That’s .05 seconds, or less than half the time it takes an average person to blink. According to a study by Behaviour & Information Technology Journal, that’s how long you have to make a first impression on visitors to your website. Then consider that according to Kissmetrics, 47% of web users say they expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% of users abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load!
It’s great small talk to joke about how life is speeding up, how in our mobile world we are always accessible, and how people are becoming more impatient by the day…wait, by the hour…wait, by the SECOND… but information like the data above really brings this narrative to life, and defines the new generation of consumers and decision makers, Generation C.
The fact is, patience is no longer a virtue, particularly on the web, for Generation C. These consumers and browsers have high expectations for websites, and the threshold of patience is shortening every day. Consumers are correlating the performance of a website, specifically load speed, with their desire to purchase or consume content from that brand.
Talk about making a first impression!
Of course Google is noticing, providing us data that illustrates every second of a delay in mobile load time equates to a 20% decrease in conversion rates. Not to mention 52% of users say they are less likely to re-engage with a brand following a bad online experience. Because of this, Google has factored in load speed to its rankings, ensuring their searchers receive the best possible online experience. Did you ask why page speed was important to your SEO program?
Generation C & Page Speed SEO
Spoiled? Entitled? The worst? Call this impatient generation what you will, but the fact remains Generation C is here to stay. What is Generation C you ask? In short, they are the strongest force in consumer culture today. They aren’t defined by age or birthdate, instead they are defined by their connection to technology. Gen C is a mindset, defined by key characteristic that allow them to live in a world that is “connected” hence the C.
Generation C values interaction facilitated by technology. They’re the Generation who pops up uber instead of hailing a taxi, who utilizes Air BnB instead of booking a hotel, the people who check YouTube for a cooking recipe instead of pulling out a cook book. These are the people who want to form communities online instead of in person, but most importantly Generation C members are people who want to be in control of their experiences.
From a business perspective, that leaves many consumers with no time or patience for anything less than a fast, smooth, and engaging online experience. It’s not difficult to remember the times of AIM dial tones and line by line image loading. Gen C remembers those days and loathes the experiences that came with them. Can you blame them?
Two or three seconds of delay can seem inconsequential, but consider the following stats from Google:
- 79% of users who notice website performance issues are LESS LIKELY to consume information or buy products / services from that site.
- 90% of B2B buyers reporting a superior online experience say they are likely to buy again from the same vendor, compared to only 50% of those reporting a poor online experience.
- Consumers are more likely to visit a competitor’s website if it offers a 250-millisecond advantage in load speed.
Google Page Speed, Site Speed, and Crawl Speed
To better understand exactly what is affecting rankings, let’s dig a little deeper. In 2010 Google announced they would be using site speed in web search rankings for desktop searches. This year Google has announced they will be using page speed in mobile search rankings as well.
Notice google uses “page speed” in one announcement and “site speed” in the other. Understandably, they are often confused. Site speed refers to the speed for a sampling of pages throughout an entire website. Page speed considers only that specific page and the amount of time it takes to load.
In their own words Google explains “Speeding up websites is important — not just to site owners, but to all Internet users. Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there. But faster sites don’t just improve user experience; recent data shows that improving site speed also reduces operating costs. Like us, our users place a lot of value in speed — that’s why we’ve decided to take site speed into account in our search rankings. We use a variety of sources to determine the speed of a site relative to other sites.”
We also need to recognize Google is considering the “crawl” speed of websites. How long does it take for Googlebot to crawl and index a site? In 2017 Google noted , “For Googlebot a speedy site is a sign of healthy servers, so it can get more content over the same number of connections. On the flip side, a significant number of 5xx errors or connection timeouts signal the opposite, and crawling slows down.”
This means a slow crawl speed could cost a site indexed pages, losing rankings, and in turn organic visitors. Speed matters!
Ways to Improve Google Page Speed Rankings
Now that we have established that Google and other search engines are using speed as a factor to rank websites, and consumers are correlating speed with browsing & purchasing decision, let’s see what websites can do to improve their speed.
While this is not an exhaustive list by any means, it’s a great start to troubleshooting speed issues.
- Redirect Review – Review all redirects and cut out any unused or unneeded links. Every time your site redirects, users & crawlers deal with additional waiting time.
- Optimize Images – Ensure these images are not any larger than needed, formatted properly, and compressed for your site.
- CDN’s – Use content distribution networks to distribute the load of delivering content from your page.
- Optimize Server Settings – Look for performance bottlenecks and address them asap. Optimal server response time is 200ms.
- Browser Cache – Browser cache as much info as possible so when a visitor returns to your site it doesn’t have to reload all the information.
If you’re interested in identifying which of these factors are currently affecting your website and hurting your rankings, you can request a free page speed analysis report.
It’s important to remember that while load speed for pages and sites is a signal involved in Googles’ organic ranking algorithm, it’s not the only signal. Google still places a huge emphasis on content and answering its searchers queries. free page speed analysis report
Valuable content is still king, but on an even playing field, page, site, and crawl speed become deciding factors for rankings. A websites goal should always be to optimize for people not search engines, to access critical moments when those people are actively seeking the products, information, or services you provide. After all, that’s exactly what Google’s doing.
If you’re interested in identifying your current page speed problems and other issues holding your website back you can request a free SEO and Page Speed analysis, providing the data you need to formulate your SEO strategy.