In recent years, society has changed quite drastically. Today, we expect things to happen and happen quickly – whether it’s an online order we’ve placed or for the website itself to load. Because of the vast size of the internet, many people look at the speed that a website loads as a barometer for its overall performance. After all, if there’s likely another option out there, why should you need to wait for the website to load?
Website speed has become so important to businesses because of this – if you can’t get your clients onto the page in a couple of seconds, they will hit the ‘Back’ button and look elsewhere. For quite some time, website speed was a nice extra to have with your website and did not affect your ranking, just the amount of people who would hang around to see what you had to say. However, since 2010, it’s been one of the 200+ factors that Google takes into account when ranking your website.
New factors have come into play since 2010, with several Google updates having been put in place since then to totally change the way that websites are actually ranked. Now, your websites speed is a big part of your actual ranking – if you aren’t hitting Google standards, you’ll be punished by being stunted in the rankings. While Google say that it only makes up a small portion of the ranking, various researches show that it has more of an impact than you might first think.
Websiteoptimization.com carried out an experiment in 2014, whereby they moved a website from a slow web hosting service to a quicker server that had fewer websites on it. They found that by doing so, the first bytes were being transferred up to 82% quicker via a cable internet connection. Before, the site would have taken up to 60 seconds to start loading, and this caused several issues with the Google “crawlers”.
Crawlers are the automated tools that Google use to start ranking websites every day, and making sure that websites are ranked in the right order. Because of the slow load times, the website was punished and only certain pages were indexed, reducing the ranking potential of the website quite drastically.
Therefore, it’s important that your website can load quickly enough for both your visitors and for the Google crawlers to access every page quickly. Doing everything that you can to improve web page speed and performance is going to make a massive difference in the long-term.