to interact with your site are extremely frustrating and have the potential of ruining your chance to sell to them. But where does this desire for speed and immediacy come from? Well, the age of digital consumption has really changed the way we buy. The growth of mobile technology has taught us that we can have almost anything within seconds, simply by searching for it online. And if your site can’t keep up, your customers will be moving on.

 

And if your site can’t keep up, your customers will be moving on.

 

HOW TO IMPROVE SITE SPEED FOR BETTER SEO

If you haven’t optimised your site speed yet, it’s high time you do so. Here are some simple tips:

 

1: OPTIMISE YOUR CODE

Regardless of whether you use JavaScript, HTML, or CSS, optimising your code is one of the best ways to increase site speed. To do so, go over your entire site code and look for extra characters, long path codes, unnecessary pieces of code, spaces, etc. Finally, also remove any unnecessary code comments, as they can bring down your overall site speed.

 

2: COMPRESS FILES OVER 150 BYTES

Large coding files are another major culprit of slow site speeds. Luckily, you can use compression software to reduce their size.

 

3: ACTIVATE AMP

Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages project is, as the name suggests, designed to help give mobile sites a speed boost. AMP is an open-source project and available to all mobile sites. To find out how to implement it, click here.

 

Running redirects is a great way to correctly direct traffic around your site.

 

4: REDUCE PAGE REDIRECTIONS

Running redirects is a great way to correctly direct traffic around your site. However, every time a user is redirected, they also spend valuable seconds waiting for the redirect to be confirmed and processed. Make sure to review your redirects (especially for your mobile site) and cut out any unnecessary ones immediately.

 

5: MASTER CACHING

Cache is a great tool because it allows some of your site information to be archived so that when a user revisits your site, their browser doesn’t have to load the entire page. To optimise your site speed for SEO, go over your cache settings and remember to cache as many items as possible for as long as possible (1-year cache settings are pretty standard for sites that don’t change dramatically).

 

6: CHECK YOUR IMAGE SIZES

Cramming your pages with full, high-res images is one surefire way to bring down your site/page speed. Remember, most sites won’t need full high-res imagery. This is especially true for mobile. Make sure to go through the JPG and PNG files on your site and compress them to maximise your site’s speed.

 

7: TRY A CDN

CDNs, or content delivery networks, are another great tool for improving your site speed. CDNs operate by sharing the workload of delivering a webpage’s content across multiple networks of servers.

 

REMEMBER: GOOGLE WANTS A FASTER WEB

Your best bet at leveraging your SEO efforts is to remember that Google and other search engines really only want one thing: to provide the best possible user experience. Site/page speed plays a key role in our online experience, and you should always aim to run the fastest, most efficient site possible.