When it comes to your online presence, would you rather your virtual visitors found it smooth and easy, with minimal hassle and loading time, to get onto your site, and navigate around, or would you rather they had to wait? Obviously, you want potential clients, customers and viewers to be able to access your site as easily as possible, and Google’s vested interest in creating the best user experience possible makes it in your best interest too.
This means that site speed is part of the complex algorithm determining the user experience quality and consequently can act as a ranking factor. Having a high site loading speed is absolutely crucial on both desktop and mobile sites, especially considering Google’s increasing attempts to make the net more mobile friendly and responsive.
Site speed is also important when it comes to PPC, as it helps to determine click-through rate, as well as cost per click. Accuracy is hugely important when it comes to studying the metrics of PPC advertising, as you need to know whether or not you’re getting a good ROI.
The easiest and best way to find out site speed for any given site is through the Google PageSpeeds Insight tool, which gives you score out of one hundred, as well as some other metrics, figures and points to improve on, allowing you to regularly and easily check and improve your site speed.
Site speed is important for three main reasons, user experience, and the fact that Google uses both site speed, and responsive website design as a ranking factor. Site speed is important on mobiles due to smaller data allowances meaning you have to allow for a smooth experience over 3G or 4G. It’s also useful when it comes to PPC, more on this later.
User experience is always going to be the most important element of site speed. Regardless of what your website sells, advertises, represents, whatever, you need to know that the clients, customers and visitors to your site aren’t getting put off by slow loading times. You can’t be losing custom simply because of archaic and clumsy website design. With tools like Google’s PageSpeeds Insight application out there, you can get a quick and easy diagnostic rating for your website, allowing you to see what and where you need to improve, as well as how your site is currently performing.
Google’s big focus is always going to be user experience too. With their constant efforts over the last few years on streamlining and smoothing their browsing experience, it’s really no surprise that having a speedy and smooth site is always going to be a great sign for Google, and thus probably an important ranking factor. When it comes to SEO, there are such a vast and varied multitude of potential ranking factors out there that it’s impossible to lump it down to just a few individual factors, however, with the importance that both web designers and Google put on user experience, you can expect site speed to carry weight to a degree.
It’s a similar story with responsive website design. Responsive website design is all about making websites work equally well on mobile devices, without the user having to fuss around rescaling, and maintaining complete functionality, as well as loading easily over mobile data networks like 3G and 4G. The AMP (accelerated mobile pages) is an initiative all about building lightweight and speedy webpages, boosting the overall viability of mobile web browsing hugely. Remember a few years ago when doing a simple search on your phone was an agonising wait and only really useful in a pinch? Well, we’re a long way from that now, courtesy mainly of Google’s mobile web browsing initiatives, and leaps forward in mobile technology. Your website needs to be responsively designed, with speedy loading times if you want to ride the ongoing wave of mobile browsing.
Another heavy duty area in which site loading times are important is Pay Per Click (PPC). PPC is all about advertisements that are paid for per click, on which site loading speed can have a potent effect. It can hugely affect click through rate, especially on mobile devices, as you want your site up and in full glory in front of the browser as quickly as possible before they get a chance to click back. This means it can be important to the CPC metric, which is all about working out the individual cost per click through. Having a high-speed site is basically crucial to using PPC advertising correctly and accurately, and if you can’t count on your data and metrics to be accurate, can you really justify an expensive advertising and marketing method like PPC?
Increasingly, both web page speed and responsive web design are more and more incorporated into general website design, and making sure your site is designed with those in mind is important. If you already have a site up and running, there are ways to test, tweak and improve its web speed performance. Google’s PageSpeeds Insights tool is a great measure of page speed, and gives you other helpful metrics, tips and data when it comes to sorting your page speed.
The tool gives you results for both desktop and mobile browsing, with a score out of one hundred allowing you to really visualise and work towards a goal. It provides you with tips and pointers, key things you need to solve separately for both desktop and mobile browsing, which allows a very targeted and accurate approach to tweaking web speed. With our site, we are currently working to fix the mobile issues thrown up and should have them finished in a few days. The goal, of course, is the get the sites running at a score of ninety plus, allowing a smooth, speedy and user-friendly experience.
When it comes to creating, running and maintaining web sites, site speed is something no one can really afford to neglect. It determines a whole raft of important factors, without even considering the fact that poor web speed can render a web site completely insufferable and awkward for your potential customers, which is something no business ever wants. When you’re in a restaurant and your foods taking an absolute age to arrive, there reaches a point at which you either leave or expect free food. You do not want your web visitors in this position!
At NetTonic we have just started working on the various improvements aiming to get the scores for both mobile and desktop as close to 100 as possible. Look out for a follow-up article.