How important is page speed?

Mar 6th, 2018

This content was updated January 2024.

It goes without saying that of the hundreds of Google ranking factors, some have more prominence than others.

The importance placed on factors like mobile optimisation, quality content, keyword optimisation and the quality of links vary greatly, but all are considered to be hugely significant. The most notable challenge here is that these things can be difficult to track and it can take varying lengths of time for the changes to yield results.

One area that can make an impact is page speed, specifically mobile page speed. This metric is one of the single biggest decision makers for users, and can determine whether they stick around, continue reading or come back to your website. In fact, page speed has one of the greatest bearings on user experience (UX).

Read on to find out more about why page speed is so important and what impact it could have on your site.

Why is page speed so important?

Page speed, which refers to how quickly a webpage loads, is crucial for several reasons because it affects user experience, search engine optimisation (SEO), and conversion rates.

Enhanced user experience: At its core, page speed is critical for a positive user experience. In an era where attention spans are shortening and the expectation for instant information is growing, a fast website keeps users engaged. Slow page speeds can lead to frustration, causing users to abandon a website even before it fully loads. A website that loads quickly, on the other hand, satisfies the user’s need for efficiency and can lead to longer browsing sessions, deeper engagement with content, and a greater likelihood of return visits.

Higher conversion rates: The speed of a website can significantly influence conversion rates. Google has previously shown that, for every one second delay in page load time, conversions can fall by up to 20 percent. Users are more likely to complete purchases on websites that provide a smooth and speedy online shopping experience. Similarly, for non-commercial sites, faster page speeds encourage users to complete desired actions, such as signing up for newsletters or downloading resources.

Reduced bounce rates: Bounce rate, the percentage of visitors who leave a site after viewing only one page, is inversely related to page speed. Faster websites tend to have lower bounce rates as users are more likely to stay and explore the site further. This not only increases the opportunity for engagement but also sends positive signals to search engines about the site’s quality.

Mobile optimisation: With increasing use of mobile devices for internet access, page speed has become even more critical. Mobile users often rely on slower mobile data connections, making optimisation for speed a necessity for reaching an ever-growing audience.

Brand perception: The speed of a website can influence the perception of a brand. A fast, efficient site is often associated with professionalism and reliability, whereas a slow site can lead to negative associations with the brand.

The importance of page speed, therefore, can’t be underestimated. It plays a vital role in providing a positive user experience, improving search engine rankings, and maximising conversion opportunities. As internet users continue to expect instant access to information and services, optimising page speed should remain a top priority for successful websites.

Does page speed affect Google rankings?

Page speed is a significant factor for SEO and this is because search engines like Google prioritise the user experience in their ranking algorithms. As speed can offer a better user experience, it’s noted as one of the most important ranking factors. Websites that load quickly are more likely to rank higher in search results, leading to increased visibility, higher organic traffic, and a better chance of attracting and retaining a new audience.

In 2010, Google announced that page speed was a ranking factor for desktop searches, and in 2018, this was extended to mobile searches with the “Speed Update.” This change reflects the growing importance of mobile browsing, where speed is even more critical due to often slower mobile data connections.

It is worth considering, however, that the impact of page speed on rankings is nuanced. While it is a significant factor, Google combines it with other factors to determine overall page quality. For example, a slower website with high-quality, relevant content may still rank well. However, for two websites with similar content quality, the one with faster page speed is likely to rank higher.

As Searchengineland has previously said, “Speed is big. Not only is it a ranking signal; it’s a major UX factor. UX, in turn, impacts rankings. It’s a loop.”

Unsure about exactly how to improve the speed of your site? Read our new guide on how to improve site speed or browse some other articles on our Insights page.


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