Site speed is a ranking factor for Google that you don’t want to overlook! Google has over 200 ranking factors and site speed is considered to be one of the lighter ranking factors, but it still matters. Google even provides free tools that help you analyze your website’s speed for both mobile & desktop. In this Daily Brown Bag, you’ll learn about the impact of site load time on user experience/customer behavior, Google’s position on website load time and Google’s free tools that analyze and provide suggestions for your website’s performance. We also break down where to start when building a website from the ground up.

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Hello, and welcome to our SEO reseller Daily Brown Bag. Today we’re going to be talking about site speed and why that matters. I’m Chad Hill, and I’m joined by Adam Stetzer.

Hey, good morning, Chad. Welcome to the Brown Bag. People in our SEO program are asking us every day, Chad -- they come to our four o’clock sessions, I know you talk to them in the reviews -- “I want to get better rankings for our clients.” That’s essentially what our SEO reseller program helps them accomplish through solid, PR-focused SEO tactics. We’re going to highlight a factor that probably isn’t high up in the radar (everyone knows about excellent onsite content, our real SEO strategy, everyone knows you have to earn backlinks and you need to leave link baiting to try to get those links in the right way), but today we’re talking about site speed.

This is something that I don’t think comes up a lot in our SEO reseller discussions with the community, but it’s something we need to keep on the radar because it is a ranking factor for Google. Sure, there are over 200 different factors and this is one of the lighter ones, Chad, but as we know -- from talking to our customers and as resellers -- they want to get high rankings, and every bit matters. And site speed is in the algorithm.

Here some stats to keep in mind in terms of your rankings & in your AdWord performance in PPC:

  • Google has been on record saying, “Your landing page experience affects not only your quality score but also your Ad Rank and your advertising costs.” Right there we have proof that PPC is going to suffer if you have a slow site speed.

  • If it takes too long for your page to load, people are more likely to abandon it. That signals a poor user experience, so that’s going to hurt your conversion rate.

Site Speed & SEO Rankings

Now, switching gears to: “What does that mean for my SEO? My rankings?” There is a lot of data on this, too. According to KISSmetrics:

  • Forty-seven percent of consumers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less.

  • 40% of consumers will leave a website if it takes longer than three seconds.

  • People viewing on mobile devices expect the webpage to load just as fast as they do on the desktop

  • A one second delay in site speed some have estimated equates to a 7% lower conversion.

If we know these things, we have to assume that Google also knows them, which means that they are in Google's algorithm because they’re seeking that perfect user experience, and they’re adjusting their ranking algorithm to show the best content. As our SEO resellers think about, "How can I get the best rankings for my client?Site speed has got to be in there.

What kind of practical suggestions can you make about site speed?

That’s a good question, and it’s one that we definitely run into when we’re working with our SEO resellers. The simplest answer is don’t use $6 hosting. You want to be using WP Engine or some of the other dedicated WordPress hosts that can get you pretty solid, fast hosting. Before you jump to that, there are a few other things you can analyze to make sure you understand where the load issues are.

You should care about your site’s performance:

There are two tools that Google recommends - we always use these when we’re doing our SEO white label report that we put together. There’s one that Google has put together that’s called PageSpeed Insights and there’s another one -- Pingdom -- that will analyze your site speed for both mobile and desktop. These are all looking at a number of different factors, including:

  • How long does it take for the request of someone looking for your page to actually get a response from the server?

  • What happens after that response after that response comes down in terms of how many files does it have to load?

  • How many different places is it going to download those files?

Relationship Between: Slow Websites & User Experience

It’s actually really interesting to look at these charts because you start to realize you get those long poles in your tent where there’s some script or some large file you have on your website that may be actually slowing the whole user experience down by half a second or a second, but -- as Adam just said here -- that can really make a big difference in how long someone’s willing to wait for a page to load and to interact with your website.

Website Design: Building a Website from the Ground Up

There are a few other things that, in general, you should look at. And that is that, when you are building a website from the ground up. Again, this is what happens with a lot of our SEO resellers -- they’re often Web designers or Web marketing firms that are involved in website design.

Tips: Where to Start

1. You can reduce the size of your images

There are a lot of tools out there to help keep your image size as small as possible.

2. You want to simplify your coding.

As useful as it is to load hundreds of scripts for all of these advanced features, that is going to take more time.

3. You want to simplify your design.

4. Modify your caching system.

5. Check hosting.

We mentioned this earlier, but make sure you’re on a reputable site; six dollar hosting isn’t going to cut it these days, you need to be paying more than that. You should also make sure your hosting is appropriate for the technology you are using.

Make sure that all of this is done with mobile, as well.

Again, like anything we’ve talked about with SEO, optimizing a website for site speed is going to take time. It’s usually going to be a multiple pass type of project. But it’s worth it. It’s a small ranking factor, but very much one that is easy for most people to solve and it can help you improve your rankings.

Optimizing The Performance of Your Website: Better User Experience

Excellent, Chad. We talk a lot with our community about onsite SEO content. Of course, we talk a lot about how to attract links and good quality links -- the right links -- and about how to go about your promotion and PR in the right way.

Takeaways & Tips for Members of Our Loyal SEO Community:

Site speed -- don’t overlook it. It’s one of the 200 ranking factors, and you want to make sure you’ve checked every box to bring your customer the maximum value.

That’s our Brown Bag today. We hope you’ve enjoyed it. We always ask that you subscribe because we’d love to see you right back here tomorrow for another topic.