Verve
Blog
Home > Blog > Page Speed As A Ranking Factor

Page speed as a ranking factor

Page Load time SEO

There are incredible things which happen every second; about 11,500 Google searches take place, 11,500 Facebook statuses get updated and 2.8 million emails are sent. That’s every second. But people browsing the internet do not have seconds to spare when they’re wired onto the World Wide Web. In fact, it has been statistically proven that slower page response times lead to page abandonment. KISSmetrics report that a one second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. Now you’re listening.

It was only a matter of time until Google itself picked up on this vital influencer on a user’s browsing experience. After all, if a website takes ages to load from a SERP, it affects the search engine’s likeability. So back in 2010, Google filed an official patent to use resource load times as a ranking factor. But when Google tracks page speed, they use Chrome rather than their web crawler. Chrome has tools for developers to measure a page’s load speed, such as PageSpeed Insights.

But keep in mind that page speed is not as straight forward as it seems. Google takes into account destination, competitors, type of website, etc. when looking at page speed as a ranking factor. Because the algorithm is so complicated (surprise surprise), I have written out a list of takeaways from PageSpeed Insights which should help your website’s page load speed.

Compression

This is probably the most common problem with websites. Developers can compress files into a gzip format before they are sent to the user for download. This can be done by enabling compression on the web server. Google lists the following resources based on your web server:

Images

Again, a common problem often overlooked by web designers during the production stages of a website. The smaller your image sizes, the shorter the wait period to load resources. Formatting images properly and compressing them can save page load times, especially those with slow connections. Google recommends using jpegtran or jpegoptim to compress JPEG files without loss in quality, and OptiPNG or PNGOUT to compress PNG files without loss in quality.

Recommended image types are PNGs and JPEGs. Do not BMPs or TIFFs, and do not use GIFs unless the image is very small in size (i.e. 5×5 pixels).

JavaScript and CSS files

The most significant source of increased page load times occur when the HTML is being parsed, usually caused by JavaScript. If the browser runs into an external JavaScript file when it is parsing the HTML file, it halts the process until the JavaScript file is downloaded, parsed and executed. In the same way, JavaScript which is needed only to add additional functionality should be deferred until all the on-page content has been loaded.

Minifying

Minifying means eliminating unnecessary bytes of data which add up through additional spaces, indents and line breaks. By compacting CSS, HTML and JavaScript files, you can speed up the downloading, parsing and execution process. Google recommends using the YUI Compressor and cssmin.js for CSS files, and using Closure Compiler, JSMin or the YUI Compressor for JavaScript files. PageSpeed Insights will give you a minified version of your HTML file.

Redirects

Redirects are probably the most controversial topic in SEO. 301 vs. 302, redirect rules, etc. But putting all that to one side and just looking at redirects in general, Google recommends that you should avoid them altogether. Redirects trigger additional HTTP request and response cycles which add to the amount of trips you have to take. Redirects directly add to page load time. For mobile website, Google recommends using responsive design to avoid unnecessary response and requests.

There are many detailed guides available to address the points mentioned in this post on the web. Verve Search wrote the Mobile SEO chapter in E-consultancy’s Best Practice guide, which covers some page speed information for mobile websites. One thing to remember is that you can never do any harm by making your site faster. At most, rankings will remain the same or increase, so give it a thought!

Image credit: http://www.funnyjunk.com/channel/life-hacks/Life+Hacks+3/MXGtGZK/72#72

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One thought on “Page speed as a ranking factor