Does Page Load Time Affect Your Ranking?
Is page load time a good ranking factor for your website or online business?
Here is it coming from the horses mouth “We take page load time into account when ranking webpages in our search results. More specifically, pages that are really slow to load” said Google’s John Mueller.
To dig a little deeper into this question, we’ll use data that has been collected by search research experts.
A company called Searchmetrics recently completed a rankings report that found on average:
- The top 10 ranking desktop pages loaded in 1.16 seconds.
- The top 30 ranking desktop pages loaded in 1.20 seconds.
- Top ranking pages on mobile pages loaded in 1.17 seconds.
The report concluded that the pages with higher rankings have quicker loading times in general.
The guys at Moz also published some information on the same topic. The data published goes back a few years and it concludes that page load time isn’t a google ranking factor in itself, but it is something called “time to first byte” or TTFB for short. This is the time it takes your browser to receive the first byte of information from a web server.
Out of all the data that was captured by MOZ, the TTFB metric had the strongest link to a change in google rankings. They concluded that the back-end of a website really does make a difference to your search engine ranking and that website owners should do all they can to improve their TTFB.
So what on earth is this TTFB stuff?
It’s all to do with your web servers, database servers and back-end applications.
Want to have a look at your back-end?
You bet you do.
You can run a test for free at webpagetest.org
Here’s what it looked like for RentHouse:
Two F’s mean we’ve definitely got issues!
Google PageSpeed insights gives you separate scores for mobile and desktop. You’ll find the one out of two will be in the red in a lot of cases. Certain things that aren’t big load problems on desktop make a bigger difference on mobile, hence the discrepancies in speed scoring.
Having a slow website is bound to have an effect on your bounce rate, not to mention your overall conversions and sales. If your site takes 5 seconds to load, you visitors are going to slap that back button asap rocky.
Losing website traffic does have an effect on your rankings.
These are some pretty alarming stats shown by WP Engine.
Page load problems also have a big impact in the publishing world. The Financial Times published a study that pointed out that when load time is increased, page-per-session consumption declines fairly rapidly.
The data shows that there are very clear benefits to making a website faster and the evidence is pretty conclusive.
You should be pretty convinced now that website load times really do matter. They can affect your SERP rankings which ultimately affects your bottom line. So make sure you optimise those websites!