Just how much does the load time of a homepage influence a website’s Google rankings?
Page load times have always been an influencing factor in PPC. So instinctively, search engine optimizations have anticipated that page load times affect natural rankings too. Not least because no site that has a slow load time ever ranks highly.
Although many SEO tools include load times in their SEO ranking factors, the link and pattern between load times and rankings has never been stated by Google. In practise, it has always seemed a safe bet to assume the link, and work towards light, fast loading pages.
Matt Cutts has shed some light on the situation by stating that page load times aren’t in fact a part of the algorithm yet – but they could well become one. He highlights that no matter what other factors affect your rankings now or in the future (load times, links or even site design), relevancy still is – and will always be – the most important factor of them all.
Of course we don’t know exactly what may be considered a fast load time by Google.
So instead, why not focus on what we do know about – the user experience. Swift load times on a standard broadband connection (av speed 2.59Mbps) can be achieved with a homepage under 165Kb. More than this and you risk losing visitors before they have even seen your content.
Here are 4 top tips from our SEO agency to help you achieve faster load times without abandoning the use of images or sacrificing impact or content stickiness:
- Ensure key parts of the page load quickly to capture and hold visitors’ attention
- A/B split test different weights of homepage to see the effect on bounce rates
- Optimize image files to reduce their size to the minimum required whilst maintaining sufficient image quality
- Limit the use of Flash files and large animations
For more SEO advice, check out this blog on 8 ways to improve the SEO of your ecommerce website.