Is Page Speed a Ranking Factor on Google?

 

Ever search for a company on Google, only to find yourself waiting, waiting, and still waiting for their website to load? Even in the age of high-speed internet, some websites take forever to load.

And guess what? If you think it’s frustrating, Google does too. After all, Google’s number one priority is to create an amazing experience for their users. If your page doesn’t load fast enough, Google users will simply return to the search results page. The result is that Google will view your page as less relevant than your competition. That means lower rankings, and fewer leads.

That’s why you need to read on to make sure you’re up to date on page load speed—one of the most important SEO ranking factors!

What is Page Load Speed?

Page speed, or site speed, refers to the length of time it takes for your website to load on someone’s desktop or mobile browser. Load speed is now one of the many things that Google takes into consideration when indexing and ranking your page.

Google Cares About Page Speed—You Should Too

In July 2018, Google rolled out a new ranking algorithm billed as a “Speed Update”. When Google’s crawlers ‘crawl’ your website for indexing purposes, the length of time it takes for your page to load is now analyzed by crawlers.

In short, a fast-loading page has the potential to rank higher than a slow-loading page.

Has Google Always Paid Attention to Page Speed?

In 2010, Google made the announcement that page speed would begin to impact a website’s overall ranking on its search engine. While it wouldn’t necessarily boost the ranking of websites with a high page speed, it would negatively impact the ranking of websites that “delivered the slowest experience to users,” as Google’s Zhiheng Wang and Doantam Phan explained.

For many years, though, this wasn’t a huge concern for many business owners. This was because, at the time, Google was only taking the page speed of desktop searches into consideration.

In 2018, however, that changed.

Page Speed Then and Now: Google’s Shift from Desktop to Mobile-First Indexing

The 2018 update isn’t just a re-vamping of the same old algorithm. The introduction of Google’s ‘Speed Update’ highlights a shift in how their crawlers do their job—and how consumers use the internet.

This new algorithm prioritizes mobile searches as opposed to desktop searches because that’s the direction users, and the internet itself, is currently headed. With so many people relying on their smartphones for internet access on-the-go, the speed at which it takes your website to load on their iPhone is what’s most important.

Why You Should Focus on Page Speed for Mobile Browsers

If you’re skeptical of Google’s insistence that page speed is important for the user experience, here are some facts and figures that might persuade you to come over to Google’s side of the table:

  • • Over 50% of America’s web browsing is done on mobile devices
  • • Worldwide mobile market share is at 52.1% in 2019, while desktop market share stands at 44.2%
  • • Studies show that 40% of individuals rely exclusively on their smartphone for web browsing
  • • Over half of all online video views come from smartphones and mobile devices
  • • American mobile search queries are estimated to reach 141.9 billion by end of 2019

We think those statistics are pretty convincing!

Is Your Page Speed High or Low on Mobile Browsers?

Google’s crawlers, in a sense, are designed to look for many of the same things that the average individual look for. Things like authoritative, relevant content, and a zero-friction browsing experience. That means no broken links, no bugs, and no suspicious spam-like content. Not to mention all the other things that go into a user-friendly experience.

While many companies might offer this sort of browsing experience on desktop browsers, their once-cutting edge websites often fall short of optimal when it comes to being viewed on mobile browsers. By failing to keep up with the times, they’ve inadvertently failed to meet their client’s expectations and in turn hurt their own business.

Clients Care About Page Speed, Too

When you think of your clients, think about their web-browsing experience. When they land on your website, what is their experience like? You might think that it’s great—with your sleek website, loads of helpful information, and easy to read calls to action.

That’s all well and good, but there’s one thing you’re missing. No, it’s not a company jingle that blasts on auto-play the moment your page loads. It’s page speed.

If your page fails to load in a few seconds, you just lost a customer.

The Importance of Page Speed for Clients

The new generation of consumers have higher expectations than those from days of old. One reason is the sheer number of service providers in any given area. With so much market competition, companies will do just about anything to satisfy their customers. If a client has even the slightest suspicion that they might be let down by an electrician or plumber, they’ll go and look for another plumber without giving it a second thought.

This increase in expectations also has to do with the internet itself. Thanks to the advent of high-speed internet and lightning-fast web-browsing, web users expect a frictionless experience. If a website fails to provide that sort of service, users won’t put up with it.

64% of smartphone users expect pages to load faster on their phone than they load on their desktop! The reality, however, is that as of 2016, the average retail website took almost 7 seconds to load. When stacked against the fact that 40% of consumers will outright leave a page if it takes longer than three seconds to load, there are a whole lot of websites that go ignored. Yours might be one of them.

The Top-Ranking Websites Have Excellent Page Speed. Coincidence?

Backlinko recently analyzed over one million SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) on Google. Their goal in this study was to find out what all the top-ranking pages had in common.

As you might have guessed by this point, one of the things that all these pages had in common was fast page speeds. What’s more, these pages also had incredibly low bounce rates—another bonus!

How long did it take for these top-ranking pages to load on mobile? No more than 3 seconds. And, if a website took more than 10 seconds to load, users were more likely to leave the site before it finished loading by a staggering 120%.

Page Speeds Are Low All Over the Web

The average speed for automotive companies is currently sitting at 9.5 seconds, and local service providers’ websites are 7.9 seconds on average. What’s the take-away? There is no better time than now for you to clean up your website and boost your website’s page speed.

Studies show that if you’re able to get your webpage’s load time to 2 seconds or less, you could double your web traffic. And with an increase in web traffic also comes an increase in client engagement and conversions.

How to Find Out Whether Your Site Speed is Optimal or Subpar

The easiest way to find out whether your website’s page speed is fast or slow is to visit the website yourself. Due to the range of factors that may come into play (location, browser, internet connection, etc.), you may want more accurate information.

Google has created an app called Page Speed Insights. Hosted by Google Developers, this wonderful tool gives you a wealth of information. It gives you a detailed description of how fast your site loads on both mobile and desktop browsers, and what’s more, it tells you how you could improve it.

Bring Your Page Up to Speed Today

In conclusion, load time matters. If a client knocked on your business’s door and you didn’t answer in a timely fashion, they’d probably walk away.

Chances are, though, doing things like de-bugging your website, enabling compression, reducing redirects, and leveraging browsing caching is probably a little outside of your expertise. After all, not everybody is a web developer.

 
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LinkNow: The Experts on Site Speed, SEO, and More

Here at LinkNow, our websites are optimized for mobile viewing, and they’re free of those bugs and re-directs that can hinder a user’s browsing experience. We troubleshoot SEO and web issues on a daily basis and we always put clients first!

Do you have questions of your own? Leave a comment below or contact us at 1-888-667-7186.

Aubrey Grant

Author: Aubrey Grant

About Aubrey Grant

Aubrey is a copy writer and Head of Content at LinkNow Media. An expert content marketer, he is obsessed with developing strategic solutions that emphasize elegance and simplicity. Although generally mild mannered, he has been known to fly into rages at the sight of a semicolon.