In 2010, Google announced that page speed would have an impact on your website rankings, and a more recent algorithm update released in July 2018 was similarly applied to mobile search results.
Page speed is measured between the time of a click and a web page becoming visible. The ‘load time’ is the time it takes to fully display the contents on the webpage in question, whilst the ‘time to first byte’ is how long it takes for your browser to receive the first byte of data from the web server itself.
So, what does this mean for business owners? Simply put, if your competitor has a slightly faster load time than you, you’re unlikely to see a difference. If you’re already ranking higher, that’s not going to change because of a few 100ths of a second. If however, you have a well-optimised site – you’re doing everything correctly and you have a slow loading site, you’re going to suffer when it comes to your rankings and organic growth is going to be difficult, to say the least.
There’s another problem when it comes to slow loading websites and that’s your bounce rate. A bounce rate is measured when someone lands on a webpage and then leaves without browsing to another page. This metric indicates to Google that the user did not have a good browsing experience. On average websites with a 3 second load time will see a bounce rate of circa 38%. Combine that with lowered organic search positions and the result is dire indeed.
It’s critical on the path to organic growth that you start with the foundations, and that’s your website speed and performance. You can test your website performance for free by going to GTmetrix and typing in your URL. You’re aiming for an A grade website and a load time of under 3 seconds.
There are several optimisation techniques to speed websites up and improve their overall performance. From reducing requests to improving server response time. Doing so can bring drastic performance increases which will set the foundations for you to build on.
There are several areas where websites can be optimised in terms of speed and performance. Every website is different, but some rules apply to all. Below are a few examples which you can carry out to help you with improving load times. If you’re targeting international traffic, make sure to carry out the CDN recommendation. The reason for this is rather simple.
If a user from the US visits your webpage and your server is in London, then the distance their browser needs to travel to request data from your server is very long, and this results in a much slower load time than another visitor who is visiting from within the UK. Therefore, to them your website is slow, whilst it may be fast for local users. As search results are different worldwide, you’re not going to rank well internationally whilst you may nationally. There are obviously other metrics that are taken into consideration, but this gives you an example of improvement.