Sitespeed’s Impact On a Website

Whenever I audit a website, one of the first things I look at is the site speed.  My specialty is on-page SEO but site speed is more technical and can be fun to play around with.

I notice a lot of business owners ignore or underestimate site speed.

How important is site speed for SEO?

While site speed is not a heavy ranking factor, it can certainly boost your ranking.  There’s nothing wrong with having a fast website.

A study conducted by MOZ in 2013 showed how the biggest metric for page speed was Time-to-First-Byte (TTFB), which is basically how fast does it take for a browser to receive the first byte from your browser.  The first byte can be from anything but if the first thing to load on your website is a javascript file or an image and takes 2 seconds to load up, you need to make it load up quicker.

site speed case study ttfb

So basically, the quicker it takes for a website to initially load up, the better.  Though for an optimal user experience, it is recommended to make the entire website load up quickly.  For bigger websites, this might be a challenge.

Many SEOs will argue that it is important for an entire website to load up in under 2-3 seconds, hence why so many business owners invest money in a top-performing web hosting provider and Content Delivery Network.  For the sake of this post, SiteGround and CloudFlare have been seen as a great combination of many websites, especially those using WordPress.

A study by KissMetrics shows the correlation between site speed and user engagement.  If a website loads slow, users will leave.  The amount of time a user spends on a website has been seen as a ranking factor for Google.  For example, 40% of users will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load while a 1-second delay in page speed results in a 7% in conversion loss.

Why do sites with more than 3 seconds page speed still rank high?

My guess is branding and authority.  Many users will wait for a website to load up if they know the website has information they need.  I can also say that their TTFB speed is fast and while the entire website is still loading, the majority of the website has already loaded up.

How long does it take to improve a website’s speed?

That depends.  Site speed is very technical.  It involves image optimization, code optimization, and server configuration.  The question is: how important is site speed for you?  A fast website results in more conversions and more traffic in the long run.  It can also mean an easier time managing your website since websites that use simpler themes are easier to manage.

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