How Website Speed And Site Rankings Matter

As Google often alters its algorithm according to sites based on keyword relevance; keywords and backlinks consistently hold a majority of the pie, as a multitude of small factors are taken into consideration. Let’s look at website speed for instance. You could be wondering how speed correlates with search rankings but it is indeed a factor (although small in authority) that alters your ranking with Google.

Website speed is a factor for rankings

Firstly, if you find that website speed is affected your rankings in a major way, we have to reiterate that this isn’t quite so. While they are indeed connected, you won’t be able to pinpoint a direct comparison; for example, low rank sites may load faster and vice versa.

The results are reliant on what metric was used to track website speed. For instance, if you consider the time it takes for sites to load the first byte; quicker ones often go on to rank higher on Google.

Not only that, other metrics also apply – i.e. the time needed to load the main content or the duration it takes to completely load a page (including its images and ads), then things play out differently as these two factors aren’t that important to Google.

It is widely accepted that website speed has less than 1% effect on search rankings. While Google have mentioned that they consider website speed into its metrics, they didn’t exactly divulge why it’s important. However, many sites have gone on to record an increase in traffic (search engine) after they tweak their site for optimum speed.

This is especially recommended if your site is on the slow side. Remember, you aren’t doing it for Google, you are more importantly driving users, traffic and conversions through a couple of tweaks. Website speed is everything to a user’s overall experience, and you should take it lightly. There is no point in driving traffic from search engines, when your users have to wait for than 10 seconds before your content even loads. They will most likely just leave altogether.

How to optimize website speed

Want to improve your website’s speed? Here’s a couple of surefire ways you can start initiating for peak website speed.

Gauge load times

Before you can begin calculating load times, having a reliable tool is a given. There is a plethora of choices with Pingdom Page Load Time tool and Google Analytics Site Speed assessments able to provide you with a view of your site’s overall performance. WebPageTest is an intelligent tool as it gives you the ability to test your site in a multitude of browser and pinpoint sluggish areas on your site.

While these tests take a considerable amount of time for large sites but as they provide you comprehensive data about which areas are slow, the wait is well worth it. Handy tools not only share details about a site’s speed but aspects such as first byte, time it takes to load a site, time on site, amount of images, HTML, Javascript files. These are especially advantageous for pinpointing and fixing site errors.

Relocate to a speedy server

A reason why your site could be slow is because the server that’s running it is slow itself. There are multiple reasons – from a web hosting provider that has insufficient bandwidth to provide quick servers, to the nature of your hosting account.

The straightforward way here is to revamp your existing account. For example, if you possess a big site with a lot of pages and constant database activity on a shared account; then no provider can give the speed in which you require. For this scenario, if you’re satisfied with your existing provider, the best alternative is to upgrade your account from a shared one to VPS (Virtual Private Server), or even a dedicated server for optimum performance. While the cost for VPS and dedicated servers are considerably higher than a shared account, they can help revamp your  site if slow speed is a stumbling block.

Having said that, if your web hosting provider isn’t reliable even after upgrading your account, this won’t help you in any way. The only solution is to migrate your site(s) to a reliable web hosting provider. Taking the time to research the best web hosting providers can go a long way.

Optimize your site’s internal coding and images

Your server could be fast but if your site is slow, you’re bound to face speed problems. If your coding and images aren’t tweaked for fast loading, you will not notice any speed improvements until they have been ironed out. This task will presumably take a very long time, even more so if your code and images are bloated but it has to be done. For images, you can simply use compression and smaller sizes. This will help improve loading in a big way. As for HTML, CSS, Javascript and other Web languages, there’s a ton of methods (and tools) to improving your coding.

Website speed isn’t a gauge with big importance for search engine rankings, although it does count. The major problem with slow sites is that they aren’t user-friendly, which ultimately affects conversions. If you value monetary aid to your site, take the initiative to fix them as it will definitely pay off in the long run.