The page speed of your website is the measurement of how long it takes the content on your pages to load. It is one of the 200 signals that Google uses to determine the performance of your page on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Page speed needs to be addressed as part of a comprehensive SEO strategy, but are there other factors to take into consideration?
Page speed has been one of the 200 signals that Google has used in its algorithm since at least April 2010. In June 2013 it was hinted that page speed would begin to factor in mobile page performance as well, and it’s coming sooner rather than later. As a result, we recommend every site owner work on maximizing the page speed of their sites to maximize SERP performance. Here are a few best practices to consider when updating your site for page speed.
Image Optimization: The images hosted on your site can play a large role in your page speed. Be sure to pay attention to the size of each image found on your website, and ensure that none are larger than they need to be. This covers both height/width as well as data size. PNG and JPEG are the two most commonly used filetypes. PNG is best suited for images with limited colors, and JPEG for photographs and other rich images.
Cut Redirects: Limit the number of times a user is redirected before reaching their desired page. Avoid them wherever possible, and if a redirect is necessary, limit it to a single one.
Server Response: Pay attention to the performance that your hosting provider’s servers offer, and upgrade when necessary to ensure that page speed doesn’t suffer. You want to make sure that server response time is under 200ms.
While not directly related to SEO, slow page speed can also negatively affect your lead generation and page statistics. The longer a page takes to load, the more likely a user is likely to become frustrated and close the browser window. This can hurt both your bounce rate, as well as time on site and pages viewed. These factors are all considered by Google as signals as well, and more importantly, each bounce or closed window is a lost potential lead. In fact, Amazon has found that every 100ms of additional page load time results in a 1% cost in sales. A half second can cause a 20% drop in traffic, and high-frequency traders can lose millions over single milliseconds.
Page speed can pay a huge role in the performance of your website and your business, and not just in the SEO field. There are simple and automated ways to optimize your page speed, and should be a focus of any complete digital marketing strategy. However, aside from very specific situations, you don’t need to fight over single milliseconds in timing. Optimize your page as best as possible, keep speed prompt, but don’t fret over single digits as your time can be better spent elsewhere.