Website speed has become one of Google’s most critical page ranking factors. This change has been a part of search engine’s Mobile First campaign. We’ve all heard that mobile internet is going to reshape the digital world. Since mobile internet users have outnumbered the desktop ones two years ago, Google needed to make serious steps to adapt its searches to the needs of this huge cohort.
One of the most important characteristics of mobile internet users is that they connect to the network through Wi-Fi. This drastically decreases their internet speed, so sometimes they have problems with page loading.
By giving more importance to the page speed factor, Google is making the internet more accessible to the huge masses of mobile users. In this article, we’ll explain how website speed influences the search ranking and what you can do to improve it.
How Website Speed Can Impact Your Website’s Search Engine Ranking
#1) What is Page Loading Speed?
Google has always been intentionally unclear when it comes to describing its ranking factors.
SEO experts are still banging their heads to determine which aspect of this parameter influences SE rating the most and how important the website speed is comparing to other ranking factors, like keywords, the number of outbound links, etc.
The biggest study that tried to measure the impact of website speed on Google ranking was done by Moz.com. The study has evaluated 100,000 pages through more than 40 different performance measures.
a) Document Complete and Fully Rendered
We hear a lot about the correlation between the page’s loading time and its search ranking, but many people don’t understand that there are two separate loading time measurements:
- Document complete – is the time that is required for opening all clickable and input content on the page;
- Fully rendered – is the time required for displaying the whole page in full, with all of its images, slideshows, videos, and advertisements.
Moz’s study has determined that both of these measurements have an impact on search rating, but there’s no obvious correlation between the two.
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b) What is ‘the Time of the First Byte’?
This measurement represents a time required for your browser to receive the first-byte response from the web page. Moz’s study has determined that this is one of the most important speed factors. Pages with small TTFB receive much better ranking. ‘The time of the first byte’ is primarily influenced by the speed of the website’s server. Purchasing a dedicated hosting package can drastically increase the page’s TTFB because the dedicated servers come with much higher speed than the shared ones.
#2) How Important is Page Size?
The page size represents the number of bytes your browser needs to download to present the web page in full, with all of its images, parallax, and advertisements.
While most SEO experts make a direct correlation between page size and Google ranking, this hasn’t been proved by Moz’s page speed study. The results show an opposite trend. Oddly enough, massive pages have received much better ranking. This doesn’t have anything to do with the page speed itself, but with the fact that bigger companies have bigger and more powerful servers, which boost their speed. These pages also have more demanding content.
Smaller companies, proprietors, and bloggers that use shared servers have much less content, but even then they receive much lower ranking than the big corporate players.
#3) How Can I Check My Page Speed?
Google offers great tools for checking and optimizing your page speed. PageSpeed Insights can check your loading speed and provide great recommendations that will help you make your website faster and more mobile-friendly. You just need to type in your web address, and the platform will give it a unique speed score and list different types of optimizations that will increase it.
PageSpeed package also comes with two more free tools:
- PageSpeed Module can integrate with your Apache or Nginx and optimize your website’s speed, while
- PageSpeed Optimization Library gives you access to the whole library of modules that you can use for building your own speed-optimization tools.
#4) How Can I Improve My Website’s Loading Time?
After checking your website’s speed with PageSpeed tools, just follow the instructions for optimizing your page. Google tools usually advise you to minimize your page resources, by:
- Optimizing images’ size, format and src attributes;
- Optimizing the CSS delivery by creating an external stylesheet;
- Prioritizing above-the-fold content;
- Decreasing the number of plugins and modules;
In addition to the advice that Google PageSpeed tools have provided you with, you should also change some of the most basic UI, web design and hosting settings in order to achieve higher loading speed. Try:
- Reducing redirects – Create responsive website layout that can be viewed on both mobile and desktop browsers. If you want to redirect your users to a mobile version of your page, use HTTP redirect and include a <link rel=”alternate”> markup on your page so the Googlebot can identify the mobile-equivalent URL.
- Enable browser caching – You can do this by downloading specialized plugins and modules that allow the elements of your pages to be stored on the visitor’s hard drive.
- Decrease your page size –Compress your pages with tools like Gzip;
- Purchase a dedicated server– This is the best way to ensure faster bandwidth, more storage space and faster server response time.
Over to You
Several studies have determined that more than 50% of internet users close the page after only three seconds of loading, which means that page speed is a critical part of website’s user experience.
Although many people consider Google’s rules to be too harsh, this search engine is doing us a favor by motivating webmasters to improve their website speed.
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