I came across a great blog post over at SEOMoz this morning. They were discussing how page load speeds can affect Google page rank. We all know that the time it takes for your website to load can have sever implications for visitors to the site. The typical user will only wait for approximately 4-6 seconds for a page to load. What you may not have been aware of is that Google uses the page load speeds as part of their page ranking algorithm.
“Tests at Amazon revealed similar results: every 100 ms increase in load time of Amazon.com decreased sales by 1% (Kohavi and Longbotham 2007).”
Speed as a ranking factor is not new. Google stated in April of 2010 that they would be adding page load speed into the search ranking algorithm. Google’s official blog post announcing site speed as a factor, stated that:
“While site speed is a new signal, it doesn’t carry as much weight as the relevance of a page. Currently, fewer than 1% of search queries are affected by the site speed signal”
Admittedly, this is only one signal of hundreds that are used and is quite far down on the list. Creating a positive user experience by Google helps to reinforce the fact that they really do have the users best interests in mind. Google understand that today’s web user, more than ever, has very little patience.
Reducing page load times increase user satisfaction and also increases conversions. Pages should be made first and foremost and is about creating a superior visitor experience. Everything in Google’s algorithm updates and in their policies and practices has continually reinforced their ideal that the end-user comes first. It is policies like this that have lead Google to be the “juggernaut” of a company that it is today.
Here are a few suggestions to improve you webpage load times:
- Reduce HTTP Requests: Your page will load faster if it is not continually trying to fetch and retrieve information such as scripts, style sheets and images.
- Tableless Design: Use CSS for page layout instead of tables to increase page loads as well
- Optimize Images: Programs like Photoshop have great image optimization features built in.
- Site Server-Cached: Have your site cached on the server it is being hosted on. This is especially great for dynamic sites, so that the whole page does not have to be rendered every time a request is made.
- Minimize HTTP Requests: You page will load faster if it is not continually trying to fetch and retrieve information such as scripts, style sheets and images
- Gzip Compression: Use a program like Gzip to ompress the size of the page sent to the browser, which then uncompresses the information and displays it for the user
- Minimize Use of iFrames
- Avoid Heavy Graphic Usage
- Avoid Flash
- Host on a high speed server
You can use tools like Google WMT to view a report of you page load speeds, or use a site like http://www.webpagetest.org/ to test your website’s performance.