THE NEED FOR SPEED – Google Now Using Page Load Times As Ranking Factor

Kelley Lott, president and founder of Dynamic Media Solutions, has been providing SEO and Internet marketing services to organizations located in the DC area since 1998.  He is widely recognized as one of the nation’s foremost authorities on effective search marketing.  If you find this blog useful, please leave a comment.  Otherwise, we may conclude that maintaining the blog is not worth the ongoing effort.

The three major search engines — Google, Yahoo, and Bing — are all about trying to send their visitors to websites that offer positive experiences. Research has shown that over 80 percent of web surfers in 2017 indicate that they simply won’t revisit a website if it loads too slowly during their first visit.

Google has made it clear since 2010 that page load time is a major ranking factor in the algorithm that their search engine crawler Googlebot uses when evaluating each website for ranking purposes. Google accounts for more that 80% of searches made in Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland as well as throughout most of the country. Interestingly, the Bing/Yahoo search engines have a slight edge in searches on the West Coast.

So, when pages take too much time to load it can cause Googlebot lower your search rankings, and motivate your target customers to bounce off your website.

Why Do Some Web Pages Load Slowly?
Unfortunately, there are many factors that can cause web pages to be slow loading. Identifying factors that are slowing down your website, and then correcting the problems can be complicated and require some programming expertise. That said, here are some of the factors that most commonly cause pages to load slowly and consequently rank poorly with Google and Yahoo/Bing.

  • Large images are often data hogs. All site images should be resized to minimize their impact on page load times.
  • Ads and tracking tools can wreak havoc in terms of data consumption and need to be minimized.
  • Slow delivery by your web hosting service can slow down your page speed. Not all web hosts are created equal. Make sure yours is not dragging you down.
  • Embedded media – Video and streaming media — are huge data hogs. While properly configured video can enhance your website’s search rankings, be sure video clips are short and properly optimized to restrict data usage
  • Unnecessary or outdated apps and plugins can have a major impact on page loading speed. Adobe Flash and Java are examples of plugins that can dramatically reduce page load times.
  • Themes for template sites (like WordPress, Wix, and Joomla) vary widely in terms of data usage. Open source platforms like WordPress are great in that anyone can produce themes but not all themes are created equal. Basically, the more complicated your theme (like animated elements), the greater decrease in page speed.

While identifying problem elements contributing to slow page loads is fairly easy, correcting the problems without compromising the design and layout of your website is a challenge that requires a deep knowledge of website programming languages, as well as an understanding of the current strategies for effective SEO (search ranking techniques). If you’d like a free evaluation of your site’s page loading issues, give us a call at 703.365.7878 or click here and submit an online request.

Thanks for taking the time to read our blog!


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