02 Dec Website Speed and its Impact on SEO
The goal of search engine optimization (SEO) is to get a web site to rank highly on search engines so that it will appear in the first 1 or 2 pages of a search result. There are many factors to consider when trying for top rankings and recently Google started using speed as a metric to identify the top sites from the rest. Giving attention to website speed is not only good for SEO. It is good for your users too. In fact, slow web pages have a high abandonment rate which means you could lose sales and visitors. When there are so many websites on the net and all are competing for top spots on SERPs (search engine result pages), Google added another factor to extend the filtering process of identifying top sites. Google is trying to get webmasters to appeal not only to searchbots but to users as well.
Google uses both the Googlebot to measure response and the Google Toolbar to determine how fast the page loads. Factors considered by Google when measuring response include the time it takes to download the full page, to read the first byte, and to download all resources such as images and ads. Reports also indicate that Google uses real browsers to check load time for your pages in addition to using software tools.
There are many free tools available to help you with evaluating speed. There are tools available that can show you what is going on when your pages load plus give recommendations of how to fix the problem. Any tool you choose should have at least these two features. These tools can be either PC-based or run as a web application. Just go to any search engine and use words like “evaluate web site load speed free tools” or something similar and you will see just how many tools there are available. Another resource for analyzing where to speed up your pages can be found on the Google Page Speed Open Source Project (http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/).
A web page should load in about 4 seconds or less. This is according to webwait.com which is a free web-based tool to evaluate your site’s load time. If you see that your site is consistently exceeding this time, you should look at the design of your pages to see where they can be streamlined. There are many ways to streamline your pages. Some examples are combining CSS and Java files, optimizing your images, compressing text files, using distributed web pages, and minimizing the use of images.
Consider using web server compression. This technology allows the sending of web pages somewhat like compressed archive files familiar to those who download music and software. Check with your web hosting company’s technical support and see if they offer this.