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Page speed is a big deal



30-second summary:

  • Consumers expect ≈ and apps to respond quickly. Each second of delay can cost $100K in lost revenue for brands.
  • There are tools to help understand a page’s overall speed. Looking at the relationship between page speed and SEO ranking shows that having a faster performing site/page does impact ranking in a positive way, albeit slightly.
  • As marketers look for additional data points about why they should prioritize page speed, Jason Tabeling highlights the data and how it fits into an overall SEO strategy.

The saying is, “Speed Kills.” However, when it comes to digital speed, it’s really, “Slow speed kills.” According to a study by Google and Deloitte for every 0.1 seconds that your page speed improves can increase your conversion rates by 8%. That data point creates a pretty powerful business case to improve the performance of your site. Think about this data point from your own experience browsing the web, mobile, and desktop. Have you ever found that a page was just loading too slow that you moved on to something else, or that brand lost the sale? I know I have. 

So, we know that speed improves page performance, but what about how it impacts SEO rankings? I took a look at a small data set to try to get a sense of the impact that page speed has on rankings. I took 10 retail and conversion based keywords and ran the specific webpages through the Google Page Speed Test to look at the correlation between speed and rank. This data set gives a good directional study on the impact. Here is what I found;

Rank and page speed are only slightly correlated

Creating a scatter plot of each website’s rank with the page speed shows the distribution. The data does show a relationship between speed and rank. The correlation of the data suggests there is just a 0.08 correlation. A correlation of 1 would be perfectly correlated. So, this score isn’t very high, but there is a correlation and when you are looking for an edge and you know the impact speed has on conversion rates becomes very meaningful. The way to forecast the impact is to use the trendline and its slope. If you remember your algebra class you can use this data to create the equation of a line and estimate what your page speed needs to be a achieve a certain rank. Using that equation you can see that every 10 points of additional speed roughly equals a tenth of a point in rank improvement. So moving from a speed score of 10 equals a rank of 5.3, but a page speed of 100 would equal a rank of 4.4. This might not seem like a big deal, but remember speed dramatically improves conversion rates and has a positive impact on rank as well.

What action should you take?

Here’s an outline of a few steps you can take to optimize your speed.

1. Improve your page speed

There are a lot of opportunities for brands to increase their page speed. Probably the most surprising thing was how many sites had very slow speed rankings. Look at the data in the histogram below. 56% of page speed scores came back <20. That is pretty remarkable considering there are some very well known brands in this study. There are so many opportunities to improve page speed and Google’s tool, and many others provide very step by step actions to take to improve. If you haven’t run your site through this tool or another one you should do that to start – https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/feature/testmysite/

histogram of page speed

2. Don’t forget that speed is important but it’s just one of many factors that impact SEO rankings

While this article is about speed, it should be clear that SEO has many more key items that impact rank and overall results than speed. SEO is a holistic strategy that includes content and technical resources. You can’t forget about how well your content resonates with your audience, how fresh it is, and how well the search engine spiders can crawl and understand your site. So many businesses get caught up in their re-platforming their ecommerce platform and never put a minute of thought into the SEO strategy



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