Don’t Forget About This SEO Ranking Factor

Written by Nick Stamoulis

Getting a website to appear prominently in the search engines is a difficult task. It takes time to conduct keyword research, incorporate keywords into website meta information and on page content, and build inbound links from a variety of trusted sources. While these are the key components of a white hat SEO campaign, it’s important to remember that the search engine algorithms are extremely complex and take many things into account. One item that is considered that can sometimes be overlooked is the load time of your website.

The search engines aim to provide users with the best possible results. Like any service provider, the search engines don’t want their user base to defect and start using a competitor’s service. Therefore, they take the usability of a website into account before ranking it well. One of the most important usability factors of a website is its load time. If a website loads slowly it lost that visitor before it even had them. A slow load time results in a higher bounce rate and fewer conversions. This isn’t the late 90’s and the days of dial up. People expect a website to load instantaneously. Best practice is to keep load time under 5 seconds, but even under 2 seconds is optimal.

Over time it’s natural for a website to grow and add additional pages or additional functionalities. However, this can also slow things down. It’s recommended to check on the load time of your site on a regular basis by using free tools like Google PageSpeed Online and Pingdom. Google PageSpeed Online is great because it’s information straight from Google and reflects how the search giant views your site. It provides you with an overall page speed score out of 100 and a summary of suggestions for improvement ranked by priority. Desktop and mobile reports can be generated. Pingdom tells you what your load time is, gives you a grade, and compares your website speed to others.

If you find that your load time is less than desirable it’s important to take a close look at your site in order to find the root cause of the issue.

Here are some common possibilities:

Website is poorly coded

If the site is coded improperly or includes too much HTML information it can really slow it down. Ask your web developer to remove any coding that isn’t needed and try putting CSS and JavaScript information into a separate file and referencing that file on the page to increase page load speed.

Excess graphics and images

It’s great to have a website that is visually appealing, but images and multimedia files are the biggest culprits of slowing a site down. Consider whether pictures and other media are actually necessary and add value to the page. Consider trimming down the number of photos, videos, ads, pop ups, etc. that aren’t needed or reduce their size to speed up the rendering process.

Content heavy pages

Instead of separating content into multiple pages, many website owners make the mistake of having a few pages that include lots and lots of text. This is harmful for a few reasons. First, nobody wants to scroll through all of that. Second, it can load slowly.

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