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SEO: Why optimise site load speed?

Loading speed

of a web page has officially been a ranking criterion on the Google search engine since 2010 on computers, and since 2018 on mobiles.

Speed Update: what impact will it have on your website?

As of 2010, by including loading speed as an SEO criterion, Google is seeking to downgrade the ranking of pages that are too slow in favour of those that are faster. This is a logical development, given the search engine’s clear commitment to enhancing the user experience.

In fact, a blog, shop window or e-commerce site that does not try to improve its display performance can be impacted in various ways:

    • Reduction in the number of pages crawled: the resources allocated by Google to its robots are limited. As a result, they only spend a limited amount of time visiting and indexing the pages on your site. If they are too slow to load, you run the risk of the engine not crawling all of them;
    • Increased bounce rate: improving display performance helps to reduce the bounce rate, i.e. the percentage of mobile users who leave your site after a few seconds because they were unable to access its content quickly;
    • Lower conversion rate: if your prospects have to wait excessively on each page, it’s a safe bet that they’ll eventually lose patience and move on to the competition. Worse still, this can even damage your company’s brand image. So before thinking about the conversion tunnel, it’s essential to work on this on-site SEO criterion first;

Pages that are not fast enough degrade the user experience, sending the wrong signals to search engines. This can lead to a loss of visibility.

In addition to the purely SEO aspect, it should be noted that reducing the loading time of your pages helps to retain users, increase the number of conversions (requesting a quote, signing up for a newsletter, online sales, etc.) and strengthen your brand image.

Page load speed: what does Google say?

From the quality of its content to the geolocation of its SERPs, the Californian search engine has been constantly striving over the last few years to provide its users with ever more relevant and qualitative results.

In 2009, Google launched a performance extension called Page Speed. Its aim was to encourage developers to reduce the loading time of their site’s pages. A year later, Matt Cutts officially announced that page load speed was now one of the algorithm’s many SEO criteria.

For the search giant, there is a twofold benefit: to make its results more relevant, and to reduce the resources allocated to its web crawlers.

In 2017, Google revealed that more than half of mobile users choose to close the tab of a page that does not fully load after 3 seconds. In the same year, the percentage of smartphones used to access the internet was set to exceed that of computers.

In July 2018, unsurprisingly, the Californian giant announced that the loading speed of a web page is a criterion for positioning on mobile.

How can you speed up page load times?

There are many factors that can influence loading time. Some of the most common are :

    • Hosting: this is the basis of all optimization. For a high-performance site, you need the right hosting solution. You can be satisfied with a quality shared hosting solution for a small or medium-sized audience. For a more popular site or a highly successful e-commerce site, a more expensive but much more powerful dedicated solution is essential. Finally, virtual hosting can be an interesting solution;
    • Image compression to considerably reduce page size;
    • The use of a CDN (Content Delivery Network) for local redistribution of your site’s content and for caching files that do not require permanent updating. This is an interesting option for increasing the display speed of your site if you are targeting an audience in different parts of the world. It also helps your site to withstand traffic peaks and protect your origin servers.
    • Compression of different files ;
    • Caching of different page resources ;
    • Use of the AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) format recommended by Google.

While the scope of this on-page SEO criterion remains limited, it is nonetheless one of the fundamental elements of any good SEO strategy.

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Measuring and optimizing display speed

There are a number of free and paid tools for measuring a site’s display speed. Google itself offers two:

  • PageSpeed Insights: this test tool shows how a page performs on the computer and on mobile devices. Many suggestions for improvement are made to optimise loading time;
  • Google Test My Site: deliberately uncluttered and dedicated solely to the mobile web, it provides two main pieces of information: loading time and the number of visitors lost. It is possible to receive a more detailed audit by email.
  • While the scope of this on-page SEO criterion remains limited, it is nonetheless one of the fundamental elements of any good SEO strategy.

Loading speed and natural referencing

The loading speed of a website is a key element in an optimal user experience. A site that loads quickly offers a better user experience, which translates into a lower bounce rate, longer visits and better conversion.

But loading speed is also an important criterion for natural referencing. Google takes page loading speed into account in its algorithm for ranking search results. A slow website can therefore be detrimental to its ranking and visibility on search engines.

The link between loading speed and search engine optimisation is therefore a close one. By optimising your site’s loading speed, you improve both the user experience and your search engine ranking. That’s why it’s important to consider loading speed as a key element of your natural referencing strategy.

The speed of your website is clearly essential nowadays, not only from a pure SEO point of view, but also in terms of the attractiveness of your site to visitors. You need to pay particular attention to this. Ask our SEO agency and our e-business consultants for a full audit of your site, which will include a review of the speed of your site, and will be able to suggest solutions to make your site fast and well indexed by search engines.

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