Site Speed for SEO: Does it play a role?

Written by: Jason Bayless | April 01, 2016

Site Speed for SEO: Does it play a role?

The speed of your website has been an important part of how your SEO plays out for many years. Exactly how important was it, and how important is it now? It depends on who you ask; however, there are some guidelines that you can definitely hang your hat on when it comes to site speed and search engine optimization.

– Google and the Speed Tool

In 2011, Google announced its Speed Tool, a tool that analyzed the page speed of websites and even offered suggestions on how to improve the speed of the page. With this update, websites lost the excuse of having large webpages as a meaningful reason for sloth. No matter how big the webpage was, it began to be punished in Google search engine rankings if it was slow. This trend has only continued up to the present day.

– Why did Google implement this speed tool?

Google began to implement the speed tool as users demanded more results from its search engine per page. Google was forced to implement 30 search results per page instead of 10. The result was much less traffic on the lower pages. People also began to notice website speed and pick the pages that loaded the fastest. With more choice came more snootiness about speed, and Google was forced to make the necessary changes to keep its audience happy. Perhaps the most important aspect of this page change was that people were getting upset at half a second difference in website speed!

– How much does website speed actually affect website ranking?

According to a leading online market research company Moz, website speed is only one of 200 factors that Google considers when it is determining the search ranking of a particular website. However, website speed has been more of a primary factor as businesses find their way into the mobile space. Because there is much less memory on a mobile phone, the speed with which the website loads becomes more of a concern for the major search engines. Many market research companies have concluded that website speed will continue to rise as an important measure of viability for a website as mobile commerce continues to rise.

Currently, website speed on desktop sites is also becoming more important. As the average website uses less overall resources for audio and video, the average site speed is increasing. Those websites that remain behind the curve are finding themselves moving lower and lower in major search engine results. This has to do with the dissatisfaction that is reported by website visitors and the difficulty that website crawlers have with these websites.

– What can the average webmaster do in order to increase website speed for search engine optimization purposes?

The first thing that the average webmaster can do is cut back on the audio and visual resources that are used on the website. There are many streaming services that can bring the same content without weighing down on the actual website payload. The cloud is also another resource aggregator that can create more room within a website structure.

The structure of a website is also a very important feature to consider. Pictures do not need to be uploaded twice on different pages in order to be used twice. The same goes for video and audio content. However, many webmasters still make these rookie mistakes when they are organizing their webpages.