Impact of Load Time on SEO

The load time of your website is an important factor that effects the success of your website. Not only is it important because people prefer sites with fast load times and generally lose their patience with a site that responds slowly, but it can also impact SEO.

It’s for that reason that in April 2010, Google began to incorporate load time as one of the factors in its search engine algorithm for ranking websites. Google didn’t do it because they people weren’t visiting sites that were slow… instead Google saw a pattern in which when slow websites ranked at the top of the first page of Google, users would use Google Search less meaning less money for Google.

Now, Google representatives have stated on several occasions that page speed have a very small impact… in fact it impacts rankings for less than 1% of search queries. That being said, there are reports from webmasters of huge websites where rankings were impacted significantly due to page speed.

While it may be true that speed impacts a very small percentage of search queries, it also seems that the effect it does have can be very significant. A logical interpretation for webmasters is as follows – if all else is equal or very close when it comes to other SEO factors, page speed can play a huge role. Also, if load time is exceptionally poor, you may notice an impact to your site ranking.

While you shouldn’t obsess with page speed, at the very least, you want to make sure your page loads fairly quick so that web visitors don’t bounce from your website as well as to ensure that you optimize your website for this ranking factor. Here are a few things to consider:

Determine your page load speed

The first step towards optimizing your website is to determine your website load speed. There are multiple tools available, so feel free to use Google, however I typically use either Google Pagespeed Insights or YSlow by Yahoo.

The different tools that you use can give you other insights. For example, if you use Google PageSpeed Insights, you will get information as to which components are slowing your site down. Use YSlow and you can analyze your page speed based on a variety of criteria.

Optimize images

Having large images on your webpages can drastically cause a slow down to your site’s speed. The best thing to do is make use of image compressors and other tools to balance file sizes and screen depiction to reduce the image size without sacrificing quality.

Optimize database

For WordPress users or other CMS, the database is where posts, pages, settings, comments and other relevant information is stored. Each time a page is loaded, the database is read, so it’s important to optimize regularly.

You can use WP-DB manager plugin which can assist with back-up, restore, repair and optimize your database.

In addition, you’ll want to make sure to delete spam comments. Counting takes a lot of time on big databases and having all those thousands of spam comments in your database will slow down your website so make sure to be vigilant with deleting spam comments from your database.

There are other factors which determine webpage speed. With the various tools available to monitor your site’s performance, you’ll be able to pinpoint which factors are impacting your site speed. It’s up to you then to make the necessary changes.

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