Does Load Time Impact SEO?

The speed of a website or web page to completely load in a browser is a significant factor in SEO. For context, page load time (or page speed) is the time it takes to fully display the content on a specific page.

For companies wishing to improve their ranking in organic search, improving website load time is a vital factor. In 2010, Google introduced speed into its ranking algorithms and announced the update on its blog with a post titled, “Using site speed in web search ranking.” Google conducted studies on how users react when web search takes longer and found that page and site speed has a major impact on a user’s happiness. These studies were announced on Google’s research blog in 2009, which revealed the impact of minor increases in load time having a measurable impact on a user’s engagement.  Simply stated, “speed matters” on the Internet.

While these numbers may seem small, a daily impact of 0.5% is of real consequence at the scale of Google web search, or indeed at the scale of most Internet sites. –Google

For many marketers, fixing load time could have a dramatic positive impact on outcomes.

[U]sers exposed to a 400 ms delay since the beginning of the experiment did 0.44% fewer searches during the first three weeks, but 0.76% fewer searches during the second three weeks. –Google

There are a number of tools that allow webmasters and marketers to measure site speed and page load time. Google’s own Page Speed Insights or HubSpot’s Website Grader are good examples.

Google Page Speed Grader

HubSpot's Website Grader

For those more technical, use Chrome’s built-in developer tools to inspect the elements of a website that specifically drive up the load time.

GE website load time using Chrome developer tools

We love the Chrome developer tools because they allow for:

  • Assessing network performance
  • Auditing a website
  • Debugging JavaScript
  • Improving rendering performance
  • JavaScript & CSS performance
  • Inspecting storage
  • Inspecting the DOM and styles

Developer Tools for page load time

Developer Tools for page load time - Inspection window

Conclusion:
While many marketers may spend countless hours improving design, messaging, calls-to-action, and other conversion factors, fixing page load time may be one of the most impactful initiatives a digital marketer can do to improve results from campaigns and initiatives. Page load time should be a website design factor that marketers invest time and energy to improve since it can scale negatively or positively for your campaigns. And, yes, it does impact SEO.

SOURCES:

  • Google, 2010, Webmaster Central Blog: https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2010/04/using-site-speed-in-web-search-ranking.html
  • Google, 2009, Google Research Blog: https://research.googleblog.com/2009/06/speed-matters.html
  • Google’s Page Speed Insights: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/


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Ironpaper is a B2B marketing agency and lead generation agency. Ironpaper integrates design, technology and marketing for the web to drive meaningful results for clients. We are based in New York City and Charlotte, NC.