Page load speed is the amount of time it takes for a web page to fully load all of its content on a device. There are many factors that determine exact website load times– from the server its on, to the internet supplier of the user who’s viewing it, and more. Whatever factors may be at play, in any case, a good page load time for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a key indicator of how your ranking will be on search engines.
How is Page Speed Measured?
The idea of page load time is not one cut and dry measurement. As we said, it depends on various factors. But the two main reasons a speed score may vary are because:
- Website pages don’t all load at once, they load chunk by chunk, and
- Website speed can measure differently for each individual, location, web browser, internet type, and beyond.
To see where a web page speed currently stands to use Google PageSpeed Insight. This page speed report is based on two main speed metrics, which are First Contentful Paint (FPC) and DOMContent Loaded (DLC).
Another important note is that your website speed and rankings are not a set number that will be a one-size answer. Additionally, the results you see from any page speed insight and what the rest of your site visitors actually experience can be two different things. According to Google itself,
“[Page load time] is an experience that no one metric can fully capture. There are multiple moments during the load experience that can affect whether a user perceives it as ‘fast’ and if you just focus on one you might miss bad experiences that happen during the rest of the time.”
Why is Average Page Load Time Important?
Having a good page load time is important for SEO and how search engines decide how good your pages rank. However, it’s also insanely important for who you want to be visiting your website!
People Don’t Like Waiting
Let’s be honest, nobody likes browsing a page if it’s taking forever to load. In fact, studies by Google claim that over 50% of mobile web users will often leave a website if it takes longer than 3 to 5 seconds for the site to load. Is that too impatient? Maybe, but it also means you need to work on your web pages. It could save you some serious client retention.
Conversion Rate Depends on Page Speed
Conversion rates also depend on a good page load time. For SEO, some of the top page checkers take page load speed into consideration when evaluating an SEO score. Furthermore, sites like SEMrush show that many people using their SEO checker do so primarily to observe how their average page load speed is looking. Also called user experience (UX) signals, Google and other search engines use this type of data to determine where to place certain website rankings on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Page Speed Can Determine Bounce Rate
Especially if you’re using Google Analytics, remember they can see all the data covering site traffic, page speed, time on mobile site, and bounce rate. If all of these things are low, it basically means people who view your site aren’t wanting to engage with it. Therefore, it gets a lower ranking and a lower spot on the SERPs.
So What’s a Good Page Load Time?
On average, these days the general page load speed category is something like:
Best: under 1 second
Fast: 1-2 seconds
Average: 2-3 seconds
Slow: 3-4 seconds
Pretty bad: Over 4 seconds
To top it all off, only about 15% of website son the internet are currently operating at excellent page speed. The rest of us are somewhere in the average to quite poor page load speed for SEO purposes.
How Can You Improve Page Load Speed?
If you’re realizing that your overall page load speed is important and you want to improve it, it’s totally possible.
First, you need to observe the results of your overall website page load time on a speed test checker. You can find some for free, like GT Metrix or Pingdom; or you can use any of your SEO or SEM tools if already purchased.
If you have a slow page (anything above 2.5 or 3 seconds), the first thing to look at would be the number of sizes of your graphics throughout your site. If images are too large, they are taking up too much space and causing your website to load slowly. You can fix this by changing the image format or sizing to better suit their purpose on your page.
For example, use an image size converter tool like ResizeImage to make changes in how big it is. Aim for under 1600 pixels by width for blog posts. The only images that should have larger sizes would be for things like Hero Images (the opening image banner on some fancy websites) but still should not be larger than 2,000 pixels.
Work on Your Redirect Pages
On your website, if you have too many redirect pages be sure to fix and simplify them. This also goes with URLs. Obviously don’t change your URLs on things that have a following or shares on the internet already.
Sometimes you just need to clear your cache and browser history. Some things get buggy and it can affect your personal internet speed, which will, in turn, affect your page load times.
Invest in a Better Web Host
If you expect the cheapest, smallest hosting platform to deliver the fastest, easiest page load speeds, you might want to rethink the value of hosting. Depending on your website’s size and traffic, it could benefit you and your site speed to upgrade the type of hosting you’re on.
Still Need Help?
Reach out to Owl SEM today for all your website makeover needs. Good SEO starts with a good website and a good site speed. Get on a free call to go over some more of the “why” behind it all!