5 Reasons Why Web Page Speed Impacts Website SEO Rankings & Conversions

Your website page speed matters. Most websites today lose more than 50% of their visitors because they take too long to load.

That’s a significant number of lost customers and sales.

In addition, Google has added a Page Experience Update that will be rolled out by August 2021. This update considers website page speed and user experience to determine SEO rankings.

Most people browse the web on their mobile devices and expect instant access to online information. No one is prepared to wait for more than a few seconds for a web page to load.

In today’s mobile-first world, the page speed of a website has become very important for customer retention, SEO rankings, overall customer experience and sales.

Why Is Page Speed So Important For Your Business Website?

The page speed of your website can significantly impact customer conversions, user experience, sales and SEO rankings.

Web page speed is described as the “page load time” – the total time it takes for the content of a web page to display completely on your browser.

All the marketing efforts that go into attracting customers to your website are a wasted effort if customers leave your website immediately because it took too long for the web page to load.

1. Fast Page Speed Increases Customer Retention, Conversions and Sales

Users expect websites to load fast, really fast or they will click away to the next site. This is true whether we are accessing a website from our mobile devices or desktop computers.

According to Google research:

53% of mobile site visitors will leave a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load

The recommended values for page speed and page size are:

  • Average page speed should be 3 seconds or less
  • Web page size should be 500KB or less

When visitors click on your website, they will need to stay on your website long enough until the web page loads completely before they can engage with your site.

A fast loading web page will keep the visitor on the website to read about your products and services, or shop online. Increased visitor engagement will lead to increased conversions, leads and sales.

A fast page speed is very important for e-commerce sites as it directly impacts revenues. Studies have shown that as page load speed has increased, sales and revenues have increased.

Large sites like Amazon.com have impressive page load speeds of under 3 seconds. The Amazon.com home page with all its images and content loads in under 3 seconds.

Your website page speed should be 3 seconds or less and page size should be 500K or less. Page speed has to be kept near optimum levels to keep visitors from abandoning your website.

2. Slow Page Speed Causes Increased Bounce Rates as Visitors Abandon the Site

If your web page loads slowly, the visitor will get impatient and click away to another site and never return again. This results in a bad user experience that could have been easily remedied by ensuring that the web page loaded fast.

When a web page takes too long to load, the visitor will immediately leave the site or “bounce”.

Bounce rate is defined as the percentage of visitors to your website who leave after viewing a single web page.

The bounce rate of your website is shown on your Google Analytics reports.

According to research done by Google/ SOASTA on Mobile Page Speed, the visitor bounce rate increases as page load time goes from 1 sec to 10 seconds.

  • As page load time increases from 1s to 3s, the bounce rate increases by 32%
  • As page load time goes from 1s to 5s, the bounce rate increases by 90%
  • As page load time goes from 1s to 6s, the bounce rate increases by 106%
  • As page load time goes from 1s to 10s, the bounce rate increases by 123%

The visitor bounce rate is important because it is evaluated by search engines when determining the search or SEO rankings for your website. A high bounce rate can cause your SEO rankings to decrease. It is important to keep the bounce rate on your website very low.

Improving page load speed can reduce the bounce rate by ensuring that web pages load fast and you don’t lose visitors. This keeps visitors on your website and increases the time they spend on your site (time on site). This increases the chances that they will convert to customers.

You can also increase visitor engagement by providing valuable and informative content or a blog on your website. Adding internal links in your content that link to related topics can help to keep the visitor moving to other pages on your site and engage them on your website for a longer time.

3. Page Speed is a Search Ranking Factor That Impacts Your SEO rankings

Improving the page speed on your website should be part of your SEO(search engine optimization) strategy. Page speed is a ranking factor that will impact your website search rankings on Google and other search engines.

Search engines evaluate statistics like customer engagement, time on site and bounce rate to determine SEO rankings of websites. Google has about 200 search ranking factors to determine website search rankings.

In 2010, Google announced that Site Speed is a new ranking factor that will impact SEO rankings. In addition to site speed, Google advised website owners to focus on website quality and relevance. This site speed update was focused on desktop sites.

In January 2018, Google announced the new ”Speed Update” on the Webmaster Central Blog which will be focused on mobile searches.

Starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches and will impact the SEO rankings of mobile websites.

According to Google, the “Speed Update” will only affect websites that deliver a very slow experience to users and should affect only a small number of sites. Since they use “search intent” as a strong ranking signal for SEO, a slow web page may still rank well if it has relevant content.

Page speed is also an important consideration for user experience. Customers expect web pages to load fast so that they can quickly look for information or make purchases.

In June 2021, Google began rolling out the Page Experience Update which evaluates website user experience to determine SEO rankings of websites. Page speed is an important factor in this update.

Fast page speed can have the following positive impacts on SEO rankings:

  • Improves Desktop SEO rankings of your desktop website
  • Improves Mobile SEO rankings of your mobile website
  • Decreases bounce rates which helps improve SEO rankings
  • Increases customer engagement & time on site which helps improve SEO rankings

Web pages that have high SEO rankings on Google search results pages have a higher visitor click-through-rate and visitor engagement.

According to the Searchmetrics 2016 Rebooting Ranking Factors Study,

  • Pages in positions 1-3 on the search results pages have a click-through-rate or CTR of 36%
  • The average time on site for the top 10 URLs on the search rankings is 3 minutes, 10 seconds

You can use your Google Analytics reports to view website performance like the bounce rate and time on site. Once you identify the web pages with problems, you can improve the pages that have high bounce rates.

4. Mobile Page Speed – Mobile Users Expect Web Pages To Load Quickly

It’s a mobile-first world. The majority of online searches today are occurring on mobile devices. Page speed and size are important for mobile web pages.

Mobile users expect web pages to load really fast. They want quick information while they are on the go. No one wants to wait around for a web page to load.

Websites today have to be designed for a mobile-first strategy.

  • Usability and speed are the most important factors for a mobile site.
  • For mobile users browsing on smartphones at 3G speeds, your website page speed and page size become really important. Web pages that load fast are essential for mobile users.
  • All images, videos and content must be compressed and optimized for mobile devices.

Here are some important industry benchmarks to improve mobile page speed from Think with Google:

  • Speed– Average Speed Index – How quickly a mobile web page displays content to users
    Best practice- under 3 seconds (lower is better)
  • Speed– Average Time to First Byte – How fast a mobile server loads the web page
    Best practice – under 1.3 seconds (lower is better)
  • Optimize– Average Request Count- the number of pieces of content required to display the web page
    Best practice – Less than 50
  • Weight– Average Page Weight in Bytes – the total size of the mobile web page in bytes
    Best practice – Less than 500KB

To perform well on mobile devices, your web pages must load fast and all content and images have to be optimized for mobile.

5. The Page Experience Update Makes User Experience a Search Ranking Factor That Impacts SEO rankings

The Page Experience Update from Google adds a new search ranking signal that will be used by Google for ranking web pages starting August 2021. Website pages that provide a good user experience will receive favorable SEO rankings.

What does the Page Experience Update include?

The Page Experience Update will consider several Page experience signals to measure the user experience of a web page. These signals include:

  1. Core Web Vitals

    The core web vitals metrics are measured by loading time, interactivity and visual stability.

    • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). This metric measures the page loading performance and page speed of the page. The largest content element on the page should load within 2.5 seconds after the page starts loading.
    • First Input Delay (FID). This metric measures the page interactivity and responsiveness from the time the user interacts with the web page by clicking on a link or button. The FID should be less than 100 milliseconds.
    • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). This metric measures the visual stability of the page. The CLS should be less than 0.1.
  2. Mobile-friendliness

    The website must be mobile-friendly and responsive.

  3. Safe browsing

    The web page must not contain any malicious code.

  4. HTTPS security

    The website uses HTTPS security protocols.

  5. No intrusive interstitials

    The web page content is easy to access by the user without pop-ups or intrusive interstitials that make it harder to access the content.

For more information on the Page Experience Update, read our post on Google Page Experience Update: How User Experience will Impact SEO Rankings.

How to Improve Your Website Page Speed

Improving page speed needs to be an important focus of your website and SEO strategy from the very beginning.

There are several ways to optimize a website to improve the page speed.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Make sure your website is responsive and mobile friendly
    Your website must be responsive and mobile-friendly. A responsive website will scale in size and format to fit devices of all sizes from mobile devices and tablets to desktops and laptops. Google recommends responsive websites.
  • All images must be small in size and compressed
    Large images are a major reason for slow-loading web pages. Large images may look great once loaded, but no one is going to wait around for them to load. All images on your website must be formatted and compressed to the right size that is needed on the web page. Images can be compressed for the web with tools like Adobe Photoshop.
  • Page content should load fast and the total page size should be kept under 500K.
    The Page content includes all text, videos, images and social media icons.
  • Use Browser Caching
    If you have a WordPress website, you can install a caching plugin to improve page speed. Contact a web developer to implement this.
  • Website must use https security protocols
  • Disable all pop-ups on your website.

There are many additional technical changes that can be made to your website to optimize for page speed. A web developer or technical SEO specialist can implement the technical changes needed to improve the page speed of your website.

How to Check Your Web Page Speed

You can check the page speed of your website with these tools from Google.

Conclusion

As mobile devices become the main device for browsing the web and searching online, the page speed of a website becomes increasingly important.

Websites must be optimized for page speed and user experience to increase customer retention; provide a great user experience; improve SEO rankings and increase sales, conversions and revenue.

Page speed optimization must be a focus of your web design and SEO strategy right from the start.

First Published: May, 2018. Updated: July 27, 2021.

References

  1. Google/SOASTA Research, 2017
  2. Daniel An, Think with Google, Find Out How You Stack Up To Industry Benchmarks for Mobile Page Speed, 2018
  3. Google Webmaster Central Blog, , Using Page Speed in Mobile Search Ranking, January 2018
  4. Google Search Central, Understanding page experience in Google Search Results, July 2021

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