If you’re a business owner, chief marketing officer, website designer or developer, or have a general interest in learning more about how website speed affects SEO – this article is for you! It’s crucial to understand how website speed plays a role in SEO. Without a firm understanding of the ways in which different website elements affect site speed, stakeholders are at risk of inadvertently causing more headaches down the road with decreased site performance and costly adjustments.
If you haven’t already guessed, the quick answer as to whether website speed affects SEO is, “Yes!”. To understand how it affects SEO, let’s set the stage using a real-life scenario.
Mistakes Were Made
XYZ Company hired a web design team to build them a new website to replace their old, outdated one. The site will feature the business’s services and will facilitate lead generation through calls-to-action such as forms fills and phone calls. XYZ Company has some great new video and image assets they want to utilize on the site to help drive sales. The owners of the XYZ Company want something flashy! They have had their current website for almost 8 years and are eager for a drastic change. They want the site to be way cooler and more awesome than any of their competitors’.
The design team gets to work and are excited to show off their skills. They create a visually amazing website using video content, imagery, and flashy design elements. The XYZ Company owners are blown away at how great the site looks! With their vision achieved through a cool looking website design, they see dollar signs ahead and forecast great sales numbers for the first year with the new site.
Once the site goes live, the marketing team starts to run paid search, email marketing, and content marketing campaigns. They team up with a local TV station to run a few commercial spots on cable. All these efforts are expected to bring a ton of visitor traffic to their website. After the first year, however, sales numbers fall WAY short of company goals.
How could this have happened?
Hiring the Experts
XYZ Company hires a marketing consultant (ahem…. Brand Ranch Media, maybe???) to help pinpoint what went wrong and provide them with the steps needed to fix any marketing-related issues they may have overlooked during the past year. After running a full analysis, the consultant presents the following:
- Mobile Website Bounce Rate is 90%
- 87% of Google Ads traffic is on mobile devices
- Organic Traffic is only 15% of total web traffic
- The website only ranks organically for its own brand name and close variants
- Average page load speed is 25 seconds on mobile devices and 15 seconds on desktops
Each of these performance indicators illustrate a clear problem with website speed!
The consultant then makes the following recommendations:
Our research and reports show that slow page load speeds can be improved by:
- Utilizing next generation image files
- Limiting the number of scripts that must fire before the page becomes fully interactive
- Utilize a 3rd party website to host video files
Fixing these issues have their associated costs. Combined with the costs associated with the flashy website design/build, a years’ worth of marketing costs, and the analysis to find the cause of the failed marketing initiatives as well as the solution – not understanding how website speed affects SEO can cost a company hundreds of thousands over the course of a year!
So, how does website speed affect SEO?
In our example above, the different elements of XYZ’s flashy new website caused the site to load extremely slow. When a website takes a long time to load, the overall perception of the quality of the website by search engines decreases. The search engine wants to provide its users with the best quality results and the best quality websites. When a website has slow load times, the search engine perceives this as a quality issue related to user experience and will therefore rank the website much lower in comparison to others within the same industry and geographic location. A similar ranking system applies for search engine ads. Essentially, if a website is slow to load, a visitor is more likely to exit out of the website upon entry rather than wait until it completely loads. Therefore, when approaching a web project, you should design for aesthetics but develop for performance. You really can’t afford to learn this lesson the hard way, like XYZ Company did.
Don’t be like XYZ. Call Brand Ranch Media before you get involved in a costly web design and marketing plan. We design and build with performance and conversions top of mind. If you’ve already made a costly mistake, don’t be embarrassed. We can help steer you back in the right direction! Hit us up at 713-309-6380 or send us your information via our contact form.