Sluggish site load times are a core finding on over 50% of the Technical SEO audits we perform for our clients. When we present our clients the data and show them Google’s Page Speed Insights, we’re often asked, “Is it worth investing to improve these load times?”.
Even in a world with limited budgets and back-logged internal resources, our answer is increasingly becoming, “Yes.”
Improving site load times is an easy task to push off. Optimized load times are not prerequisites to running search engine marketing programs. If you want to spend money on search with a slow site, Google or Bing will happily take your money. On the SEO front, content development initiatives often take priority over the technical work required to fix poor load times. But as the competition has literally ‘quickened,’ the ramifications of a slow site have become more and more pronounced.
Poor site load times have many detrimental effects on website performance, but several stand out as the most problematic:
- The User Engagement and Revenue Impact – Slow load times are a major driver behind user bounces and exits. “58% of shoppers will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.” For Amazon, for example, “a 100 millisecond improvement in load time [is equivalent to] a 1% revenue increase.” These stats demonstrate a clear connection between page speed and conversions and ultimately ROI.
- The SEO Impact – Load times are becoming an increasingly important algorithmic signal for Google. Google has been open that page load times are a major signal in their ranking algorithm for computers, but they’ve recently announced that the same signal will soon affect mobile rankings as well. Furthermore, research has shown that “slow page speed means that search engines can crawl fewer pages using their allocated crawl budget, and this could negatively affect your indexation.”
- The SEM Impact—As stated above, Google and Bing will let you run search ads despite your site’s load time issues. That doesn’t mean, however, that there are not repercussions to poor load times in an SEM account. Landing page experience is a factor in determining keyword Quality Score. A component of Google’s landing page experience assessment is site load times. Google explains, “If it takes too long for your website to load when someone clicks on your ad, they’re more likely to give up and leave your website. This unwelcome behavior can signal to Google that your landing page experience is poor, which could negatively impact your Ad Rank. That’s why you want to make sure your landing page load time is up to speed.”
From conversion rate, to SEO rankings, to SEM ROI, site load times are having a major impact on the performance of your digital marketing programs. Have you pushed off improving site speed? If so, it’s time to get into action and make site speed a priority and a core KPI in your digital strategy.
To learn more about improving your site’s load times and implementing a technically sound SEO strategy, please contact us today!