I am obsessed with speed…always have been…always will be. So what better topic then website performance? More importantly website speed. The faster the better! Slow page load times will have a negative effect on website page conversions. There is no question about it.

Stick around and I’ll tell you why you should be thinking about this very important SEO tactic. Even more, it is a smart business move to implement on your web presence.

Page Load Speed

In the early days of the Internet, people threw up a website and watched visitors arrive in droves. They just figured web surfers would find them, and buy their stuff. So the quality and load speed of a web presence really wasn’t all that important. In fact it was a matter of “what you don’t know won’t hurt you.”.

The Internet world has come a long way over a very short period of time. Things are going so fast, and technology is developing so quickly, it is hard to keep up. These days, one has to be all over their website in so many ways. Competition is fierce. So it is obvious that a website owner needs to be constantly tweaking all aspects of their web presence.

Enter Google. The good folks in Mountain View (Google’s Global HQ) are constantly tweaking their Search algorithms with the goal of providing high quality and meaningful results to web surfers. It’s not simply a matter of putting up a web page or blog post and having people find it. You need to work at it (At WebFuel, we do – every single day!). Ranking high in Search is a moving target. Site speed is playing an increasingly larger role in how a website ranks in a Google Search.

You may recall that Google announced their intentions of including site speed as a ranking factor as far back as the Fall of 2009. Things have progressed since then – to the point of Google putting in place a tool that will help Webmasters actually see how well they are doing in Google’s eyes.

The experimental tool is straightforward to use. Simply type in a website URL and Google will come back with suggestions for how to improve that web page’s speed (You could run the test on every URL of your website). The suggestions are ranked as either High, Medium or Low. You simply work your way through their optimization tips – and watch your score increase as you progress. In addition, Google displays which best practices a website is already following (and those you are not). I like this approach as I can now go into Google Analytics, see which pages are the most popular and start tweaking at the individual page level – if need be.

Serious stuff!

Google has also upped their game by making a nifty addition to Google Analytics – the ability to measure page load times across your entire website. That is right, you can now measure the performance of each and every page on your website!

You must be wondering how the WebFuel website fares in all of this. We rate a healthy 91 out of 100 in Google’s Page Speed Test.

This is better than most websites I have tested. The aforementioned aside, am I happy? No! I will only be happy when we rate 100/100.

User Experience

Pop quiz. How long do you hang around a website if the site’s pages load slowly? A rhetorical question. You don’t. Site abandonment is often times the end result of a website with pages that load slowly. Studies show that surfers start to twitch after about 3 seconds. Then they leave… And will often tell others about their negative experience.

The following graphic from Strangeloopnetworks outlines things very well.

A curious aside on this topic. I see the same problems on almost every website I have tested. This is un-nerving inasmuch as some of the sites I have tested are relatively new. I guess page load times, user experience, and high Search Engine rankings are more important to we “WebFuelers” (Should it say “us WebFuelers” instead of “we WebFuelers”? No) then they are to some web designers (tongue in cheek).

Should one be worried about Page load times to the point of obsession (Like I am)? Probably not as it is one of over 200 factors Google takes into consideration in their ever-changing and and ever-evolving algorithms. That being said, a website owner would be remiss in not remedying anything that could negatively affect Search Engine rankings and user experience.

At WebFuel, we specialize in helping you get found on the web. Our areas of expertise span SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media Marketing & Measurement. How does your website rank in terms of (SEO) page speed performance? If you think there is room for improvement, please contact us. We’ll be able to help you improve your website’s speed – and hence, your end-user’s experience & SEO.

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  • Stephen

    Well done as always WebFuelers. One quick question – what about mobile sites? Are the measurement tools and considerations similar?

    • Les

      Hi Stephen. Good question. The measurement tools and associated considerations are relatively the same. You will often be able to recognize a mobile version of a website that has been optimized for “speed” by its sometimes lack of resemblance to the original website. This being done in an effort to reduce used resources as mobile bandwidth is most always less robust than its terrestrial counterpart. And (as an aside) mobile users seem to be even less patience than “landlubbers”!

      • Stephen

        Thanks Les – I suspected that mobile users were even less patient. I know I am when I am on one of my “i” devices.